FACTS about Public Roofing Procurement, and Oversight. Copyright 2010 by Robert R. Solomon

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Comparison between N. America, and European Roofing Technique"

Well folks, it's been some time since I last posted (forgive me), but I think this topic is an interesting one.

I cannot speak with authority on European themes, as I haven't been intimately involved with these processes.  But, I can share thought from my European colleagues who regularly visit with me here.

A couple of things stand out to me, not the least of which is total land mass, and population density.  This will lead us to average high/low temperatures, and of course average rainfall.

The Asphalt Roofing & Manufacturer's Association (ARMA) says this:  http://www.asphaltroofing.org/

History of Asphalt Roofing

History of Asphalt RoofingSince its discovery more than 5,000 years ago, asphalt has proved to be one of nature's most useful – and abundant – materials.
Though you may never have considered it, asphalt (a petroleum byproduct), is a naturally occurring part of the environment. (And now thanks to advances in technology, asphalt roofing products are as friendly to the environment as they are to the buildings they protect.)

No stranger to the building industry itself, asphalt has been used successfully as an excellent natural preservative, as well as an outstanding waterproofing and adhesive agent for centuries. For the past 150 years, in fact, asphalt has proved the most popular roofing material in North America. And deservedly so!

"General Mission of ARMA"  
  • To promote and further the sale and use of bituminous-based roofing products.
  • To defend and protect the asphalt roofing industry from actions that may restrict the sale of certain bituminous-based roofing products.
  • To provide a forum to coordinate activities that would benefit from group attention.
  • To provide liaison with others having an influence on the industry (i.e., other associations, building code agencies, etc.).
  • To serve as a voice for the industry, presenting collective positions on issues of concern.
  • To maintain a strong and active membership.

History Channel Explores Asphalt Roofing In Modern Marvel's "Secrets of Oil"

[Washington, DC] (September 15, 2008) –The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association [ARMA] is featured in a new episode of The History Channel's Modern Marvels series titled "Secrets of Oil." The episode includes a segment on asphalt shingles -- one of today's marvels, which is used on approximately 80 percent of homes in the United States.  Modern Marvels looks at the ways oil is used beyond gasoline and transportation. It shows how asphalt shingles are made and the benefits they bring to rooftops.
"Asphalt shingles are the leading choice for residential roofing in the United States because they provide quality, durability, versatility and economy," said Reed Hitchcock, Executive Director, ARMA. "Asphalt is the key to the durability of asphalt shingles, allowing them to endure harsh weather conditions all year round in every climate."
For the past 150 years, asphalt has proved the most popular roofing material in North America. Today four out of five homes are roofed with asphalt shingles. More than 12.5 billion square feet of asphalt shingle products are manufactured annually, which is enough to cover more than 5 million homes.
The benefits of asphalt shingles include:  You will notice the complete absence of environmental benefit.
  • Product Performance -- Asphalt shingles perform well in extreme temperatures and in areas where wind, water and ice are prevalent.
  • Affordability -- The efficient, high-volume production and relatively low application cost of asphalt shingles provide consumers with an overall value that’s tough for other roofing materials to match, especially in terms of comparable life expectancy.
  • Low Maintenance -- Asphalt shingles, when properly chosen and applied, require little or no regular upkeep and are easily repaired if damaged.
  • Ease of Application -- Asphalt shingles are considered to be the easiest of all standard roofing materials to apply. In addition, the flexibility and strength of asphalt shingles supports their application on a wide variety of roof designs.
  • Fire & Wind Resistance -- Asphalt shingles are manufactured to resist external fire and meet flammability standards. They  carry Class A, B or C fire ratings, with Class A providing the greatest fire resistance. These fire ratings are defined by nationally recognized standards and certified by independent testing agencies. In addition, many asphalt shingles carry a "wind resistance" label indicating that they have been manufactured and tested to demonstrate acceptable resistance in high-wind locations.
  • Aesthetic Appeal -- Asphalt shingles offer consumers the broadest array of colors, shapes, and textures available. With an enormous range of styles, asphalt shingles can match almost every type of architectural design and achieve virtually any desired effect – and do it affordably.
To find out when “Modern Marvels: Secrets of Oil" will air next, visit www.history.com/shows.do?episodeId=337088&action=detail.
For additional information concerning asphalt roofing and ARMA, visit www.asphaltroofing.org.
About the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association
The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) is the North American trade association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of bituminous-based residential and commercial fiberglass and organic asphalt shingle roofing products, roll roofing, built-up (BUR) roofing systems, and modified bitumen roofing systems.
This next document describes actual makeup of the most widely used shingle in the world, GAF’s “Timberline”.  As shingles go, it is a very fine choice, and backed by an outstanding manufacturer, GAF.
Asphalt 8052-42-4
This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to
cause cancer and birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
Cancer: Asphalt.
Other state regulations may apply. Check individual state requirements. The following components appear on
one or more of the following state hazardous substances lists:
8052-42-4 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Direct implantation of glass fibers into the lung tissue of laboratory
animals has produced lung fibrosis and lung cancer. Human
epidemiological studies of inhalation exposure have yielded negative results. NTP Listed; Carcinogen IARC Class 3C.

Did you notice the 12.5 BILLION square feet?  Where do you think all that bituminous tear off material goes?  Asphalt is "Friendly to the Environment"?  Positively absurd.  It is OIL, plain and simple. No animal on earth eats it, and it will never break down in landills.

Is it a good idea to install an oil based roof in a hotter climate?  Well, they don't tell you that white asphalt shingles can easily reach surface temperatures of 200 degrees F.  The petroleum acts as a "convection oven" since the sun "sees" them as black.

Then there's the nutrient runoff in both nitrogen and phosphorous which starves water of oxygen, and subsequent microbial growth.

Okay, buildings in Europe demand "Long Term" solutions like concrete tile, clay tile, copper, standing seam metal roofing, in order to last, and to preserve great architectural monuments.  The buildings in America are maximum 236 years old or less.  European structures have far more character, and provenance, dating back many centuries.  The population there is not used to "Cheap" asphalt shingles, nor will they get used to it.

European examples:

I admire the artisan effect of "Old World" techniques that WORK.  Gee Ron, a tile roof costs twice as much as a shingle roof.  Okay.  The tile roof (if installed properly, and with proper underlayment, and flashings) will be tho ONLY roof you will ever buy.  Shingle roofs are designed to fail, and degrade over a relatively short period of time.  In Florida, a 20 year shingle must (generally) be replaced within 12 years.

Doesn't seem like much of a "Bargain", does it?

I'm trying to study European roofing techniques, and hopefully import more "long range thinking" to my colleagues.  Asphalt shingles serve no real purpose in terms of value, energy, clean water, or serviceability.

It's absolutely maddening to see asphalt shingle roofs on million dollar homes.  Why would you choose to make a focal point of shingles?  Oh yeah, because it's "Cheap".

At least we have choices, and many factors go into selecting the correct roof system.  If you are in a very short term investment, I can see how it may be an option.  But if you're going to live in the house, I would suggest not greatly devaluating your home with asphalt shingles.

No disrespect to my many friends in the asphalt shingle business,

Thank you so much for visiting with me, and I am very thankful if anything I have to share is useful to you.

Reject negativity in all forms, and remember to always keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon
Manager, Roof Consultant's Alliance


  1. I agree with this entire post. Asphalt roofing does not help our current oil issues at all. I really don't like Asphalt from an environmental or practical standpoint. The best sentence of this post is, "Asphalt shingles serve no real purpose in terms of value, energy, clean water, or serviceability." All 4 aspects have been backed by factual information by Ron.

    We are so caught up in Asphaltic roofing that when anyone provides evidence against it, nothing is ever changed. Too often people want to change the facts and not the theory. FACTS CAN NEVER BE CHANGED.

  2. Whatever style of roofing we choose, durability and efficiency still matter the most. Some from the eastern region are using the European style and designs, and vice versa. The green roofing from that building should be imitated by big enterprises, though, to promote a cleaner air for us to breathe.

  3. I like the way you are making things easier to do. As a real novice in blogging, getting this type of help is wonderful.Thanks for showing us new ways to do things!

  4. Very wise progressive blog. Im a single ply roofer working in the UK. Over here asphalt and most other bitumous products are being used less and less. Though we don't have the same extremes of temperature as Florida or hurricanes, we do have a lot of health and safety, and enviromental legislation limiting its use. This has lead to an increase in the use of single ply products such as Sarnafil and bauder. An area of the industry that commands around 35% of the market! Single ply brings many of the benefits that you speak of, with a choice of colours and thickness reinforced or un reinforced, mechanical fix or fully bonded it has the ability to suit any substrate! It also has fantastic insulating properties and an unrivalled ability to reflect the suns heat!! And with new materials becoming available with solar panels incorporated in the product it has a great future ahead!

  5. It is kin of irritating to see an extremely valuable and vanity filled home, only to be topped off by asphalt shingles. Their cheap because they are easy to manufacture and use cheap material.

    -Keystone Contracting Corp.

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