MetalWorks is a line of steel shingles from TAMKO manufactured to look like other materials, such as tile or slate. The galvanized shingles get a high-performance finish and come with a 50-year guarantee.
MetalWorks is a line of steel shingles from TAMKO manufactured to look like other materials, such as tile or slate. The galvanized shingles get a high-performance finish and come with a 50-year guarantee.

Asphalt shingles remain the overwhelming favorite for steep-slope residential roofs, with manufacturers and analysts seeing a particularly strong future for high-performance laminated shingles that can cope with severe weather and meet tougher energy-efficiency standards.

Manufacturers also note continued demand for asphalt and metal shingles with the visual appeal of slate, cedar, and other natural materials but are more durable, more available, and carry lower lifetime costs.

Laminated asphalt shingles have left three-tab shingles bobbing in their wake, outselling them six to one in 2016, according to Freedonia, a Cleveland-based market research firm. The top end of that market—shingles with high wind and hail resistance and those that meet cool-roof specifications—is showing especially strong growth, says Freedonia analyst Matt Zielenski.

“High-performance shingles have nearly tripled in demand over the past five years, reaching just under 19 million squares in 2016,” Zielenski says. That’s helped propel the growth of laminated shingles as a whole. Sales of three-tab shingles added up to just 17.6 million squares last year while sales of laminated shingles grew to 112.5 million squares.

Zielenski said outbreaks of severe weather, demands by insurance companies that homeowners install more weather-resistant shingles, and California mandates for cool-roof shingles all helped explain the rise in sales of high-performance laminates. Growth comes despite a 20%-40% price premium over standard laminates.

“Standard shingles have seen much slower growth,” he said. “To be sure, they are the leading shingle type used in the U.S. and they will continue to see increases at the expense of three-tab shingles. But growth for standard laminated shingles will be fairly modest.”

Better Resistance
Mark Okland, product development manager for IKO North America, says storms have helped shape the company’s product line.IKO introduced shingles with “ArmourZone,” a tear-resistant, woven reinforcement band that helps the Dynasty and Cambridge IR shingles stay put in high winds. A beefed-up sealant strip called “Fast-Lock” also helps provide high wind resistance, IKO says. The shingles have a limited 130 mph wind warranty.

While Ply Gem’s Engineered Slate and Engineered Cedar shingles are marketed as aesthetically authentic substitutes for natural materials, the company says the shingles can handle winds of up to 150 mph, along with golf-ball sized hail, and they carry a top Class A fire rating. The shingles have a 50-year limited warranty.

CertainTeed’s NorthGate SBS-Modified shingles defy harsh weather and remain flexible in temperatures as low as 0 degrees F, according to the company. They carry a Class 4 impact rating.

Two companies that manufacture stone-coated metal roofing, Gerard and Decra, also emphasize resistance to hail and high winds, a growing threat in Texas and the Midwest especially. There, hailstorms can shatter terra cotta roofing tiles and dent conventional standing-seam meal roofing—a problem manufacturers play up on their websites. Gerard and Decra metal shingles are guaranteed against 120 mph wind blasts and meet Class 4 hail standards.

Solar’s Bright Future
Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)—solar modules that are both roof coverings and generators of electricity—haven’t always fared well with U.S. consumers. Just last year, for example, Dow announced it was deep-sixing its Powerhouse thin-film shingles, while falling prices are making conventional racked solar systems more popular than ever. But CertainTeed continues to offer its BIPV shingles, what it calls the Apollo II roofing system, and there are three new BIPVs on the market that could give this category real legs in the years ahead.

Thanks to the marketing bravado of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the best known of the new crop of BIPV products is Tesla’s Solar Roof. These roofing tiles incorporate solar cells beneath a tempered glass top sheet that can be made to look like another material—slate, for example. Tiles are sold in solar and non-solar versions so homeowners can dial in the amount of electricity they want to generate. Solar tiles are expensive, but the company says they’re sold out through 2018, and Tesla says it will expand the line from two to four types of tiles next year.

Forward Labs of Palo Alto, Calif., offers a similar product, made to look like standing-seam metal roofing. Solar portions of the roof cost $61.75 per square foot, but that’s the equivalent of about $3.25 per watt and it generates power less expensively than Tesla tiles, according to the company. Non-solar roofing is $8.50 per square foot.

GAF, the country’s largest roofing manufacturer, has DecoTech, a low-profile solar module in a proprietary frame that is flashed into the roof. It sells for 10% to 15% more than a conventional racked solar array.

Buyers are watching with interest, Freedonia’s Zielenski said, but the jury is still out. “I think a lot of people want this to be a success,” he said, “but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.” Among them: cost vs. asphalt, long-term savings should energy prices remain fairly low, and the regulatory environment that determines electric rates and rules on net-metering.

PlyGem is one of several companies offering synthetic, low-maintenance shingles with the look of natural materials. This one, called Engineered Cedar Shake, is made completely from recycled resins.
PlyGem is one of several companies offering synthetic, low-maintenance shingles with the look of natural materials. This one, called Engineered Cedar Shake, is made completely from recycled resins.

More Looks, Less Hassle
More texture, heavier shadow lines, and variegated colors all have helped make laminated, or “architectural,” shingles more popular than their three-tab rivals. And manufacturers continue to look for ways to make asphalt look more appealing than, well, plain asphalt.

DaVinci Roofscapes, for example, says demand will grow for its line of cedar shake lookalikes, as real cedar shakes become less available and more expensive. Ditto for Ply Gem, which sells four colors of synthetic slate and two of engineered cedar.

Ply Gem combines recycled plastics and minerals to produce what it says are “accurate representations of historic roofing, right down to the texture and color.” IKO makes Royal Estate and Crowne (both of which mimic slate) and Armourshake (cedar). And TAMKO’s Heritage series boasts a a color palette it calls “America’s Natural Colors.”—Scott Gibson