Manufacturers often launch their new products at the major industry trade shows early in the year, and 2007 was no exception.

Manufacturers often launch their new products at the major industry trade shows early in the year, and 2007 was no exception. So, our editors are always on the lookout for groundbreaking products at industry shows, especially the International Roofing Expo and the International Builders Show. A few of the unique, innovative, better, stronger and faster products that catch our editors’ eyes receive notice in our annual Editor’s Choice coverage. The following products and services were judged as this year’s standouts by our editorial staff. If you have a new product we missed, or if you spotted some other innovative products that could help contractors do their jobs better, faster or more economically, please let us know and we just might profile it in an upcoming issue ofRoofing Contractor.

Helping Contractors Get a Grip

It is a near certainty that the first guy who saw the first demonstration of the wheel exclaimed, “Why didn’t I think of that?” That was my reaction when I was presented with the Magnogrip by MDG Tools ( This simple device can be a real timesaver when the job requires a small number of metal fasteners - especially jobs that are hard to get to and you do not want to carry a full box, or even a pouch, full of fasteners.

The Magnogrip is a wristband constructed of a durable heavy-duty canvas with a Velcro closure and high-powered magnets. This unique device can hold a small number of screws, bolts, nails, drill bits, or even small metal (ferrous) hand tools. It makes a very nice “extra hand” when you need the other two to haul yourself up a ladder. Our good friend, roofing contractor Ben Mann of Atlanta, tested the Magnogrip and really liked being able to take “just enough” nails up to replace one or two shingles when inspecting flashings or patching leaks. The Magnogrip is available online or at a number of retailers in the Western USA.

North American Bocker’s 12-volt cordless slate cutter was on display at this year’s IRE.

Cordless Slate Cutter

Never lacking for something new to talk about, AG Zalal of North American Bocker ( arrived at the IRE with a new towable hydraulic crane package and the latest model of his Bocker telescopic towable hoist. In addition to the brisk business he does with lifts, AG also sells a wide variety of sheet metal and slater’s hand tools. We were most intrigued with his latest offering, a 12-volt Cordless Slate Cutter.

Working with an Australian manufacturer, AG had the device produced to try in the field. It produced quite a stir at the International Roofing Expo as he demonstrated it repeatedly throughout the show. This is not the first powered slate cutter in the world, but may prove to be the first cordless unit that becomes widely used. Zalal showed how his new slate cutter could slice through various thicknesses and types of slate. Straight cuts for slate are never much of a problem, but cutting a tight radius while working on a steep pitch can be more than challenging. This tool promises to do the job in less time, with less effort and less waste.

Designing crickets is a snap with Cricket Solutions software.

Coping With Crickets

So, what could be new about a piece of estimating software? A look at what could be the future of estimating software was launched this winter in a product designed to perform one specific task: figure crickets. Developed by a pair of roofing professionals, Cricket Solutions ( is a program that allows an estimator to quickly and easily design and estimate crickets for virtually any low-slope roofing application. Working from a Windows-based PC, Cricket Solutions takes the estimator through a simple 1-2-3 process that results in a report detailing quantities of tapered panels, fill and fasteners.

Cricket Solutions will save an estimator time figuring crickets while providing accurate material lists. This writer, not a professional estimator but one who has done his share of “yellow-pad” cricket estimates, was able to easily navigate the software and produce results the first time out. The idea that this may be a look at the future of computing software stems from the fact that there are a number of simple tasks that take too much time and create too much waste between the front office and the field. The final step in the process is a printable report that is one click away. The report may be used as part of the estimating package and in the field. “Simple to use” and “inexpensive to deploy” are two things contractors always look for in estimating software. A downloadable 21-day free trial is available online.

The Look of Slate in Synthetic TPO

Crowe Building Products Ltd. has developed Authentic Roof 2000FR (, a synthetic TPO roofing slate to be used in steep-slope applications with pitches from 3:12 and up. The primary advantage of these tiles is that they provide the natural aesthetic appearance of slate tiles without the need for any of the additional structural support that is required for slate applications. The tiles are durable and they will not split, dent or corrode when they are exposed to foot traffic or severe elements. They are also more flexible than slate tiles, thus providing superior expansion/contraction qualities.

Another advantage of these tiles is ease of application. They are easy to install as asphalt shingles. No special tools or equipment are required, as they can be cut with a utility knife. Installation guidelines for exposures, nailing and spacing are provided on the shingle for easy reference. The system comes with pre-formed hip and ridge caps that have a special channel on the back that allows them to fold down the middle for easy application.

The tiles are available in three different designs and six different colors. The molds for the tiles are computer engineered and precision crafted to provide the classic look of 100-year old slate. A special color-through process that is employed during manufacturing hides all scratches, making the tiles virtually maintenance free. The tiles are backed by a 50-year limited warranty.

JM’s Invinsa roof board is a resilient, lightweight roof cover board.

New Generation of Cover Board

The design team at Johns Manville cooked up a concept to create a new cover board using existing manufacturing technology that would be easier for the roofing contractor to install and would provide high impact resistance. The result is what could be an entirely new category of cover board with the Invinsa™ Roof Board (

Johns Manville has been in the polyisocyanurate manufacturing business for over 20 years and developed this new cover board based on that technology. The closed-cell core of Invinsa is faced with a formulation of glass fiber minerals developed specifically to be water-resistant and enhance wind uplift as well as impact resistance characteristics of a membrane roofing and insulation system. Invinsa Roof Board has been approved for a wide variety of single-ply and self-adhered membrane applications.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing attributes of Invinsa is its ease of handling and application. It weighs one-third of some heavier cover board products and is very easy to cut and install. Installers will appreciate the lack of dust and damage resulting from the use of this dimensionally stable cover board.

CertainTeed’s Mountain Ridge presents a high-profile look that matches the field shingles.

High-Profile Hip and Ridge Accessory

Mountain Ridge™ by CertainTeed Corp. ( is a high-profile hip and ridge accessory that features a tri-laminate base that presents a high-profile look and prevents sagging over time. Each shingle’s edge is rounded for a more substantial, finished look. The blended colors of Mountain Ridge are designed to create a unified look with the field shingles. Mountain Ridge is manufactured to match colors of the CertainTeed Landmark™ Series, Landmark™ TL Ultimate, Presidential Shake™ and Presidential Shake™ TL Ultimate.

“Compared to other hip and ridge accessories that can give roofs a striped look, Mountain Ridge incorporates varying colors to present a unified, finished appeal,” says Maria McDonagh-Forde, Director of Marketing Communications for CertainTeed Roofing. “It’s a noticeable difference that allows roofs to stand out by blending in.”

Made with flexible, SBS-modified asphalt, Mountain Ridge shingles are pre-formed to prevent cracking on cold install days. It features a continuous adhesive strip for strong shingle-to-shingle bond for protection against rain and wind damage. Underneath, a special release tape is factory applied to Mountain Ridge to keep shingles from sticking together. This protects the roof from damage, saves time on installation and increases safety. It comes in unique Saddle Box™ packaging that securely straddles hips and ridges within easy reach of the contractor.

Carlisle SynTec’s Sure-Tough consists of a tough polyester reinforcement sandwiched between two strong EPDM membrane plies.

Tough Enough to Stand Up to Traffic, Abuse

Carlisle SynTec ( showcased its Sure-Tough™ EPDM membrane at the IRE. The name says it all, as this ultra-thick membrane is designed to stand up to traffic and abuse, and it is highly puncture resistant. The 75-mil thick EPDM membrane features a strong polyester reinforcement between two plies of EPDM rubber.

Due to its resistance to cuts, tears and scuffs, the Sure-Tough system is often specified for manufacturing facilities, schools and hospitals. With a bottom layer approximately 30-mil thick, the membrane will remain watertight even if the top ply is damaged. Easy to install, the membrane does not require additional labor or installation time compared to a 45- mil EPDM membrane.

With Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Factory Mutual (FM) approvals, Sure Tough may be utilized on Carlisle’s fully adhered, mechanically fastened and metal retrofit roofing systems, and the membrane is backed by a warranty that covers repairs for accidental damage.

MetalForming’s MFI DirectLink, which allows the company’s technicians to diagnose problems using a combination of existing video hardware and online technology, was on display at the IRE in Las Vegas.

Direct Link to Metal Know-How

Leveraging the power of the Internet coupled with the kind of bandwidth that is now reasonably available in most areas, MetalForming Inc. ( has created a way to bring service to their clients “at the speed of light.” MetalForming’s MFI DirectLink will revolutionize the way complex computer-operated metal forming machinery are installed and serviced.

MFI DirectLink provides a robust online link between the professionals who sell and service machines and the contractors who operate them, as well as a direct link to the machines themselves. MetalForming technicians can “dial in” to set up new machines or diagnose and troubleshoot any problems. Using a combination of existing live-video hardware and online WebEx technology, MetalForming technicians can also provide installation, training and troubleshooting services to the operator faster and at a lower cost than the traditional hands-on method.

There are still a number of cases when the MetalForming technician will have to appear in person, such as the installation of the more complex machines or manufacturing systems. But in many cases, expensive travel and the technician’s time can be greatly reduced or eliminated by use of video via the Internet.

MetalForming also offers DemoLink, which allows contractors to view new products from their office as they become available. Via DemoLink contractors can discuss options and ask questions of the technician live as the machine is demonstrated. Seeking to entice new and existing users to the DirectLink system, MetalForming is offering certain discounts and guarantees to go along with the service.

GAF’s SeamCote coats exposed asphalt at seams and eliminates the need of hand sprinkling granules.

Protective Coating for Seams and Penetrations

SeamCote™ elastomeric protective coating from GAF Materials Corp. ( protects seams on modified bitumen and built-up roofs. It is designed to reduce the risk of blisters on the roof and result in a superior finished appearance. SeamCote’s formulation is based on GAF’s TopCoat® technology, which has been proven in the field for a quarter century.

SeamCote’s innovation is that it eliminates the hand sprinkling of roofing granules during installation. It coats the exposed asphalt bleed-out at the seams of BUR and modified bitumen roofs, and can be applied by roller, brush or spray as soon as the asphalt bleed-out has cooled. SeamCote reduces installation costs by eliminating the granule sugaring of laps, which slows down production and requires an extra, dedicated person to apply granules while the asphalt is still hot. It not only eliminates unsightly black lines, it completely covers exposed asphalt at the seams to provide 100 percent UV protection.

CoverDeck is comprised of up to 54 percent recycled content and can be reclaimed and recycled at a minimal cost after its useful life.

Environmentally Friendly Cover Board

CoverDeck from Firestone Building Products ( is an engineered cover board for low-slope roofing systems that touts a combination of high water and wind resistance as well as impact resistance. In addition to this, CoverDeck boasts light weight, at 50 percent lighter than heavier cover boards, as well as ease of cutting and application. CoverDeck, created in conjunction with Armstrong Building Products, is suitable for use as a substrate on most roofing systems, including BUR and MB.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of CoverDeck is its “earth-friendly” attributes. Beginning by using up to 54 percent recycled content, it comes with a built-in “cradle-to-grave” scheme. When the service life has ended for CoverDeck, it can be reclaimed and recycled at a minimal cost, and the cost to ship to the recycling facility is covered for full truckload quantities.

Nuclear Moisture Detection

The 3216 Roof Reader™ from Troxler Electronic Laboratories Inc. ( allows nuclear moisture surveys to be conducted during the day and in all kinds of weather. Through a principle called neutron moderation, the instrument uses tiny amounts of radiation to detect hydrogen ions, which typically indicate water. The system’s ability to penetrate deep roof materials makes it a viable alternative and supplement to infrared analysis.

It is lightweight and can be easily transported up ladders and used on vertical surfaces. The Roof Reader runs on rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries and will run for approximately 130 hours before requiring a full recharge.

Garlock Equipment Co.’s Fall-Ban CableGuard system is designed to quickly mount right on the roof edge.

Fall-Protection System

New from Garlock Equipment Co. ( is the Fall-Ban CableGuard system. The setup rate is said to be 120 feet per hour, and the system is designed to fit a variety of roof structures. Stanchions are placed every 20 feet, and three strands of 1/4-inch-diameter cable are hooked into the stanchion. One stanchion can fit parapets, flat commercial and overhang roof, and the system can make straight-line runs, circles, rectangles, squares or outcropping configurations. Fall-Ban attaches to the building’s edge, so it’s never in the way when you’re making the roof repair and you can leave it up until the job is done, with no more repositioning.

Everything Solar!

This winter we noted the rapidly increasing visibility of producers of rooftop mounted solar panels and built-in photovoltaic systems (BIPV). This industry seems to be buoyed by the incentives offered by a number of states to building owners installing systems designed to grab free electricity from the sun, as well as investors anxious to cash in on what seems to be “the next great thing” in power generation.

Will solar be the next great thing? Look for stories on solar applications in future issues of Roofing Contractor. For more information on manufacturers and suppliers, visit the Buyers Guide section of our Web site,

Roofing Contractor editorial staff members Chris King, John D’Annunzio, Chip Macdonald and Greg Ettling contributed to this report.

SIDEBAR: A Handy Product for Preventing Injuries

The increasing number of serious injuries resulting in musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) is driving up the Workers’ Compensation rates in the construction industry today. Lumbar back injuries are the leading cause of MSD claims in the world. It is encouraging to find a user-friendly ergonomic product that is designed to solve this problem is directly applicable to the construction trades, and that is both feasible and low cost. Lifting any heavy object or pulling against any resistance by hand can multiply the pressure in the lower back by as much as 20 times, straining the shoulder joints, opening up the lumbar vertebrae, potentially straining muscles, herniating disks and pinching spinal nerves. Handi-Straps™ ( are designed to take any load that can be grasped by hand and transfer it to the mass of back muscles without any debilitating spinal stress. The product is feasible to use in almost every construction tasks requiring lifting or pulling. Ron Komorowski, the product’s inventor, found his inspiration for Handi-Straps as a result of coping with back injuries he sustained doing roofing work.

I began research on this product as a complete and utter skeptic but became a believer after just one day’s use. The vertical arm straps are adjusted by slide buckle until the user cannot fully extend his arms down without the straps tightening first. As a result, during the lift the arms are totally free from any stress, avoiding wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries. As the user slips his hands into the hand loops, the red, rubberized extension straps hang comfortably in each palm. When a solid object is grasped this strap increases the user’s grip strength and fully engages the load. When the load is lifted, the arms are loose and just slightly bent at the elbows. The dead load that would have been carried by the arms is diverted up and over the shoulders by the harness straps, distributing the weight over the entire back area, finally transferring the load vertically to the spinal column, pelvis and legs without damaging distortion.

Another benefit of Handi-Straps™ is that the arrangement of the harness straps necessitate that the user assume the correct posture for lifting: legs bend and back straight. Handi-Straps™ is simply a lift-assist device and as the manufacturer notes, “This product will not enhance the overall load the body can manage.” As they will make the user feel much stronger, you should not attempt to use Handi-Straps™ to lift any object heavier than you would without their assistance. So, only use it according to the manufacturer’s safe use instructions and warnings

Handi-Straps™ come in three basic sizes and can be cleaned using mild soap and water. Handi-Straps™ are manufactured and distributed by Web Devices (, a company whose unique fall protection products I greatly respect.

- Chip Macdonald