COVID-19 upended life as we knew it in 2020, and the commercial roofing industry was not immune to the fallout. COVID-19 initially caused supply bottlenecks, labor shortages, and enforced pauses in construction. Many of those problems, including a spike in the price of lumber, have been causing difficulties for building managers throughout 2021. As the year comes to an end, we’re looking back and then looking ahead: What did 2021 bring for the commercial roofing industry, and what’s on the horizon for roofing trends in 2022?
2021 in Commercial Roofing: A Recap
Two trends defined 2021 in commercial roofing—material shortages and worker safety.
First, facility managers suddenly found materials in short supply. The price of 1000 board-feet of lumber spiked to over $1000 (ordinarily around $400). In addition, much of the increase in demand came from consumers performing home repairs or renovations, which crowded out commercial buyers. The price of steel has also risen—at one point it was priced at 300% over its pre-pandemic levels. The price tag hasn’t lowered much, and with continued shortages, it’s become difficult to repair existing roofs or construct new ones.
These issues mean that facility managers must inspect their roofs even more carefully than before and take additional measures to protect their rooftops, a reality that is likely to continue.
In addition to supply shortages, facility managers are dealing with a shortage of human resources as well. Construction industries are experiencing an across-the-board labor shortage, with 92 percent of contractors having difficulty finding skilled workers. The most successful employers are tempting workers back with higher pay and increased safety policies regarding hygiene and contamination. The heightened focus on safety has translated to all areas of the job, making things like rooftop support systems an even more valuable investment.
2022: A Greener Future for Commercial Roofs?
As far as 2022 is concerned, roofing trends are anything but predictable. The only things that are certain are that the existing industry will need to regain its workforce and overcome supply chain shortages. It will also need to pivot towards sustainability. If it can do this, it stands poised to meet a vast emerging demand for roofing construction. If it can’t, then incumbents may find themselves uprooted by organizations who can pivot to overcome emerging challenges.
First, there’s the workforce to consider. Global roofing sales are projected to hit $101.9 billion by 2027. To meet this demand, however, existing companies are going to need more employees. Getting jobs back into the roofing sector means increasing pay and quelling fears of infectious disease.
Incumbents may think that they’re the only game in town, but they may be in for a surprise. If they can’t restore staffing levels, then companies making use of alternative construction methods or labor-saving materials might finally come to the fore. Look for headlines involving 3D printing, prefabrication, or even robotics—anything’s on the table when it comes to completing construction quickly and reliably.
Next, there’s sustainability to consider—a problem that might also become an opportunity for commercial roofing companies to overcome supply bottlenecks.
Right now, extreme weather events—such as the heat dome that covered much of North America over the summer—are becoming impossible to ignore. At the very least, building managers will be looking for ways to reduce their energy costs, allowing them to ride out heat waves without blowing their energy budget. Sustainable roofing materials such as green roofs, white membranes, or recycled rubber are durable and cost effective, and many of them can help buildings save energy as well.
Keeping building equipment in good shape is a great way to maximize efficiency. Equipment platforms and supports from PHP go a long way in preserving the integrity of your roof and the expensive equipment stored on it.
Prepare for a More Complicated Future with PHP Systems/Design
Whatever happens in 2022, the commercial roofing industry will need to be nimble and able to adapt to changes to thrive in the new year. Planning ahead and ensuring you’re doing the most you can to maintain your buildings and care for your workers will be your keys to success. PHP Systems/Design offers products that allow you to augment your workforce and improve the performance of innovative materials, which will save you time and money on labor and maintenance in the new year!