Roofing Warranties Explained
Learn about the differences between workmanship warranties and standard and extended roofing warranties.
Having a new roof installed is a substantial investment, and it’s easy to get caught up comparing the various grades of roofing shingles and choosing the most attractive profile and color for your home. However, making sure you have adequate warranty protection is also a consideration. Roofing warranties can seem overwhelmingly complicated, which makes understanding all your coverage options even more important so you can make an informed decision about your roofing material and who installs it.
Understanding the Basics of Roofing Warranties
Although it may seem as though there’s a wide range of warranties offered on roofing, there are just three main types:
- The standard manufacturer’s warranty that covers the products you purchase.
- A workmanship warranty from your contractor that covers the installation.
- An extended manufacturer’s warranty that covers contractor workmanship along with expanded coverage for the products.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at the coverage provided by each type and explain what it means in practical terms.
Standard Manufacturers’ Warranties
Most roofing shingles come with a basic limited lifetime warranty, which is the industry standard. In most cases, a lifetime warranty means you’re covered as long as you own your home. The degree of protection you receive depends on the definition of “limited,” and this can vary depending on the manufacturer:
Most manufacturer warranties strictly cover the cost of defective materials, so you’re responsible for any labor charges to remove and dispose of failed shingles and install the replacements.
Most manufacturers cover the cost of replacing defective shingles for the first few years and then offer prorated coverage from that point on. If any shingles are found to be defective during the initial period, the manufacturer gives you replacement shingles at no cost. This initial coverage also includes labor costs for installation of the replacement shingles but doesn’t cover the tear-off and disposal of the defective shingles. If a failure happens during the prorated period, you’ll receive just a portion of the cost or a lesser amount of new shingles.
Industry-wide, these standard manufacturer warranties only provide coverage against factory defects: they don’t cover shingles that prematurely fail because mistakes were made during installation, or issues with any other components your roofer installed, such as ice and water shield, underlayment, flashing, or ventilation products. Depending on the manufacturer of these other components, they may be covered by individual warranties against defects, as well.
Contractor Workmanship Warranties
The contractor who installs your roofing plays a key role in its performance and longevity. Reputable, skilled roofers stand behind each installation job with a workmanship warranty. The length of this type of warranty can vary a lot depending on the contractor, but some offer lifetime coverage. While a longer coverage period is better, a good workmanship warranty should protect you against material failures that occur because of worker errors or improper installation techniques regardless of the coverage term.
Contractor workmanship warranties typically cover the cost of labor and any materials needed to make necessary repairs, and many also cover any related damages done to the home’s interior, as well as your furnishings and personal effects.
Contractor warranties typically exclude issues that aren’t related to their installation workmanship, such as:
- Storm, high wind, and impact damage
- Water damage due to ice dams
- Damages if the roof was altered after installation
- The harm caused by foot traffic
- Leaks triggered by falling tree limbs or wind-driven debris
Factors such as a contractor’s length of time in business, their track record of doing quality work, and commitment to customer satisfaction should trump any warranty they claim to offer, so be sure to vet anyone you’re considering hiring thoroughly.
Extended Manufacturer Warranties = Comprehensive Coverage
Leading manufacturers understand the direct connection between installation quality and how well their roofing products perform long-term. To help homeowners get lasting value and provide peace of mind, they offer optional extended warranty coverage on new roofs installed by authorized contractors who are certified to install the roofing system according to the manufacturer’s installation requirements.
Most extended warranties are available for an additional cost and require that you have a complete roof system installed, which usually includes certain coordinating components such as:
- Ice and water barriers
- Hip and ridge cap shingles
- Soffit and ridge vents
- Starter and field shingles
The most comprehensive extended warranties offered by trusted manufacturers provide a range of benefits, such as:
- Coverage for all roof system components: Excluding flashing, wood decking, and fasteners
- Lengthy, non-prorated, or continuous, coverage for defective materials: Typically includes labor costs for repairs or replacements and is extendable for up to 50 years
- Workmanship coverage against installation errors of the roof system: Term may be lifetime with prorating beginning after a certain number of years and includes labor, tear-off, and disposal costs