Products Designed for Easy Roof Installation Help Contractors Beat the Labor Shortage

Build Your Business
Author: Michael Russo | March 26, 2021

The labor shortage in the roofing industry is leaving contractors unable to grow their businesses to meet the rising demand. The National Roofing Contractors Association estimates that contractors could have accepted 10% to 20% more work in 2018 if not for a lack of employees. That lost work is estimated to have been worth between $3.6 billion and $7.2 billion.

Roofer cutting and measuring roofing membrane
With the struggle to mend the labor shortage, contractors are looking to products designed for easy roof installation to save them time and money.

To help ease the pressure, roof system manufacturers have introduced a variety of products to increase productivity and efficiency for roofing crews. These solutions aim to offer an easy roof installation, which can reduce the time spent on each job, allowing crews to quickly move on to the next project.

Self-Adhered Membranes

For example, self-adhered modified bitumen membranes offer several advantages for residential contractors, and ease of application is one of them. More and more manufacturers are developing self-adhered membranes that can be installed in a range of temperatures without a torch or kettle. No special equipment is required, and they're less labor-intensive than other roof systems.

Application is completed in a quick, three-step process:

1. The membrane is rolled out over a properly prepared substrate.
2. Once the sheet is adequately "relaxed," it's installed by removing a separator sheet from the roll as the membrane adheres to the substrate.
3. Subsequent rolls are applied in a similar fashion, using manufacturer-required overlaps at end laps and seams.

Self-Adhered Systems for Cold-Weather Applications

In addition, faster curing times for the most advanced self-adhered roof membranes can reduce costly delays during cold-weather application.

Previously, most manufacturers required that these sheets be applied when ambient temperatures were 50 degrees Fahrenheit and above. In colder climates, this limitation negatively affected contractors' job productivity. However, some self-adhered underlayments now offer contractors a greater application window in colder temperatures.

The TRI-BUILT line of modified bitumen roofing includes the latest self-adhered membranes and base sheets for easy roof installation. These products are applied without torches, open flames, hot asphalt or solvent-based adhesives, and are suitable for primed plywood decks and other substrates.

Synthetic Roof Underlayments

Introduced in the early 2000s, synthetic and hybrid synthetic roof underlayments are lighter, easier to apply and often provide better skid resistance. Another key benefit is that they can cover more area per square foot, which positively impacts worker productivity.

One example is a lightweight synthetic roof underlayment. Available in large, 10-square rolls for greater coverage, the underlayment provides enhanced protection against water and mold growth. Other features include increased strength, reduced slippage between the underlayment and the roof sheathing and improved walkability during installation. Certain TRI-BUILT synthetic underlayments can also be exposed to the elements for up to 180 days, which allows roofing crews the flexibility to move on to other roof areas or projects if the need arises.

Labor-Saving Shingles

The larger the shingle, the faster the roof is completed. Choosing a wider offset shingle with a larger exposure can make for a faster install, quicker cleanup, less waste and greater cost savings. For example, 42" shingles are large enough to save contractors the labor required to complete a full course of shingles.

In addition to the wide format, most super-size shingles feature a larger nailing area that can make installation quicker and more reliable. The generous exposure can also save time by making measuring easier.

All of these versatile, time- and labor-saving products allow residential contractors to follow the credo of working smarter, not harder, while helping to offset the increased difficulties in finding roofing labor.

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