Asphalt system overkill

How many asphalt-based specs does the roofing industry really need?

When it comes to asphalt-based roofing specifications, manufacturers often give their contractor customers more choices than they need. The asphalt roof system category itself contains many types, such as built-up, polymer-modified bitumen and hybrid roof systems. In addition, the number of FM Global (FM) and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. asphalt-based roofing approvals is staggering.

At some point, competitive pressures and the idea "it's all about choice" made specifying asphalt-based roofing materials more complex and costly than it needs to be. By taking a closer look at what's really needed based on deck type, fire and wind-uplift ratings, and other criteria, the asphalt roofing industry can create greater value by reducing costs across the entire supply chain. At the same time, manufacturers can make the choices less complex for their customers.

For example, imagine shopping for cereal at the local grocery store and finding 800 brands of cornflakes on the shelves. You would be faced with an almost impossible decision based on price, perceived quality and what your family prefers. Of course, this would never happen in the real world because retailers couldn't possibly afford to stock so many similar products.

But this is what is occurring in the roofing industry. Choice can be a good thing, but not when it threatens to confuse customers, complicates the sales process, and drives up costs for distributors and manufacturers. For any given roof system type, there may be hundreds of choices on the market, but a building owner is looking for just one cost-effective solution that meets his or her needs.