Low Slope / Steep Slope

Raising the "BAR" in Residential and Commercial Roofing

July 28, 2011
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With such a wide variety of roofing materials available, homeowners can become confused by conflicting data when selecting a roofing system for a new home or a renovation project. According to reports provided by the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA), the most popular choice is asphalt shingles, which cover 80 percent of homes in the United States.



With such a wide variety of roofing materials available, homeowners can become confused by conflicting data when selecting a roofing system for a new home or a renovation project. According to reports provided by the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA), the most popular choice is asphalt shingles, which cover 80 percent of homes in the United States.

Several factors are behind this trend, but stated concisely, asphalt shingles dominate residential roofing because they offer beauty, affordability and reliability. To coin an acronym, asphalt shingles are continuously raising the “BAR” by providing the ideal combination of the three benefits most desirable to homeowners - beauty, affordability and reliability..

The Beauty You Desire

Asphalt shingles can achieve many different looks. They come in a variety of colors and styles, as well as several types, including three-tab, laminate, dimensional, multi-layer, architectural and designer shingles. Regardless of what style is chosen, asphalt shingles are designed to last and give a distinct appearance. Many desirable looks can be mimicked by asphalt. Certain styles can resemble more costly products such as slate or tile; and with granule technology as well as a rich variety of colors available, any composition sought by the homeowner is obtainable. While the roof may not be the first topic of discussion with new construction or renovation projects, what many homeowners fail to realize is that a roof is the first thing that will catch the eye of passers-by. The beauty of asphalt shingles is all about curb appeal.

It is also important for a roof to be compatible with the climate of the location. Compared to other roofing materials, asphalt shingles have a minimal amount of thermal expansion and contraction when the temperature changes.

A Roof You Can Afford

Ease of installation makes asphalt shingles attractive and affordable for the contractor, developer, builder and homeowner. Installing asphalt shingles also requires minimal special equipment. Efficient high-volume production, relatively small application cost and low maintenance provide consumers with an overall value that’s difficult for other roofing materials to match, especially in terms of comparable life expectancy. Depending on the size of the roof and who’s installing it, completing a project can take just a day or two.

If there is ever a need for a repair in the future, certain roofing systems can be more expensive to repair than others. Typically, it is simpler and cheaper to replace sections of an asphalt roof than its metal counterparts.

Reliability You Can Count On

Since the late 1800s, asphalt shingles have evolved to reduce the asphalt content, while increasing the tensile strength of the shingle. This evolution was accomplished gradually over many years, through the addition of polymers as well as changes to synthetic mat technologies. When you choose an asphalt roofing system and it is installed properly, you can count on it being weather-resistant and self-sealing. It will provide multiple layers of protection and meet stringent fire and wind standards.

When talking about reliability, energy-efficiency and the green movement should be kept in mind. Many new construction and renovation projects stress the green aspects of all the products in the project. The roof is typically the location for solar collectors, vegetative gardens and other materials and equipment. Commonly referred to as “overburdens,” these items are placed on the roofing membrane when space is an issue. Regardless if the overburden is for a solar system, roof garden or recreational structure, modified bitumen systems or asphalt BUR are ideal for waterproofing membranes. They are durable materials that will last for years, even as the overburdens are maintained or upgraded.

Asphalt also meets building standards when there is a green concern. The need for reflective roofs is met by innovative bright white reflective cap sheets. The demand for low environmental-impact installation methods is met with cold-applied asphalt materials for BUR and MB roofing systems. Even the need for increased recycling is being answered by continued development of innovative asphalt recycling methods and the proliferation of asphalt salvaging centers.

Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors and styles, as well as several types, including three-tab, laminate, dimensional, multi-layer, architectural and designer shingles. Photos courtesy of the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association.

When talking green, cool roofing is another aspect covered with asphalt shingles. A cool roof will reduce the transfer of heat from the sun’s rays into your home or building by reflecting the heat rays back into the atmosphere, so your air conditioning system can run less frequently. The science behind cool roofing is simple: lighter colors tend to reflect solar radiation and darker colors absorb solar radiation. So, while the roof in only one part of the building envelope, reflective roofs substantially reduce cooling costs associated with commercial and residential buildings.

“There are so many new and innovative roofing applications and technologies on the market that homeowners can choose from, but asphalt shingles continue to be the preferred material,” said Reed Hitchcock, executive vice president of ARMA. “Its core characteristics, including beauty, affordability and reliability, make it an industry giant.”

Showing Off Top Asphalt Projects

As a way of promoting the use of asphalt roofs to the building community and showcasing the top asphalt projects from around the country, ARMA developed the Quality Asphalt Roofing Case-Study program (QARC). QARC is an annual recognition program that gives roofing contractors, consultants and architects an outlet to gain national prominence for their notable asphalt roofing projects. ARMA highlights outstanding projects, including those that use innovative asphalt roofing materials as well as those that use traditional asphalt roofing materials.

At the end of each year, a panel of judges ranks the projects and selects three winners. Aside from crowning the top projects, the program allows anyone to share success stories and best practices. Participants network and learn while promoting their knowledge of the core attributes of asphaltic roofing as seen through their particular projects.

Previous winners included a commercial high-rise building, a historic courthouse and a new residential housing project. Each winner took a different approach when choosing a roof to best fit the project needs. ARMA anticipates receiving a wide variety of submissions for the 2011 QARC program, including both low-slope and steep-slope projects. Be sure your project is among the entries.


For more information on asphalt roofing, visit www.asphaltroofing.org/index.html. For more information on the QARC program, visit www.qualityasphaltroofingcasestudy.com/index.php.

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