01 Apr Shingle Quality FAQ’s
I have to honestly say that I have a huge amount of respect, pride and admiration for the work ethic, discipline and commitment to craftsmanship of many people I’ve come across in the roofing industry. These are people that work their tushes off every day, never allow sloppy work from their co-workers, are knowledgeable in how to craft long lasting roofs with high functionality and aesthetic appeal and are well-versed in the topic of shingle quality. But I’ve noticed that there is another segment of the industry that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about what actually goes into a high quality roof except for the surface level understanding that they have from working on other crews about what it means to “finish the job”.
I recently had a conversation with a fellow Hamilton roofer (who shall remain nameless) about shingle quality. He told me with a straight face that BP 3-tab shingles were (and I quote) “the best product on the market”. Setting aside the idiocy of that statement, in light of high end products like steel and slate roofs let’s look at the more common options of 3-tab vs. Architectural as well as the various manufactures who supply them, since these are by far the two most popular options in today’s marketplace.
I was astounded to hear this because it really illuminated the classic difference between a “shingler” and a “roofer”. In my opinion, a shingler is someone who knows how to install the products given to him. A roofer is someone who understands the mechanics, functionality and science of how a roof works AS WELL AS how to install. A roofer should know things like the proper amount of ventillation, why underlayment is important (besides just a second layer of protection), and which products and manufacturers are better than others especially when it comes to shingle quality.
Let’s start with the manufacturers. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone to do quotes and have gotten beaten by someone quoting IKO or BP shingles and were able to beat my price by $300-$500 bucks, since I have a firm commitment aside from extreme financial concerns on behalf of the homeowner to provide my clients with the highest quality roof possible within their budget. None of that price differential would be going in my pocket. On the average roof, the difference in terms of price between IKO/BP as opposed to a high shingle quality works out to about $300-500. Many roofers and contractors prey on the fact that the average homeowner knows little to nothing about roofing products and who the good manufacturers are. In fact, what’s almost worse is the fact that I truly believe many roofers and contractors don’t even know themselves! Homeowners save a couple hundred bucks up front and are left with a VASTLY inferior product.
IKO and BP BOTH have settled very large class action lawsuits against them recently and yet people STILL continue to use them. In IKO’s case the settlement was $7.5 MILLION dollars!! That doesn’t sound like a company that is committed to making a good product to me.
A quote from Newswire states:
“The class action alleges, among other things, that IKO Organic Shingles were negligently designed and manufactured in a manner that, under normal conditions and usage, would result in premature failure.”
More information about the class action lawsuit against BP can be found here.
So it should be pretty clear that despite their popularity installing IKO or BP is fuelled by either ignorance or a way for a contractor to cheap out and save a few bucks to land a contract. Now what about the differences between architectural and 3-tab?
The difference here is even more remarkable. According to McGarry and Madsen, the average life of a 3-tab shingle is 15-18 years as opposed to architecural which lasts around 24-30 years on average. Chase NW put together a great comparison of 3-tab vs. architectural among the various manufactures. The high shingle quality of the architectural shingle manufacturers that we use almost exclusively (GAF, Certainteed and Owen’s Corning) all come out looking about the same.
All of those have:
- 50 year limited lifetime warranty/10 years non-prorated
- 110 mph wind rating
- Class A fire rating
- a life expectancy of 17-25 years (which can be extended with a proper underlayment)
The biggest differences between those 3 are that GAF shingles weigh 210 lbs per square, Certainteed weighs 240 lbs and Owen’s Corning has 260 lbs.
Compare that to IKO 3-tab which has:
- 20 year limited lifetime warranty, 3 years non-prorated
- 60 mph wind rating
- Class A fire rating
- A life expectancy of 8-15 years
3-tab doesn’t come close to comparing to architectural, especially given the fact that the history of IKO products compared to their competitors is essentially a giant industry scam. Another big difference which is hard to find information on is the quality of tar strip sealant used by each manufacturer. It’s very hard to get information as to why this is, but I know from personal experience that I see the sealant give out on IKO/BP shingles prematurely ALL the time, allowing them to flap in the wind which creates a real liability for obvious reasons.
So homeowners: are you comfortable with saving a couple hundred bucks in exchange for a potential nightmare scenario where your roof blows off leaving you with thousands of dollars in damages?
Contractors: do you have experience with either selling or being undercut by someone using IKO or BP shingles?
And finally, shinglers: are you aware of or care about the quality differences between manufacturers? How seriously do you study the quality difference and functionality of materials in addition to learning how to install better and faster?
Leave your answers in the comments below!