A look at asphalt

With all the fervor surrounding the immigration debate, the importance of a continuing supply of quality asphalt seemed to temporarily diminish. But after talking with various members, NRCA has found asphalt supply and pricing continue to be significant concerns in the industry that have implications for the immediate future, as well as the long term.

Asphalt used in the roofing industry—from built-up roof systems to coatings—primarily is a crude oil derivative referred to as a "bottom" product in the refining process. Asphalt products historically have been available at low costs.

But even with current asphalt prices approaching $600 per ton, refineries are trying to produce more gasoline, kerosene and diesel, potentially causing a tighter supply of bottom products.

In September, NRCA issued a Special Report to all members addressing asphalt supply and quality issues. In the report, NRCA recommends roofing contractors consider adding language to their proposals and contracts that can help protect them against fluctuations in material cost. NRCA counsel developed sample contract language that accompanies the report.