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In Depth: Roofing

This article originally appeared in LBM Journal – June 2015

Byline: Craig A. Shutt
System selling grows, but contractors and homeowners are paying more attention to the value provided by each piece as they realize the importance of each component.

As roofs become more complex and gain value in projecting a home’s curb appeal and adding energy efficiency, contractors and homeowners both are paying closer attention to what components are used and what features they offer. They also understand that all pieces play a key role and must work together so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in providing performance.

“A systems approach to roofing products is definitely developing,” says Jonathan Wierengo, vice president of marketing for Headwaters Roofing, a division of The Tapco Group. “Homeowners aren’t there yet, but contractors understand the principles and are pushing it. They believe they can educate the customer at the kitchen table by presenting all the information. Contractors and homeowners are both seeing that higher-end products can cost less over time due to their longevity and efficiency.” Adds Gary Davidson, national accounts manager at Metal Sales, “There is more emphasis on selling roofing solutions. As a result, the sale includes whatever is needed to satisfy the needs of the customer. Certainly, ventilation is a key component, and items such as snow retention have drawn significant attention.”

“Builders are always looking to take a systems approach to building, and that’s spreading through the house,” agrees Brent Flotkoetter, general manager at Huber Engineered Woods. He saw it begin with wall assemblies for Huber’s ZIP system, as builders recognized the benefits. “Now interest is growing for roofing applications, because the benefits are the same. Builders want tighter roof systems with greater moisture protection and fewer air exchanges overall, and they realize they can get those benefits for the roofs as well as for walls.”

Jeff Avitabile, product manager for Steep Slope Accessory Products at GAF, sees systems selling growing further. “It’s evolving, so all the manufacturers are pushing it,” he says. “They can capitalize on it by selling more of their products and help the consumer get a more complementary system by buying everything from one source. There’s a lot of upside to buying from one manufacturer, as all responsibility stays in one place.”

Owens Corning has leveraged that demand by branding its seven-part system (shingles, in-flow ventilation, exhaust ventilation, ice and water barrier, underlayment, start strips, and hip and ridge vents). “It helps the contractor to sell it and the homeowner to understand how everything works together,” explains Sue Burkett, marketing leader. “Contractors are looking for a system of products. They used to focus on the shingles’ features, and the other system components were simply support. But that has changed now.”

Selling roofing as a system of complementary components often helps move homeowners to more premium products beyond the shingles. “There’s more awareness overall of the need for a larger-area system and that it has to be in balance,” explains John McGill, general manager for ridge vent products at Benjamin Obdyke.

“A low price for a product doesn’t always win out. More people are aware of the benefits of value-added products due to their ability to research products on the Internet.”

That has changed how products are marketed, he adds. “Manufacturers can’t just focus on their products’ features. What builders are interested in is compatibility with the other parts of the system. That’s a change. It used to be that the contractor’s focus was on each product and what features it offered. Now they want to know testing procedures for compatibility and how they work together in a sustainable system.”

Customers’ detailed knowledge goes only so far on roofing details in many cases. “There’s a two-pronged approach,” says Owens Corning’s Burkett. “Contractors have to give their customers the information they need, and they have to explain all of the parts of the system, because some of them don’t receive much attention.”

GAF’s Avitabile agrees. “When a contractor up-sells a customer to a full system, it’s usually an upgrade to better quality products that ensure longer life. The contractor who does this also is typically more educated and informed about the products’ benefits and how the pieces work together.”

Some Buy Separately

Although many contractors understand the system approach, not all buy from one source. Ply Gem Industries, for instance, manufactures only roofing. “We do not sell as a system,” says Dave DeRogatis, director of composites. “However, installers can find detailed information on underlayments, insulation, ventilation and more in our installation guide at our website.”

Adds Tony Reis, sales and marketing director for MFM Building Products, “Shingle manufacturers push their system to their benefit and for the customers to receive longer warranties. But contractors want good products at competitive prices, regardless of whether it’s the same brand name. They want to ensure the products are compatible and provide good value.”

System selling from one source can enhance warranty coverage, especially for contractors who are part of a manufacturer’s certified roofing program. GAF recently expanded its program to offer extended warranties on systems using at least three GAF accessories even if the roofer isn’t part of the certification program. “It helps with the contractor’s system selling and expands it to more contractors,” says Avitabile. “Including non-certified contractors is a good evolution for everyone, to encourage the use of higher quality pieces in the entire system.”

Homebuilders are paying more attention to any products that can make them more efficient, notes Jody Dedmon, OSB market development manager at Weyerhaeuser. “Builders are reacting to the fact that there’s a shortage of labor,” he says. “They want process reducing products. They’re willing to spend more upfront so they can frame quicker and need fewer steps. Some don’t need roof felt because it’s incorporated into the newer roofing products, saving time and reducing labor. We expect to see builders looking to save on steps everywhere. We see it already with enhanced subflooring, and it’s extending to the roof. Process-reducing products are driving a lot of new products now. Builders are realizing that it’s better to buy improved products that save time and are easier to install with fewer callbacks than to chase labor.”

Headwaters Roofing’s Wierengo warns that too many dealers and contractors are thinking about the process backwards when they “up-sell” customers. “The best approach is to ‘down-sell’ the customer,” he explains. “Start at the top and present the best possible system, then work down until you reach a workable budget.” By taking pieces off, the customer sees what is being lost and what benefits will be missed. “It informs the homeowner so they know all the features possible.”

Metal Roofing Gains

More homeowners also are looking at the benefits provided by metal roofing, which can offer long-term benefits. “I see a strong interest in metal-roofing systems today on the residential side of the market,” says Metal Sales’ Davidson. “For a long time, the strongest markets have been agricultural, rural and commercial/architectural markets. But there’s a recurring theme of the potential available on the residential side.”

Homeowners are looking for alternative materials, he says. “The market is using metal roofing more widely due to the variety of advantages that it offers. These include durability, sustainability, energy efficiency, ‘cool roof ’ technology and color options.”

Adds Brad Newell, marketing manager for EDCO Products, “Asphalt roofing prices continue to rise while metal roofing prices stay steady. This is making it easier for the homeowner to justify the additional cost of a metal roof that will outlast an asphalt roof. Durability is one of the major reasons that homeowners are buying metal roofs.”

The potential for putting roofing projects behind them has appeal for homeowners, notes Headwaters Roofing’s Wierengo. “Homeowners realize it’ll be the last roofing they ever have to buy if it’s installed well. There are more products available, and there’s more interest in them.”

Ventilation Use Expands

Ventilation has become a key component of the roofing system, whether asphalt or metal products are used. The variety of options, including electrically and solar-controlled vents, continues to expand. “Ventilation products are growing because building science has been embraced, and it’s becoming a defining point,” says GAF’s Avitabile. “Science related to roofing is lagging behind walls, but it’s coming quickly now.”

As awareness of ventilation’s benefits grow, the need for more ventilation conflicts with homeowners’ goals in using roofing to add curb appeal. “Ventilated roof systems are growing in popularity, and it’s an area that’s ripe for change for many reasons, including efficiency and health,” says Huber’s Flotkoetter. “We’re seeing more companies create thicker roofing with layered roof systems that have vents built between the panels. Roof decks with layers of furring or battens allow shingled layers beneath and add insulating qualities.”

Benjamin Obdyke’s McGill agrees. “The emphasis on aesthetics is affecting ventilation usage,” he says. “Architectural shingles up the ante, so the roofing becomes just as important as what goes on the walls. So contractors try to hide ventilation to improve the aesthetics of the roofline.”

The challenges multiply for reroofing projects, notes Owens Corning’s Burkett. “Providing the proper amount of ventilation can be a complicated formula. Contractors often deal with systems that are already in place, and they have to determine if they’re sufficient. They often aren’t.”

Underlayment Options Grow

Types of underlayments also are expanding, especially synthetic options that provide more benefits. “Builders are using better underlayments than just the commodity level,” says MFM’s Reis. “They’re using better products overall to create a better roofing system. On roofs that feature valleys and dormers, many roofers today are opting to use self-adhered underlayments for added protection at these potential leak points. As far as we know, there are no building-code requirements for this, but the added cost is seen to be worth avoiding the potential problems.”

Adds Huber’s Flotkoetter, “We see a trend toward a new generation of underlayments that offers better gripping, no ripping and self-sealing capabilities. They support the builders’ desire for higher quality and performance products. Roofing manufacturers want to hold onto traditional felt as an underlayment, because they sell that, too. But there are many new underlayments coming onto the market as synthetics.”

Benjamin Obdyke’s McGill agrees. “Synthetic-underlayment people have really stepped up their game and are improving their products. Tear resistance is high and is much more an accepted feature that’s needed. There’s been a big swing in popularity for these underlayments due to the asphalt shingles changing and becoming higher end.”

That’s also the case for metal roofs, notes Metal Sales’ Davidson. “We used to use 30-pound felt, but now we use high-temperature synthetic underlayments made specifically for metal roofs.”

Radiant-barrier sheathing is gaining popularity with many contractors due to its benefits. “There’s a trend toward enhanced products, tied into the restrictions in energy codes,” says Weyerhaeuser’s Dedmon. “They want homes to be tighter, and that’s being promoted by the homebuilder as being more efficient. They’re now using radiant-barrier frequently in the Sunbelt, and it’s moving north. The 2012 energy code is leading that move.”

The key reason, he notes, is that “radiant-barrier sheathing does exactly what it’s supposed to do for a home. Some builders are finding that it makes it more comfortable for their own crews to work inside once the envelope is up. It’s become so popular that it’s really become a commodity. Everyone makes it and it’s readily available.”

Efficiency Drives Choices

Efficiency plays a key role in the contractor’s product decisions. “Contractors are looking for cost- and time-effective solutions,” says Benjamin Obdyke’s Mc- Gill. “The movement is away from products and to systems, as is done on the commercial side more often.”

Ply Gem, for instance, designed its new slate-style tiles with ease of installation in mind. “The tiles are lightweight but will not break when handling and are designed with recessed nail flanges into the shingle, requiring no additional framing support or special skills for installation,” explains DeRogatis. “The roofing is still strong enough to stand up to roofers walking on the tile while installing it.”

CertainTeed has introduced an emergency- repair kit for low-slope roofing to make the process easier and faster, says Ralph Galvan, marketing manager for commercial roofing. “Contractors can spend less time on the jobsite and eliminate the need to travel with multiple repair supplies.”

Aesthetics Still Dominate

Even as other factors raise awareness, many customers’ decisions still come down to aesthetics. “We see aesthetics as a driving force on the asphalt-shingle side,” says GAF’s Avitabile. “Quality and durability are long-standing expectations, so most people turn to aesthetics as a deciding point. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into enhancing the aesthetics of our products.”

That has led many customers away from traditional three-tab shingles. “The three-tab market is definitely dwindling, while the architectural lines are growing,” says Owens Corning’s Burkett. “Contractors like them because they offer a good look and provide good, solid performance.”

Metal roofing also is seeing more attention paid to aesthetics, says Metal Sales’ Davidson. “Metal roofing can have romance and aesthetic appeal, but it hasn’t been emphasized. Women play a big role in the decision on roofing, and they’re drawn to the clean, sleek lines of metal roofing and the color options. Aesthetics is not a barrier to metal roofing being chosen.”

The added attention also lifts the profile for other products. “More money is being spent on the aesthetics of the roof, which affects the underlayment that is used,” says MFM’s Reis. “When better shingles are selected, the contractor and homeowner want better underlayment to provide more protection and to ensure a good look.”

Color Options Stay Constant

Color options haven’t expanded much, but the sophistication of the looks has improved. “Colors typically stay to a fairly small palette in asphalt shingles,” says Headwaters Roofing’s Wierengo. “In metal roofing, the variety is much larger. Asphalt shingles often have six color options, basically natural colors of wood or slate, while metal has several times that many.”

Those choices are being considered more carefully, he adds. “The roof makes up one-third of the home’s face, and homeowners want everything to blend seamlessly to create a distinctive look. Roofing can tie everything together and enhance the curb appeal rather than just being a neutral top. The specific colors and designs vary by region and home style.”

Blended colors are becoming more popular, notes Ply Gem’s Dave DeRogatis. “Our product line is available in four color families that can be blended with two, three or four colors. We selected the most authentic, popular colors.” Customers can experiment with color combinations to find the best blend using the company’s Slate Selector tool at Ply Gem’s roofing website.

“Color and blending are critical to creating a contemporary look for the entire exterior of the home,” says GAF’s Avitabile. “We see homeowners looking to ensure their roofing choice blends with the paint scheme, architectural design, even the landscaping. The roofing industry really has worked to make roofing a key part of the conversation in the exterior design of the home. Specific colors are at the top of the list, but color blends are growing in importance. Homeowners want complementary blends of color to make the roof color look more complex and variegated.”

Lighter Colors Popular

Blacks and earthtones still dominate, he adds. “We do see more growth in lighter colors, and that’s a trend that will probably continue. There are going to be more cool colors as well as lighter colors and blends. We do see more blues and greens in today’s asphalt shingle color blends, but lighter colors overall tend to be browns, grays and tans. They stay in the earthtone line but they’re lighter than they used to be.”

Lighter colors often are used to aid energy efficiency, but many homeowners were turned off by how light the roof color had to be to gain benefits. Today, however, as cool-roof technology has become more familiar to consumers, its use has been aided by the ability to gain benefits with darker colors. “There is a lot of technology that’s improving with cool-roof designs, such that they can now reflect heat even with darker colors,” says Headwaters Roofing’s Wierengo. “Contractors aren’t always aware of these advancements and that darker colors can achieve these goals and open up new options for them.”

Metal Sales’ Davidson agrees. “With cool roofing, we used to promote lighter colors, which weren’t always complementary to homes’ styles. But today’s technology doesn’t require light colors to be able to reflect solar energy and emit heat. It’s more about the formulation of the coating than the actual color. Reflectivity of the coating is the key. As a result, product choices and color selection by customers has been expanded.”

EDCO offers a variety of colors that are Energy Star rated. “They help to keep the home cooler in the summer and help reduce energy costs,” says Newell.

But even with a wider array of color options, customers aren’t fully embracing the concept. “People know the term ‘cool roof ’ and are interested, but many are not following through because of the aesthetics and the cost,” says Owens Corning’s Burkett. “Many decide it’s better to put insulation into the attic than to change the look of their roof. Our website traffic indicates that visitors are looking at cool-roof information a lot, and many consumers have a ‘green’ state of mind, so the heart is there. But they often don’t follow through.”

That approach may change as codes tighten in an effort to gain energy efficiency. “Codes differ so it’s important to know what is required in every area,” says MFM’s Reis. “Some colder states are looking to increase requirements and make them stricter.”

But codes in most parts of the country aren’t the catalyst for product decisions. “Building codes don’t typically impact whether metal roofing is chosen,” says Metal Sales’ Davidson. “More often, it’s decided by the local community covenants that won’t allow it in order to achieve certain aesthetic goals. If we can work with the homeowners’ association to assure them of what our products will look like, it makes a difference. That’s the key to using metal roofing.”

Headwaters Roofing’s Wierengo agrees that it takes more than code changes to change product selections. “Contractors are the driving force for new products,” he says. “Codes are driving some upgrades in California and on the East Coast, but otherwise they’re driven by contractors trying to meet homeowners’ concerns.” Insurance companies also are aiding visibility by providing discounts for higher protection, he adds. “Those types of programs encourage homeowners to look into the products, and they realize that the product can make a difference to their protection.”

It’s up to dealers and contractors to know the benefits of the products and examine new options to see how they might help. “The problem with introducing radically new products is that if the introduction procedure is so different from what the customers currently understand, there will be a ton of resistance,” says Benjamin Obdyke’s McGill. “Dealers and contractors need to understand the product and be able to explain to customers why it’s better and why they’re using it and why their bid is different. It also has to be easier to install to ensure the contractor doesn’t lose time doing the work.”

Educating both the contractor and the homebuyer is important, he says. “Contractors want to separate themselves from their competitors and provide a complete system that can be explained easily in a presentation, with information that is understood. Our job is to arm them with education or website locations for details. They won’t talk about a product unless they’re comfortable with the information they’re provided and they understand it so they can explain it. They don’t want marketing information, they want testing results.”

Craig A. Shutt, senior contributing editor of LBM Journal, has more than 35 years of experience covering the LBM industry

Media Contact: Distribution – Amy Warren (253) 924-3130 amy.warren@weyerhaeuser.com
7 Tips for Compelling Deck Displays

Federal Way, Wash., Jun 10, 2015 – With the recovering economy, one building trend that’s continuing to come on strong—and getting stronger—is a desire for well-designed outdoor spaces that extend the living area nearly year round.

“Outdoor living is booming because people plain and simply love being outside,” says Michael Beaudry, executive vice president for the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). “As dealers you’re on the front lines and in a position to provide industry professionals and homeowners with the best products and services available in the marketplace.”

But like many building material categories, decking presents dealers with a display challenge: how to properly showcase an extensive selection of materials and SKUs in a tight space in a way that inspires, rather than overwhelms, building pros and homeowners.

It’s not an easy question to answer, for sure, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But there are several steps dealers can take to create more compelling and functional deck displays:

1. Get a Handle on Samples
One element that can bog a display down is the shear number of samples of textures and colors of composite decking. Instead of a chain hidden behind the desk or a hodgepodge of samples on the table, institute a more organized system, even with simply a simple, well-labeled shelving unit. Jeff Adkins, senior vice president of display company Milford Enterprises, recently developed a display (right) in conjunction with NADRA that showcases larger composite deck pieces and lifestyle images on a front display, with opening panels to reveal stacks of associated samples.

2. Think Beyond Your Manufacturer

The customized approach above also allows dealers to move beyond simply cobbling together multiple manufacturer point-of-purchase displays, which don’t feel cohesive and can confuse customers even further. Customizing your decking area to showcase your offerings interchangeably, with an approach that helps customers shop by what they want, not just by what you have, can help relieve some of the strain.

3. Go Digital

Video boards within your display can provide ample information and inspiration in a small amount of space. Work with your manufacturers and distributors to develop video loops showcasing your location’s specific lineup of products, interspersed with product information and inspiring images of what can be accomplished with those products.

Catering mostly to pros? Include installation tips and tricks as part of the video loop.

And don’t forget about cool tools like Tamko’s Marquee Color Visualizer and Decking Styles App to help customers better understand what their choices will look like in real life.

4. Reduce Options

Too many color choices can be overwhelming. Adkins follows lessons from the floor covering industry, where only 20% of samples are top sellers. Display samples of your most popular products and then include a full selection of your colors in video displays and printed color sheets/catalogs.

5. Touch and Feel

Samples are great, but nothing replaces being able to walk on the real thing to get a true experience of how the deck will look and feel. Space is always a concern, but keep in mind that you don’t have to build a full deck on site, but just enough for them to walk up the stairs, feel the material underfoot, and hold the railings.

For larger replicas, utilize other parts of your buildings, Beaudry advises. “What about your entry ways, loading docks, and storage material handling areas? All can be used to provide display areas for the category.”

Also, consider using your exterior, he says. If you have roadside frontage, and space and codes permit, consider building an inspiring deck that can attract eyeballs and customers. “Design it well; include pergolas, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens, and be sure to have lots of detailing and good quality lights,” he says. “These will not only act as the best billboards you could ever dream of, but also will add significant square footage to the category.”

6. Market Upgrades

Make sure displays incorporate all the extras, such as lighting and rail cap options. By incorporating those options into the display deck, you can save space on the walls and give a more true-to-life feel.

7. Inspiring Take-Aways

Along with basic product information sheets, work with your manufacturer or distributor partner to develop project case studies that can help maintain the inspirational feeling after they leave the store. Show them not only pretty pictures, but how the products combine to bring about the end result.

When in doubt, put yourself into a buyer’s shoes or walk around with a buyer to get a feel for their experience. Seeing the space through the eyes of a customer who is unfamiliar with your products can go a long way toward small and large refinements that serve their needs better.

About Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands, began operations in 1900. We own or control nearly 7 million acres of timberlands, primarily in the U.S., and manage additional timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. We manage these timberlands on a sustainable basis in compliance with internationally recognized forestry standards. We are also one of the largest manufacturers of wood and cellulose fibers products. Our company is a real estate investment trust. In 2014, our continuing operations generated $7.4 billion in sales and employed approximately 12,800 people who serve customers worldwide. We are listed on the Dow Jones World Sustainability Index. Our common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WY. Learn more at www.weyerhaeuser.com.

Media Contact: Distribution – Amy Warren (253) 924-3130 amy.warren@weyerhaeuser.com
Weyerhaeuser Distribution Adds Sheathing Products from Ox Engineered to Houston Location

Federal Way, Wash., Jun 17, 2015 – Weyerhaeuser Distribution is expanding its distribution of Ox Engineered Products with the addition of its Houston location. Offerings in Houston include Thermo-Ply® Structural Sheathing, Styrofoam SISTM Structural Insulated Sheathing and ISO Red Polyiso Foam Sheathing.

A high-performance alternative to wood structural panels, Thermo-Ply Structural Sheathing is made from pressure-laminated plies of high-strength cellulosic fibers specially treated to be water resistant, bonded with a water-resistant adhesive, and topped on both sides with a polymer layer; foil facings may be applied to one or both faces. The sheathing comes in three grades, two widths and three lengths.

Styrofoam SIS Structural Insulated Sheathing combines four benefits in one: structural lateral bracing and transverse wind load resistance; insulation; a water-resistive barrier; and an air barrier. It is code-compliant for use as braced wall panels attached next to other rigid insulation sheathing or as continuous structural insulated sheathing over the entire wall line.

ISO Red Polyiso Foam Sheathing offers continuous insulation for the building envelope, reducing conductive, convective and radiant heat transfer, and providing thermal, air and vapor control layers to keep conditioned spaces comfortable. The product’s closed-cell foam provides for higher R-values, superior moisture resistance and fastener seal-ability that housewraps do not.

“Ox Engineered’s diverse lineup of sheathing products has been the perfect complement to Weyerhaeuser Distribution’s other offerings, providing our dealer customers and building pros with ample options to meet code requirements and design goals,” said David Helmers, vice president of Weyerhaeuser Distribution. “From strength to water resistance to energy enhancement, Thermo-Ply, Styrofoam SIS and ISO Red offer efficient, reliable means for constructing high-performance building envelopes.”

For more information on Ox Engineered Products, visit http://www.oxengineeredproducts.com. For more information about Weyerhaeuser Distribution, visit http://www.woodbywy.com/distribution.

About Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands, began operations in 1900. We own or control nearly 7 million acres of timberlands, primarily in the U.S., and manage additional timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. We manage these timberlands on a sustainable basis in compliance with internationally recognized forestry standards. We are also one of the largest manufacturers of wood and cellulose fibers products. Our company is a real estate investment trust. In 2014, our continuing operations generated $7.4 billion in sales and employed approximately 12,800 people who serve customers worldwide. We are listed on the Dow Jones World Sustainability Index. Our common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WY. Learn more at www.weyerhaeuser.com.

Media Contact: OSB – Jeremy Mauck (253) 924-2907 jeremy.mauck@weyerhaeuser.com

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