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Impact Resistant Roofing

On this page:
  • Best types of impact resistant roofing
  • What are class 4 shingles?
  • Is impact resistant roofing worth the investment?

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Durability is an important factor when selecting a roofing material for your home. Some materials, such as slate or clay roofing tile, naturally last longer than other materials, such as asphalt or composite shingles. Weather and climate also play an important role in how long your roof will last. Severe weather events, such as hail storms and high winds, can damage roofing materials and shorten the overall longevity of your roof. This is why if you live in an area with frequent inclement weather, installing impact resistant roofing can help alleviate damage from hail storms and other severe weather events.

Modernize created this guide on impact-resistant roofing to help homeowners better understand the benefits of this type of roofing material, how much it costs, whether or not it is worth it, and more. Read on to learn why impact-resistant roofing may be a good investment for your home.

What is an Impact Resistant Roof?

Millions of Americans live in areas that are prone to extreme weather events. Impact resistant roofing products are designed to thwart Mother Nature’s best attempts to wreak havoc on your roof. Impact resistant shingles were created with severe inclement weather events in mind. They feature additional engineering and materials that can help the roofing material better withstand impacts from hail or wind-driven objects. 

impact resistant roofing

These products were created following some severe storms in the mid-1990s that led to catastrophic home damage. One storm in particular, the 1995 Mayfest supercell storm that pummeled Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas, caused more than $2 billion in damage after dropping hailstones as large as four inches in diameter. By way of comparison, an adult-sized softball is 3.82 inches in diameter. Homes with tile and slate roofs suffered extensive damage from hail, which led to a nationwide effort by roofing manufacturers to create a standardized test to evaluate their products’ durability and resistance to impacts.

Impact resistant roofing is a good choice for homeowners who live in parts of the country that are prone to hail or wind-driven storm events, such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Extremely high winds typically create airborne debris that can strike and damage your roof. However, keep in mind that roofing material ratings for wind resistance (rather than hail) are an altogether different classification.

Does my Home Need a Hail Resistant Roof?

Hail can occur anywhere in the U.S., but it’s much more prevalent in a region known by weather experts as “Hail Alley.” This triangular-shaped region includes most of the Great Plains states starting in southwestern Texas over to northwest Missouri. It extends upwards to western South Dakota and back down to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. According to experts, this area of the U.S. receives the most hailstorms every year. Hailstorms typically happen in the spring and summer as humidity starts to build in the atmosphere.

Hail | National Risk Index

Source: FEMA.gov

The East Coast from Pennsylvania to Florida – especially Georgia and South Carolina – also is known to experience high hail activity.

Heavy hail can cause costly damage to your roof, especially if your roof does not have the right materials to withstand the impact. Hail resistant roofs can typically withstand hail stones of 2 inches in diameters or less without damaging your roof. If your home is located in Hail Alley or the other areas prone to hail as seen in the map above, it is recommended that you look into hail resistant roofing.

What Makes a Roof Impact Resistant?

There are two ways roofing materials are tested for impact resistance. The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) of Northbrook, Ill., and FM Approvals of West Glocester, R.I., both provide ratings for impact resistant roofing materials.

UL testing drops steel balls of varying sizes from different heights to test impact resistance. This test is known in the roofing industry as the “steel ball test.” A steel ball is dropped from a predetermined height on various types of roofing materials to see if the shingle, tile or slate breaks or cracks. A class 4 impact resistant shingle, the industry’s highest rating, must be able to remain intact after multiple impacts from a 2-inch steel ball dropped from a height of 20 feet.

FM Approvals uses a cannon to launch different-sized ice balls at roofing materials at different speeds. Both impact rating systems impart a grade of 1 to 4 depending on how the material stood up before cracking or splitting.

Roofing materials with a class 4 rating are the most impact resistant roofing materials available.

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, impact resistant roofing materials are typically labeled on the underside of the shingle. These materials have been certified to pass the UL Standard 2218, and will include this label and an impact resistant classification of 1, 2, 3 or 4 as it relates to the UL Standard. Alternatively, they will have the FM 4473 label and the same classification number.

What are Class 4 Impact Resistant Shingles?

Hail can strike anywhere. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Severe Storm database, there were more than 3,700 hailstorms in the U.S. in 2021. Installing class 4 impact resistant shingles – the highest impact rating available – on your home can help you avoid having to file an insurance claim following a major storm event.

There are two types of hail resistant asphalt roofing shingles:

  • SBS. A rubber-like polymer (styrene-butadiene-styrene) is added to the shingle during the manufacturing process. This rubber additive makes these shingles more flexible and better able to withstand impacts from hail.
  • Polymer-mesh. A polymer-based mesh material is embedded into the asphalt shingle during production to help keep it from splitting or cracking when impacted.

During UL 2218 or FM 4473 impact testing, materials are subject to impacts that mimic an incoming hail stone. Standard roofing materials will likely rupture or crack after impact, while impact resistant roofing products will show no evidence of tearing or rupturing after an impact.

Best Types of Impact Resistant Roofing Materials

Based on the rating systems above, there are a few different roof types that you can count on as the best impact resistant roof materials.

Composite Plastic and Asphalt Shingles

Composite and asphalt shingles are the most common types of impact resistant roofing materials in use. These shingles are modified with a rubberized polymer (styrene-butadiene-styrene) that adds greater durability through less cracking and granular loss when the shingle is hit by an object, such as hailstones or windborne debris.

Asphalt shingles tend to have a UL 2218 Class 3 and Class 4 rating, which makes it a good material for storm prone regions.

Clay Tile and Slate Tiles

Clay tiles and slate tiles also can be manufactured for greater durability impact resistance. Standard 1/4-inch thick slate roofing typically meets the class 3 impact resistant standard and can survive impact from a 1-¾-inch ice ball fired from a cannon at 69 miles per hour with no visible signs of damage. Thicker ⅜-inch slates, meanwhile, typically meet the class 4 impact resistance rating, since they can survive impact from a 2-inch ice ball fired at 76 mph.

Additionally, both clay and slate roofs have long lifespans – lasting 100 years or more when well-maintained – which makes this investment well worth it.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are known for their long lifespan and superior weather resistance. Most types of metal roofs have a UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance rating, which makes them highly resistant to hail and windstorms. Many types of standing seam metal roofing, as well as concrete roofing tiles, also meet the class 4 impact resistance standard.

How Much Do Impact Resistant Shingles Cost?

Hail resistant roof materials like composite and asphalt shingles are manufactured with additional materials to make them stronger and more flexible than standard shingles. Naturally, homeowners pay a premium for this increased durability.

energy efficient roof

The cost for impact resistant roofing can vary by region, specific roofing material, and by local roofing contractor pricing. You can expect to pay anywhere between $7,000 for more affordable materials like asphalt, to as much as $80,000 for a new high quality, impact resistant metal roof. There is a premium of about 20 percent in materials, and labor rates are roughly the same as installing standard three-tab asphalt shingles.

Costs will also be on the higher end for slate and clay tiles. These premium roofing materials are always much more expensive than standard shingles. Thicker class 4 rated tiles or slates will be heavier and slightly more difficult to install than standard products. Expect to pay between $700 and $1,400 per square for these impact resistant roofing materials, which is a 10-foot x 10-foot section (100 square feet) of roof. For a standard 3,000 square foot roof, this would be about $21,000 to $43,000.

Insurance and Rebates

Insurance claims are very common in hailstorm-prone areas, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Combined, the five states accounted for 1,593 documented hailstorms in 2021, or about 42 percent of all U.S. hailstorms for the year.

In some states, your homeowners insurance provider may issue a rebate on your insurance premium if you replace your roof with class 4 impact resistant roofing.  Documentation requirements vary by company, but you’ll likely have to fill out a form certifying installation of class 4 impact resistant roofing products that states the name, brand and manufacture date of the product, installation company, date installed, and UL or FM Approvals classification number.

In most states, damage from a hailstorm is covered under your homeowners insurance policy. Your insurer may have a special deductible or limits on payouts from hail damage. According to State Farm, the insurer paid more than $2 billion in residential hail damage claims in 2021, with average homeowners claims totaling around $12,000. If you do have to file a claim after a storm, contact your insurance agent to find the best way to move your claim forward. Get some photos to document the extent of the damage. Do not start the repair process before submitting a claim to your insurer. An adjuster likely will visit your home to assess the damage as well.

Lastly, homeowners may qualify for an Energy Star tax reduction of 10 percent up to $500 for metal or asphalt shingles that have pigments or coatings that reduce heat gain.

Are Impact Resistant Shingles Worth the Investment?

It’s easy to make a case for impact resistant shingles if you live in Hail Alley or anywhere in the U.S. that experiences frequent hail storms or extreme wind events.

Although class 4 impact resistant shingles cost more than standard asphalt shingles, the price you pay upfront could be returned through lower annual homeowners insurance premiums. You also may not have to file a claim following a hail event – remember that you’ll always have to pay a deductible if you submit an insurance claim for hail damage.

Additional benefits of class 4 impact resistant shingles include increased durability, longevity, better wind resistance, and less environmental impact from having to replace your roof. Contact a licensed roofing contractor in your area to learn more about the benefits of impact resistant roofing and to get a quote on your new hail resistant roof.