How Classy is your roof?: Cutting through the Impact Resistance Chatter

Class 4?… IR?… or IDK?…

If you’ve discussed shingle replacement options you’ve likely heard the terms, ‘Class 4’, ‘Impact Resistant’, ‘IR’, and more. Are you slightly confused?

For our chat today let’s stick with the term IMPACT RESISTANT.

chimney on the roof of the house against the blue sky

Who wouldn’t want a roof that can withstand a strong storm of hail and wind? It would require fewer repairs and last longer. Well the insurance companies really liked the idea too. They liked the idea so much they decided to pass on savings to consumers who installed them. But first, the roof needed a standardized test and rating system. And that’s where UL stepped in to assist.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a not-for-profit independent testing organization that was founded in 1894. They provide the knowledge and expertise to help you and other property owners make informed decisions on products that affect their daily lives. UL developed a test to rate the strength of roofing materials. This test is called the UL 2218 Impact Rating.

The test uses steel balls ranging from 1.25 inches to 2.0 inches in diameter to gauge the Impact Resistance of hail stones. The steel balls are dropped from heights of 12 feet for the 1.25 inch ball to 20 feet for the 2 inch ball. The test roof is struck twice in the same spot for each size steel ball.

So how do materials make the cut?

To meet the acceptance criteria of UL 2218, the roofing material, back surface and underneath layers must show no evidence of tearing, fracturing, cracking, splitting, rupture, crazing or other evidence of opening of the roof covering layer. Based on how the roofing material performs in the test, it will be classed 1 through 4, 4 being the highest of impact ratings.

What should you do?

While you consider roofing material options it is best to consider cost vs. savings. Here are some quick ways to evaluate the upgrade to Class 4;

  1. Contact your insurance carrier and ask about potential premium discounts
  2. Ask your roofing contractor to provide a comparison estimate between your existing roof type and a class 4
  3. Compare the cost of upgrade versus your insurance premium discounts
  4. Make an educated decision

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