Manufacturer testing: Stone-coated testing

You may not have given a lot of thought to it, but metal shingles are subject to testing as well. Jim Sauter is the director of product business and development at DECRA Roofing Products and oversees much of the testing conducted on products by DECRA, a manufacturer of stone-coated steel roofing products.

After a conversation with Sauter about the testing of DECRA panels, you wonder how he can keep it straight.

(For a story on the testing of standing seam panels, click here.)

“Testing covers a lot,” he says. “From what we do in-house to what we have done in labs. Ultimately, it has to be a product that improves the integrity of the structure.”

Sauter believes DECRA products are tested as much or more than all of its stone-coated competitors, meeting wind uplift and wind-driven standards in California, Texas and all parts of Florida, including the strictest Miami-Dade Building Code Compliance area. DECRA profiles also meet the toughest hail requirements in Texas.

In Texas, to get a Class 4 hail rating, the test cannot result in a hole in the roofing material. It may end up looking pretty beat up, but it will still function — meaning it won’t leak. One DECRA customer received an insurance discount of about 33 percent because of the hail rating. (Like everything else in Texas, insurance rates are big because of hail, wind and hurricanes, so a 33 percent discount is significant.)

The only catch to the hail policy was the customer had to sign a cosmetic waiver, meaning no matter what the panels look like after a hail storm, if it’s not leaking, it won’t be replaced. So the insurance company won’t pay for cosmetic damage. Sauter points out that cosmetic hail damage is less noticeable with a stone-coated metal shingle than it is with a flat standing seam panel and not a big deal to most customers, especially when earning a significant insurance discount.

Wherever a roofing manufacturer does business or wants to do business, the local codes and standards are a requirement. And it applies to all forms of roofing. Sauter says metal and tile roofing were always grandfathered as a Class A fire rated material. The 2009 fire standards require metal and tile product be tested (UL 790). Governing bodies will eventually update their codes to require the 2009 standard be met — which means more testing.

“Counting consulting time, which DECRA pays for, we probably spend 20 hours a month on testing and that doesn’t include the cost of total test,” Sauter says. “It’s over $70,000 a year for testing, depending on what’s going on, what needs to be renewed.

“We’re trying to make our product as installer friendly as possible. The easier it is to install, the more profitable it is for our customers. To meet various wind ratings, there are three or four installation methods and they vary from using smooth nails to ring shank nails to screws and different size screws. Then we deal with placement. For wind rating, it all comes down to what fastener and how many are required to hold it into a wood deck.”

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