Code Approval of Asphalt Shingle High-Wind Performance Standards Coincides With Record Hurricane Season

'Monster' storms prove durability and value of asphalt roofing products, says Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association

Washington, D.C. – In a season of ferocious, back-to-back storms that put millions of Florida homes through what one witness described as “the ultimate reality test,” asphalt shingles—the roofing material used on most of the homes—again proved their mettle despite everything Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne could throw at them.

News photos in the wake of the storms show homes with roofs blown completely off or partially destroyed, but many with their roofing shingles still attached. “I would say asphalt shingles didn’t do badly, considering the nature of this storm,” said David Roodvoets, an independent consultant to the roofing industry, who observed the devastation firsthand as part of an evaluation task force following Hurricane Charley. “From what I could see, the newer materials, especially, performed well.”

The destruction wreaked by Hurricane Andrew a decade ago resulted in more stringent building codes that tightened regulations for residential and commercial construction—in part to ensure that homes and the materials they are built with could withstand even nature’s fury.

This year’s extraordinary hurricane season just happens to coincide with the acceptance of new high-wind performance standards for asphalt shingles in the recently enacted International Building Code. The standards, published in the 2004 IBC Supplement, will help architects, builders and homeowners when choosing asphalt shingles for homes in designated High Wind Zones, including storm-prone areas where wind speeds can reach 150 mph.

“It may be a coincidence that the new high-wind test standards were just approved, but it’s no accident,” said Russ Snyder, Executive Vice President of the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA). “We’ve spent nearly 15 years promoting research and development of new test methods for asphalt shingle performance in high-wind situations, and now that the IBC has recognized it, we feel our work has been justified.”

“We still need to have these standards written into the Residential Code,” Snyder added, “but this approval of the new test standards provides the guidance currently lacking in code language as to how asphalt roof shingles should be classified and applied in specific situations, such as in these high-wind zones.”

A second ARMA proposal to the International Code Council, calling for revisions to current International Residential Code (IRC) language to reflect the new standards, is underway. The revision addresses the application of the new standards as they relate to shingles suitable for use in areas where wind speeds exceed 90mph, (Class D wind zone), 120mph (Class G) and 150mph (Class H).

Code adoption of the new standards will enable building owners, engineering system designers, contractors and installers to specify the proper shingle for any project, even in code-designated High Wind Zones. The new classification system will also aid plan reviewers and code-enforcement inspectors who regulate building code requirements.

“Many local officials have been struggling to enforce code standards that, until now, were vague and indeterminate,” Snyder said. “This lack of clarity threatened to eliminate, by default, a whole class of legitimate products from consideration. The new ruling eliminates the possibility of local jurisdictions outlawing asphalt shingles simply because of a lack of wind-uplift resistance standards.”

The new standards, ANSI/UL2390-04 “Test Method for the Wind Resistance of Asphalt Shingles with Sealed Tabs,” and ASTM D6381 “Measurement of Asphalt Shingle Mechanical Uplift Resistance,” are expected to be included in the 2005 edition of the International Residential Code. The test methods were developed over a 14-year period through the combined efforts of ARMA, code officials, wind engineers and the insurance industry.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association is the North American trade association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of bituminous-base residential and commercial fiberglass and organic asphalt shingle roofing products, roll roofing, built-up [BUR] roofing systems, and modified bitumen roofing systems. For more information on the high-wind performance of asphalt shingles and other roofing topics, building industry professionals and consumers alike can visit the ARMA Web site at www.asphaltroofing.org. For additional information concerning ARMA, its programming and activities, contact ARMA at: [202] 207-0917; fax: [202] 223-9741; or visit the ARMA web site at: www.asphaltroofing.org.

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