Answers to our November Online Question.

What new material has had the largest impact on your roofing business in the past three years? (Please check one only.)

Cold-applied (with heat-welded laps) modified bitumen (MB) 30%

"Composite" slate or tile 10%

Stone-coated or painted metal shingles 0%

"Super-laminate" shingles (with lifetime warranties, extra-heavy weight) 10%

TPO ¿ Thermosplastic Olefin SPS 40%

Treated ¿pine wood shakes 0%

Other 10%

This month¿s topic did not generate nearly as much response or interest as recent quick polls. Materials and systems are apparently not as important as the shortage of labor or the rising cost of fuel and products.

But don¿t shifts in the use of these materials and systems reflect these other concerns?

All roofing products require labor to install, but some require more than others. Some systems require a higher level of expertise than others, which can be a good news- bad news situation for contractors. The good news is, so long as you have the labor to perform the more complex installations, the smaller the pool of competitors. The bad news is that it takes a highly trained and much more rare and valuable individual to perform.

It seems that the two most outstanding product lines in our survey reflect the move to less labor-intensive systems: TPO and cold-applied MB. While all roofing, particularly low-slope roofing, requires a certain level of expertise, these are a couple of the more user-friendly systems.

PVC roofing was noted as the fastest-growing segment of one contractor¿s business, and the Evershake synthetic shake product was singled out as the highest-growing synthetic shake product.

The "0%" ranking given to metal shingles is probably more reflective of their "niche" position in the market and not a lack of influence in the arena of product growth. Many roofing contractors simply have not signed on to installing metal shingles. This may change as the makers of these products step up their marketing efforts directly to homeowners.

We always appreciate hearing from our readers. Tell us what you would like to see in one of these quick polls. Contact us by e-mail, damator@bnp.com.