GAF’s recent announcement elevating their upscale asphalt shingle products to “Limited Lifetime Warranty” status is nothing short of a game changer in the steep-slope roofing business. 

GAF’s recent announcement elevating their upscale asphalt shingle products to “Limited Lifetime Warranty” status is nothing short of a game changer in the steep-slope roofing business. Whether you are a roofing consumer, contractor, distributor, or competing manufacturer, the nation’s largest roofing manufacturer just rocked your world.

So things have changed; nothing new about that. Things are always changing. So what does this development mean for the industry? Short answer: I don’t know, but I have some ideas. For now I am reaching out to a number of folks in the industry to see what they think. Spent a day at the International Builders Show last week and had the opportunity to chat with a few folks about it, but not as much as I would have liked. Had the feeling a few people there were avoiding me. I understand because the news was so fresh there were no prepared responses (yet).

How will the other manufacturers respond? Not sure. Typically roofing manufacturers will do whatever it takes to maintain market share. They may sit tight to see how markets react before making any moves.

Several roofing and building contractors I spoke with have told me this is a good thing. Some distributors have told me they think it is an attempt to reduce the number of SKUs produced, which could be good for the supply chain. Still others are using the new warranty as a weapon until other manufacturers react by changing or developing other competitive strategies.

My opinion is shared by at least a few key folks around the industry (who will remain nameless as our conversations were all casual). I think moving all upscale roofing products to a limited lifetime warranty will have the effect of taking warranty out of the equation when it comes to comparing shingle options.

When I started in the business “weight” was the standard that roofing manufacturers liked to boast about when comparing their products to others. The “heavyweight” shingle products were more expensive for that reason: more asphalt = more weight = longer life and better value. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which was truth in advertising regulations and the move to fiberglass mats, weight went away as a topic of discussion. Warranties replaced that and warranties have been what separate at least the standard products for many years. Now the playing field may have just been leveled in terms of warranty.

So now the fight will go to issues such as breadth of product lines, aesthetics, ease of handling and installation, “full system” product offerings, and emerging products including shingles with “cool” reflective granule surfacing and systems that will work seamlessly with solar installations. Of course there is price, delivery, and availability, but manufacturers tend to stay close on those items and they should be, for all of us, the last things to consider when it comes to product selection.

But it is not just product selection these days. Roofing manufacturers continue to work on schemes that connect them more closely with their roofing contractor dealers. I think this is a good thing and feel like it will continue to be a good way for roofing manufacturers to defend their market positions.

Now my opinion is just another opinion among the many. I would sure love to hear yours; drop me a line or give me a call. Tell me what you think.