Single-Ply & Fiberglass Shingles Continue to Grow in the West
by Marc Dodson, editor
The Western construction industry continues its meteoric rise with no sign of slowing in sight. By all accounts, roofing contractors couldn’t be happier about the current economic boom. We spoke with both roofing contractors and manufacturers, and the story was the same. There are simply more jobs than they can handle. According to our readers, the roofing market in the West will continue its current spectacular rise. The only factor hindering further growth in many areas is the lack of qualified personnel to apply the roofs.
In our annual reader survey, the response was once again positive across the board. The only complaint heard frequently was not enough skilled, or even unskilled labor. Roofing contractors were turning down jobs, or adding them to an ever-increasing backlog, all due to not enough boots on the roof to take on more work. This lack of labor is costing contractors money during a growing economy.
The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America recently reported that, compared to last year, construction employment is up in 250 out of 358 metro areas nationwide. The areas not reporting an increase were all in the East, with the single exception of Longview, Texas. The Texas metro area reported a 9% decrease in construction activity. The Arizona market, specifically Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale, added the most construction workers with a 14% increase over the previous year. Construction jobs rose by over 320,000 across the United States over the previous year. Overall, construction employment is up in 43 states over the same period last year. The roofing activity increase is across the board with both the residential and low-slope markets steadily rising.
Our survey shows that the economic predictions of over 2,000 Western contractors are more optimistic than ever before. They are enthusiastic about the Western construction economy, and are predicting business will continue to increase for several years to come. The vast majority of the work involved reroofing, maintenance, or repairs. However, many also stated that they continue to see more new construction in their markets.
Steep-Slope & Low-Slope
Reroofing will again make up the majority of the steep-slope market this year. Several market indicators, including a rise in the resale of existing homes, as well as reports from construction material manufacturers, have shown an increase in new housing being built. Additionally, housing prices of existing homes continue to rise across most of the West. This trend we see continuing for several years.
While new low-slope construction is also increasing steadily, once again, reroofing and recover will account for the majority of growth this year. The low-slope market is expected to capture about 56% of the total this year with steep-slope taking about 44%, a slight increase for the steep-slope portion of the pie.
Overall, the projected 2019 market is 32% for new construction, 49% reroofing, and 19% repairs and maintenance. New construction rose by 3% this past year, the same as the previous year.
Western Product Mix
In the low-slope market, TPO continues to take the biggest cut of the roofing pie in the West with a 29.8% share, up again from the previous year. Metal roofing, both architectural and structural, also showed significant increases. Other materials remained steady with only minor fluctuations.
On the residential side, the top performer in the West for 2019 will once again be fiberglass shingles with a commanding 62% of the market. This is up from last year as the majority of the sales of fiberglass/laminated shingles come from the high-end. Also, major manufacturers continue to emphasize their premium product lines, the majority being applied on reroofing projects.
Slight increases were seen in metal roofing materials. These are all roofing products normally associated with new construction, which is a very good sign. The market shares are based on dollar volume of the jobs as reported by contractors answering our surveys.
Western roofing contractors state they expect both the commercial and residential roofing markets to continue to steadily increase. As in previous years, the biggest obstacle most Western roofing contractors are facing is finding, and keeping, qualified roofing contractors to do the work. All independent financial and economic surveys that we found reported good news for the foreseeable future. The Western construction industry continues its upswing in new construction starts. The consensus is that the Western roofing industry can expect the solid growth pattern to continue for several years, and that’s good news for Western roofing contractors.