Hail:Metal Roofs Offer Resilience
Each year, hail storms in the United States are responsible for billions and billions of dollars of property damage. Much of that damage happens to roofs and vehicles. Insurance companies are continually taking steps to minimize their liability for hail-damaged roofs. Things like large deductibles and age pro-rating have become common. Even in high-frequency hail areas, the idea that a property owner doesn’t have to buy their next roof but can “wait for the next hail storm” is all but gone. Significant expense is involved in replacing hail-damaged roofs.
Nowadays, it serves the homeowner’s interest to choose a resilient roof that can mask indentations from hail.
All Hail: Metal Roof Testing
About 25 years ago, the insurance industry worked with others to develop impact resistance tests and roofing materials ratings. UL 2218 was the test method they ended up with. The highest rating, Class IV, calls for a 2” steel ball to be dropped from a height of 20’ onto the product. They ensure that some of the tests occur on the interlocks between the panels. Passing the test means the roofing material doesn’t rupture or break apart. Indenting is no reason to fail the test.
Roofing materials are tested when they are new. I have lobbied for aged sample testing but haven’t gotten anywhere due to the difficulty of sourcing aged samples. New products perform well in this test but fall off after aging in the weather for a few years. Most roofing materials become brittle or soft with age.
Metal roofs resist hail damage at 30, 40, or 50 years old just as well as new. Virtually all metal roofing products pass Class IV or the 2218 test, offering property owners great protection and assurance.
But that doesn’t mean the product doesn’t indent from the test. This is where the type of metal roof being installed comes into play. A very smooth surface metal roof like standing seam will be prone to visibly apparent hail indentation. However, textured metal roofs have extra resiliency against indentation due to the folds in the metal, and they also mask many hail indentations. I have had Country Manor Shake aluminum roofing on my home for 25 years. It still fools visitors as a new roof even though we have had two hail storms since installation that damaged my car parked in the driveway.
While metal shingles tend to have good resiliency for hail, some have, some have the option of a high-density foam backer beneath them for extra support.
Hail & Insurance Waivers
One thing to watch for: in many states, insurance companies can provide discounts to homeowners who choose Class IV roofs. However, in most cases, they will require you to sign a waiver for cosmetic damage. Even with higher deductibles (often tied to home value) and pro-ratings for age and condition, they will not replace the roof unless the damage is deemed functional rather than cosmetic.
My advice is not to sign the waiver, even if it means giving up the discount. Especially if you live in a hail-prone area, severe hail storms are going to “leave a mark,” and you may want a new roof at that point.
When choosing a new roof, be sure to understand what sort of hail warranty, if any, comes from the manufacturer. It may provide some cosmetic or surface coating warranty and may also provide coverage against hail-related roof leaks.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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