The recession has left the metal roofing market slightly
weathered, but its impact has certainly been far less severe
than on other sectors of the construction industry. And while
metal roofing demand might be down this year, according to
some, the product continues to grow in popularity and gain
market share vs. the dominant asphalt shingle roof sector.
"For 2009, the statistics are telling us that (metal
roofing) is down to 9 percent of the market, but 10 years ago
metal roofs had 3 percent of the market," said Bill Hippard,
vice president of sales at St. Louis-based Precoat Metals, a
coil coating facility that services metal roofers. "In 2008 it
hit 9.75 percent .?.?. for a product to only lose three
quarters of a percent in a down market shows that our sector is
still enjoying success."
While bullish on the potential continued growth for metal
roofs, another expert agreed that demand has retreated this
year. "Metal roofing is not as strong as it was this time last
year. What I am hearing is buyers have their hands in their
pockets and are afraid to make the financial commitment," said
John Packard, publisher of Steel Market Update, who
spent more than 30 years working in the flat-rolled steel side
of the business, with an emphasis on coated products.
A number of factors are working together to forge an
expectation that metal roofing might garner as much as 15
percent of the market by 2012, said Hippard, who also serves as
president of the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA), a Belfair,
Wash.-based coalition of metal roofing manufacturers, paint
companies, coil coaters and contractors. "There are a lot of
forces that are helping it along," he said, pointing to the
cost of asphalt shingles-still the big player with 75 percent
of the market. These costs "will continue to escalate because
the (tar) pitch used continues to become more expensive."
Each percentage point of market share gained means
consumption of an additional 100,000 tons of G90 galvanized
coil or Galvalume, the raw materials for a metal roof. One
metal roofing trade association has estimated that 40 billion
square feet of such coil is covering roofs on a global
"The biggest piece of the roofing market is Galvalume, as
galvanized tends to be used in agricultural buildings such as
chicken coops," Packard said. Domestic Galvalume suppliers
include ArcelorMittal USA, Chicago; Severstal North America,
Dearborn, Mich.; Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind.;
Steelscape Inc., Kalama, Wash.; U.S. Steel Corp., Pittsburgh;
and Wheeling-Nisshin Inc., Follansbee, W.Va. Starting next
year, Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG will participate in the market
from its Alabama mill.
Several factors are driving the improvement in market share,
according to Scott Kriner, technical director for the Metal
Construction Association. "The cost of traditional
petroleum-based roofing material is increasing, which is
narrowing the gap between the initial cost of those materials
and that of metal roofing," he said.
In addition, the interest in sustainable building design is
focusing on the durability of products. The documented long
service life of metal roofing is getting the attention of
design teams, Kriner said, noting that a growing concern for
energy efficiency also is helping to boost sales.
While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act hasn't
bolstered demand, a $1,500 tax credit that has been around for
a few years is helping. Property owners switching to metal
roofs are eligible for a Property Assessed Clean Energy (Pace)
incentive, a state-by-state program recognizing energy
Energy efficiency is expected to remain an important factor.
"An increasing interest, and in some cases mandates, for net
zero energy buildings will put more pressure on designers to
lower energy usage as much as possible. This creates a driving
force for energy-efficient cool metal roofing as well as
energy-efficient roofing assemblies. A metal roof will be
looked upon as a favorable platform for rooftop renewable
energy generation," Kriner said.
To capitalize on roof replacements, the MRA is focusing on
direct marketing to home owners. "We go directly to the
consumer," Hippard said. "A metal roof is still a premium cost,
but when you do a lifecycle cost analysis metal is still a
bargain. But homeowners are recognizing the potential energy
savings and increased life of the product and are willing to
make the switch from shingles to metal."
Over a 60-year period, the installation and upkeep of a
metal roof is expected to cost $9,460 compared with $34,615 for
an asphalt roof, the MRA said.
While residential metal reroofing has been fairly immune to
the effects of the downturn in the construction sector,
nonresidential building starts and upgrades are still trying to
find their bottom. "Demand trends for roofing appear to be
fairly flat with no expectations for an increase until late
2011 or into 2012," Packard said. "Nonresidential markets are
essentially in the process of hitting bottom. The normal
downcycle is three to five years, so we can expect
nonresidential to be flat for another year before starting to
come back to life."
Metal roofing manufacturers are striving to keep their
volumes up, which benefits the consumer. "Competition is fierce
in both the metal building and roofing industries due to the
limited amount of work and the number of competitors trying to
survive. Now is a good time to reroof your house with a metal
roof," he said.
Packard acknowledges that some players, unable to compete,
will exit the market. "I have to assume there will be companies
failing over the next two years in both the metal building and
roofing industries," he said.