Understanding Roof Warranties


Warranties are often misunderstood, especially when it comes to roofing. There are warranties offered by the manufacturer, as well as some offered by the installer, often with a lot of fine print. Before making the investment to purchase or repair your roof, pay close attention to the warranty, as all warranties are not created equal. Knowing what is covered will give you greater confidence in your purchase, and strengthen any claim you submit.


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Manufacturer Warranties

In general, a manufacturing warranty covers defects or problems that occurred in the manufacturing process. Companies typically stand behind their product against manufacturing defects for an amount of time expressly specified in the warranty. There are many terms used in product warranties, and they might not always mean what you think. There’s “lifetime,” “prorated,” “full-coverage” and “systems” warranties that all refer to different levels of coverage. 

A lifetime warranty means coverage for as long as you, as an individual homeowner, own your home—NOT for the life of the home. This also does not assume the shingles will last a lifetime. Many manufacturers offer extended warranties when the product is installed by credentialed installers who install the product per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Prorated coverage means your coverage reduces in value until it reaches zero percent at the end of the specified warranty period. So, if you have a claim in year eight of a 10-year policy, you would only receive 20 percent of your established value.
Full-coverage warranties are rare, yet offer the full-value replacement for a state length of time. So, if you make a claim in the eight year of a 10-year warranty, the full amount is covered. Full coverage, however, is defined differently among companies. Some will term full coverage as the original cost of the installation, while others will use current fair-market value.


Contractor Warranties

While manufacturers often support superior workmanship by offering credentialing programs, training, and even on-site assistance to contactors, manufacturers typically don’t insure workmanship. For this reason, many contractors offer their own workmanship warranty, which typically assures that any work installed will be of good quality and free from defects for at least one to two years. These warranties assume that the products used are of good quality and that installation conforms to the manufacturer’s recommended installation guidelines. Workmanship warranties do not provide remedy for damage or defect caused by abuse, modifications by someone other than the contractor, improper use/maintenance, or normal wear and tear under normal usage.


System Warranties

System warranties combine product and installation warranties into one, and are typically provided by the roofing manufacturer. System warranties are generally only available when the system components are from the same manufacturer, since all parts are designed to work together according the manufacturer specifications.

The Right Fit for you

With all the variety of warranties on the market, it’s important to understand your coverage and how it meets your needs. Do your research before deciding on a contractor or product, and ask questions if you’re unsure about what is covered. Knowing your warranty thoroughly will help you feel better about your roof purchase, and provide you with a big advantage if you ever need to make a claim.