by Matt Zielenski
December 7, 2021
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US roofing market saw solid growth in 2020 and 2021. Roofing demand surged due to a high level of housing starts and strong consumer interest in home improvement projects, such as replacing older or worn roofing, combined with a heavy storm year. This uptick in roof installation activity also spurred increases in demand for underlayment. Rarely appreciated by many consumers, underlayment plays an important role in a roof assembly, minimizing the incidence of leaks and improving the energy efficiency of a structure. So, after the gains of 2020 and 2021, what does the future hold for the roofing underlayment market?
Synthetic underlayment – which is made from plastic films bonded to a nonwoven fabric – has overtaken asphaltic types (made from layers of asphalt deposited on a fiberglass or organic fiber backing) as most used type of underlayment in the US. Contractors have adopted synthetic products because they:
Going forward, synthetic underlayment will continue to take market share from asphaltic products. Contractors will specify synthetic products because of their ability to reduce the time and difficulty of roofing jobs – a key issue when construction professionals face the challenges of completing jobs on-time and on-budget.
One of the factors that has propelled usage of synthetic underlayment has been that it has traditionally been more widely available in self-adhesive varieties. These products – which feature a peel-and-stick backing – greatly facilitate installation, as it takes much less time to apply them than it does to mechanically attach (i.e., nail) underlayment to a roof deck. Self-adhesive products are increasingly preferred by roofing professionals faced with a shortage of trained installers and must increasingly rely on less-skilled roofers to complete roofing jobs. Manufacturers of both synthetic and asphaltic underlayment will boost their offerings of self-adhesive products, which allow only modestly trained crews to more quickly complete roofing jobs.
One of the main reasons why underlayment is installed is to provide supplemental protection against the formation of leaks. Traditionally, most underlayment was considered to be “water-resistant,” in that it could inhibit leaks, thereby allowing time for a building owner to undertake needed repairs. More recently, though, manufacturers have worked to develop underlayments that are “waterproof” and thus completely prevent leaks. These products – which include both synthetic underlayment and asphaltic products made with polymer-modified asphalt formulations – are increasingly being specified by contractors and construction professionals because they prolong the lifespan of roof assemblies.
For more information about the US roofing underlayment market, check out The Freedonia Group’s new study, Roofing Underlayment.
About the Author:
Matt Zielenski is a Senior Analyst at The Freedonia Group, where he covers trends in the use of building materials and related construction products in the US market.
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