July 6, 2021
Authored by: Alfredo M. Ramirez, business development manager, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff - William Henry Merrill Society
Hailstorms take place relatively frequently in the United States. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Severe Storms database, there were 5,396 major hailstorms in the U.S. in 2019. Annual losses from hailstorms have reached a yearly average of $10 billion (USD). To reduce these losses and better serve the roofing industry, UL and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) have announced a new partnership for a roofing shingle performance evaluation program.
UL’s experience in residential roofing impact resistance testing
We have a rich history within the roofing industry and have been evaluating residential roofing shingles for the perils of fire for over 60 years and wind performance for over 25 years. In the 1990s, Underwriters Laboratories worked with industry and insurance companies to develop and publish UL 2218, the Standard for Impact Resistance of Prepared Roof Covering Materials. The UL 2218 testing and certification approach results in four class ratings – Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 – based on replicating impact energies for natural hailstones by dropping steel balls from various heights.
This UL 2218 certification approach results in impact resistance rated products that carry the UL Mark and appear in UL Product iQ®, our certification database.
The UL-IBHS roofing shingle performance evaluation program
While the UL 2218 impact-resistant (IR) asphalt shingle certifications have served the marketplace well by enabling improved product performance in hailstorms, IBHS saw an opportunity to bring new science to these evaluations. UL 2218 requirements are based on physical breach damage viewed from the backside but do not account for denting or granule loss damage a homeowner or insurance adjuster can observe.
IBHS gained a better understanding of the material properties of natural hail, researched a way to replicate these test hailstones in a laboratory environment, and developed a new impact resistance test protocol for asphalt shingles. This protocol more effectively determines which shingles may be more resilient to hail in terms of aesthetic damage as well as breaching.
What led to this partnership?
UL’s longstanding involvement with impact resistance testing and certification of residential roofing led to this partnership as part of a natural progression of in-depth industry knowledge and expertise between UL and IBHS.
UL has many years of experience working with the roofing industry and pioneered an impact resistance (hail) test method and certification program. IBHS has research capabilities to conduct field hail studies and has now developed methods to evaluate additional surface characteristics of asphalt shingles subjected to more natural simulated hailstones. The IBHS protocol is not included as part of UL 2218 testing and certification, but allows a science-based testing methodology that can examine shingle material variances that result in denting and granule loss as well as tears and breaches.
The industry will be able to work directly with UL for conducting tests in accordance with the new IBHS rating protocol for their product research and development needs.
How the evaluation program works
There are two paths in which shingle manufacturers can engage with UL and IBHS for evaluating hail impact performance in accordance with the IBHS rating program. Each requires the roofing shingle be certified to UL 2218 as a baseline requirement.
- Research and design testing — UL works directly with manufacturers to conduct research and exploratory testing using the rating protocol. The results will be provided to the manufacturer who can use it to improve product designs and performance.
- IBHS performance ratings — If a manufacturer is interested in IBHS including their material in the IBHS shingle performance rating site, the testing will be coordinated through UL using samples obtained by IBHS directly from the marketplace every two years. IBHS will review test results and assign shingle performance ratings. Under other scenarios, shingle manufacturers can contact IBHS directly to establish a project outside of the normal two-year selection cycle.
Working with UL not only helps manufacturers build trust in products but also helps to build confidence in product brands. Our testing, inspection and certification services help manufacturers get compliant products to the market safely and quickly.
Webinar: UL Collaborates with IBHS for Shingle Performance Rating Testing
Learn about the New Shingle Performance Evaluation Program, a collaboration between UL and the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).