There is no Such Thing as a Lifetime Asphalt Shingle
The Truth About Roofing Manufacturer Warranties
The title of this article is straightforward, and to the point. We are not here to put any specific products down. But we would like to help open some eyes to the truth about roofing product warranties. No matter who shows up at your door to sell you a roof. You will almost always hear why the product they sell is better. Truthfully, the product being sold doesn't always come with years of experience with said product.
Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing products on the market. Most companies have backed away from using 3-tab shingles, which don't meet ASTM standards at this time. The majority of shingles that are sold to the consumer will come in an architectural design of some sort.
As a roofer, I have spent 25 years installing shingles, metal, flat roofs, etc., and had to install a great amount of these to make a living throughout my career working for other companies. Thousands, upon thousands of squares have passed through my hands while working on a roof for well over half of my lifetime. I was roofing well before shingle bundles were wrapped in plastic, and architecturals were becoming the next big thing. I have seen color issues, shingles that weren't cut correctly from the factory, delamination issues, and the list goes on. But one thing that has stood out as the top reason for failure, has always been installation issues. Regardless of the material used, proper installation is a must to have a lasting roof that won't cause problems in the next several years. While we don't push many products as what we feel are the best. We can and do install, and warranty, most popular products on the market upon request from customers.
I would like to be clear that I know some very good roofers. There are not nearly as many of us left as there was 20+ years ago. The not so new trend is to have salespeople take a few hour course on the roofing material that they feel has the best marketing platform, and from that point they will use certain aspects that they learned, to convince the consumer that they are roofing experts that have the customers best interests in mind, and will provide a superior product. I often hear that some of these same people offer lifetime warranties on shingles that will last no longer than 25 years with a near perfect installation. These same new trends are the reason most roofs will not make it to the 20 year mark. Even though the materials have been improved upon, from materials that would last 20-25 years with lower grade products, but with previously better installation practices on average. Basically, our products are improving, while we are losing trades people at an alarming rate for the sake of speed and saving money on labor.
Some companies like the Pink Panther logo, and the preffered contractor bonuses that come with Owens Corning Roofing materials. The company does have excellent marketing materials for the contractors that use them. We currently do not sell them as standard for our company, due to the problems that the webbing strip (nailing line for the unexperienced roofer, these should not be installers) had several years ago, with trapping water and causing nail rust outs and leaks. They made a new version that in our opinion hasn't been on the field long enough for us to trust with our customers homes. We also do not feel they are the best company for backing their material warranties when the time comes for them to do what is right.
GAF bought out ELK many years ago, and the quality has fallen quite a bit over the years. They are a marketing master, and you can pay for your spot on their preffered contractor list. Some people have reported having little to no problems with their Timberline shingles, but we have seen the shingles have problems with tearing sideways at the thin spot of the shingle, as they reduced the amount of material used to make up said shingle. And they are constantly making changes. This can be a good thing, but it worries us when telling our customers that we will give them a roof they won't need to worry about for many years to come. This company seems to be fairly good about honoring product warranties if necessary.
Atlas has a hot new shingle out that many companies are embracing for their Scotchguard protection. We have our reasons for not selling their product, but we hope the shingle does well on peoples homes, and performs exactly as they claim.
We personally love the CertainTeed Landmark line. The shingle has proven to perform well over the years, and no major changes have been made in quite a while. In my years roofing, I have seen the least issues with these shingles. To date, my company has zero warranty issues with CertainTeed. This company is not very good for marketing, and doesn't offer their contractors much in the way of bonuses for selling them. But that says a lot about a company that simply knows they offer a quality product, and they expect for the roofers that know this to carry their name into the homes of consumers. For most homeowners, Landmark, and Landmark Pro shingles will offer a great bang for their buck. And properly installed, these shingles will easily perform as well, or better than the other shingles on the market, but without all of the guess work of will this new shingle perform as it says. At this time, we feel this is the roofers shingle of choice.
When we back away from the product itself, and put the warranty into the hands of the contractor, the scenario changes quite a bit. If the roof is not installed correctly, there will be no product warranty when the problems arise a few years down the road. We figure that maybe 15% of all roofs can meet product warranty requirements due to installation procedures, or lack of. The product manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranties, knowing that either the majority of consumers will move or sell their homes within a few years. They can walk away from most problems on installation loopholes when their certified contractor starts having issues with their roofs. They also prorate everything, leaving you with very little to work with as a warranty payout several years down the road. There is no shingle roof on our market that is lasting 50 years on average, whether it be due to roof accessories, flashing, shingle wear, or installation practices. And the lifetime warranty bandwagon everybody hopped on is far from the truth. 25-30 and 40 year shingles never held up to the years claimed, but now somehow they are all "Lifetime".