From the Experts: ATAS International

The Metal Construction Association recently developed a Metal Roofing Certification Program as a way to identify varied levels of quality available in the market place for metal roofing products. This certification was developed to promote the widespread use of “appropriate” metal roofing products and to increase consumer confidence in choosing a metal roof.

Why is certification necessary? Some reports have identified that metal roofing has more than 10 percent of the market share in steep-slope roofing applications. As the forecasts continue to add further growth of metal roofing in this market, the choices for products available to the consumer are also increasing. When the choices available increase, often the consumers are overwhelmed with options available to them and do not truly understand the performance levels of products available to them.

Other industries that have implemented product standards and certification programs similar in nature to the MCA program have shown certification can offer numerous benefits to the industry itself, manufacturers, installers, as well as the general public. With the tremendous outlay of promotional efforts being put forth within the industry, concern has risen that certain levels of quality must be adhered to, to continue the perceived level of performance being touted as the biggest advantage of metal roofing versus competing products.

The primary components of the MCA Certification Program are that products must meet or exceed standards published in the MCA’s Guide Specification for Residential Metal Roofing. Products must meet minimum standards set forth for base metal quality and have paint coatings that meet “real-time” weathering exposure requirements as outlined in this guide specification. Products are identified as MCA Certified Natural Finish (or when no paint finish is applied such as mill finish copper, zinc or certain metallic coated steels), MCA Certified Standard Painted and MCA Certified Premium Painted.

The above program in some ways was designed to eliminate confusion regarding the wide range of warranties available in the market associated with painted metal roof panels. It is often not uncommon to see longer term warranties tied into painted products within the industry that are inferior to other painted products that are industry accepted as better quality paint systems. Often hidden within the warranty is greater allowance for chalk and fade of the paint system versus those better quality systems.

Also, it became apparent many products initially designed for agricultural use were being introduced to the higher end architectural steep slope metal roof market. These products may not only have questionable long-term performing paint systems, but often have base metals not designed or intended for long-term performing products. In essence, the certification program allows for an easy method for all parties to identify and discuss levels of quality.

The certification program identifies performance values for actual weathered product in south Florida for a period of 5 years for standard painted systems and 10 years for premium painted systems. The actual weathered product testing is considered to be a more true to life performance value than accelerated test methods often used. The truth is actual field performance can not be questioned versus the accelerated test methods which often do not identify true performance of paint.

The program is governed by third-party verification of a manufacturer’s quality control procedure to ensure compliance with the program. Actual paint system manufacturers must first obtain approval of their paint systems’ performance which is then carried over to individual product manufacturers. Product manufacturers must then submit an application to the MCA for approval.

Presently the program does not affect or govern product acceptance by current recognized building codes. In most cases, meeting the requirements of the MCA Certification Program will result in products that meet or exceed current weatherization requirements of model building codes. This will aid in establishing this program as the benchmark for quality metal roof products. Program participation is available to paint and coating manufacturers, roofing product manufacturers, coil processors and regional manufacturers/mobile roll formers.

All parties involved in the certification process will benefit by the promotion of these programs. Setting a high quality standard will establish a baseline for current and future metal roof products and ensure owners of both commercial and residential structures will receive the long term value of their metal roofing choice.

An owner should also be aware that selection of a Certified Metal Roof Product is only a part of a successful roof installation. Installation qualifications should also be reviewed and manufacturer’s installation instructions followed. MR

Jim Bush is the vice president of sales at ATAS International, a leading manufacturer in the metal roofing and wall systems industry. Jim has over 25 years of experience in the metal roofing and siding industry. Bush’s association involvement includes chairman of the MCA Roofing Council,  Chair of the MCA Roofing Certification Committee,  a member of the RICOWI Wind and Hail Investigation Teams, member of CSI and annually organizes the Demonstration Area at METALCON International. Jim also speaks at seminars throughout the country providing information on sales opportunities with metal roofing, performance of metal roofing in weather events and “green” topics such as cool roofing, BIPV systems and transpired solar collectors. He can be reached at ATAS International, Inc, 6612 Snowdrift Road, Allentown, PA 18106 or jbush@atas.com.

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