September 11, 2023
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 help mitigate these losses and better serve the roofing industry, UL Solutions and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) have announced a new cooperative program for a roofing shingle performance evaluation.
UL Solutions’ experience in residential roofing impact resistance testing
We have a rich history in the roofing industry and have been evaluating residential roofing shingles for the perils of fire for more than 60 years and wind performance for more than 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 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 our certification database, UL Product iQ®.
The UL Solutions–IBHS roofing shingle performance evaluation program
While 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 back side of shingles, but do not account for denting or granule loss damage that a homeowner or insurance adjuster can observe.
IBHS gained a better understanding of the material properties of natural hail, researched a way to replicate hailstones in a laboratory environment and used them to develop a new impact resistance test protocol for asphalt shingles. This protocol more effectively determines which shingles may prove more resilient to hail in terms of aesthetic damage and breaching.
What led to this cooperative alliance?
UL Solutions’ longstanding involvement with impact resistance testing and certification of residential roofing led to this alliance as part of a natural progression of in-depth industry knowledge and expertise between UL Solutions and IBHS.
UL Solutions 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 for examining shingle material variances that result in denting and granule loss as well as tears and breaches. Under the new cooperative alliance between UL Solutions and IBHS, the industry will be able to work directly with UL Solutions for testing per the new IBHS rating protocol for product research and development needs.
How the evaluation program works
There are two paths in which shingle manufacturers can engage with UL Solutions and IBHS to evaluate hail impact performance per the IBHS rating program. Each requires the roofing shingle to be certified to UL 2218 as a baseline requirement.
- Research and design testing – UL Solutions works directly with manufacturers to conduct research and exploratory testing using the IBHS performance rating protocol. We provide the results to the manufacturer, who can use them to help enhance product design and performance.
- IBHS performance ratings – If a manufacturer is interested in IBHS including their material in the IBHS shingle performance rating site, testing will be coordinated through UL Solutions using samples obtained by IBHS directly from the marketplace every two years. IBHS will review test results and assign shingle performance ratings. Furthermore, shingle manufacturers can contact IBHS directly to establish a project outside of the normal two-year selection cycle.
The growing relationship between IBHS and UL Solutions will help meet the increasing demand for testing as the roofing industry continues to improve asphalt shingle performance. Working with UL Solutions not only helps manufacturers build trust in products but also helps build confidence in product brands. Our testing, inspection and certification services help manufacturers get compliant products to the market more safely and quickly.
Authored by: Dwayne Sloan, director, Principal Engineering
William Henry Merrill Society
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