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Exploring the Three Types of Roof Warranties

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Whether you’re shopping for a cell phone, a car, or a new kitchen gadget, there is peace of mind when you see an included product warranty. A new roof shouldn’t be any different. 

Since a roof is a big investment, you want to make sure you choose a good warranty to accompany a high-quality repair or replacement. The right warranty can greatly improve your roof’s long-term performance by providing protection against installation errors, defective materials, and more. Although it may seem as though there’s a wide range of warranties, there are really just three main types:

  1. A workmanship warranty that covers installation errors
  2. A manufacturer’s warranty that covers the roofing materials you purchase
  3. An extended manufacturer’s warranty that offers expanded coverage for said materials

In our 30+ years of roofing experience, one of the most common concerns we’ve gotten from our homeowners is not knowing enough about their warranty options to choose the right coverage for their homes. Because of this, we always give our customers a thorough rundown of their warranty options. Now, we want to share that information with you.

Let’s take a closer look at the coverage provided by each type of warranty and explain what it means in practical terms.

The Three Types of Roof Warranties

1. Contractor Workmanship Warranty

If you want your roof to last, it needs to be properly installed. Without proper installation, a roof could fail within as little as two years. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your contractor offers a workmanship warranty.

This type of warranty provides homeowners with coverage against contractor installation errors. If your roof fails because of improper installation, the company that issued the workmanship warranty will cover the cost of labor and any materials needed to make necessary repairs. Here are some of the most common installation errors typically covered by workmanship warranties:

  • Using too few or too many nails, or driving nails too far in during shingle fastening.
  • Not using enough flashing on the roof valleys, eaves, rakes, and penetrations.
  • Installing the roof at temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Failing to properly install the underlayment.
  • Failing to install starter shingles.

The length of a workmanship warranty depends on the contractor. Lengths can range anywhere between 2 to 25 years. However, some companies offer lifetime warranties. While a longer coverage period is better, a good workmanship warranty should protect you against material failures that occur because of installation errors regardless of the coverage term. If a contractor only offers a one-year warranty on a roof replacement, be cautious of working with them.

nail popping out of roofing shingles

It’s also important to note that your contractor may only cover repairs up to a certain amount. While you may want your warranty to cover your whole roof, coverage options range from contractor to contractor. To get the most coverage, compare estimates from different roofers to see which one offers the widest warranty coverage.

As you collect estimates, it can be difficult to keep them straight. To get a clear understanding of a contractor’s warranty coverage, you can:

  • Request a written explanation of what’s covered and what’s not. If the contractor can’t provide this copy, you may want to look elsewhere.
  • Ask whether the warranty covers workmanship, materials, or both. In most cases, a contractor’s warranty will only cover workmanship.
  • Research the credibility of a warranty by looking into the contractor’s history and track record.

While being offered a long-lasting, full-coverage warranty is a great sign that you’re working with a high-quality roofing company, there are other factors to consider. Read this article to learn five questions you can ask to find the best roofing contractor for your project.

2. Standard Manufacturer's Warranty

Most roofing shingles come with a basic limited lifetime warranty from their manufacturer, which is the industry standard. In most cases, a lifetime warranty means you’re covered as long as you own your home.

A standard manufacturer’s warranty covers the cost of replacing defective shingles for the first few years and then offers prorated coverage from that point on. If any shingles are found to be defective during the initial period, the manufacturer will give you replacement shingles at no extra cost. 

defective asphalt shingles losing their granules

While standard manufacturer warranties typically cover labor costs for installation, they usually don’t cover workmanship charges to remove and dispose of failed shingles. For that, you would have to upgrade to an enhanced manufacturer’s warranty. While these vary based on the manufacturer, they often cover the full replacement value as well as workmanship for a period of time.

Industry-wide, a standard manufacturer’s warranty only provides coverage against factory defects. It doesn’t cover shingle failure due to improper installation or issues with other installation components like ice and water shield, underlayment, flashing, or box vents. However, manufacturers may cover these components with their own separate warranties.

3. Extended Manufacturer's Warranty

Most roofing materials come with a manufacturer’s warranty that’s pretty standard industry-wide. However, the warranty you really want is an extended manufacturer’s warranty.

With this warranty, the manufacturer will pay to replace your entire roof if just one of their components fails. It’s also designed to give you comprehensive repair coverage for a longer period of time than with a standard manufacturer’s warranty. 

breakdown of a complete GAF roofing system

To qualify for an extended warranty, all of your roofing materials have to come from the same manufacturer. Your roof also has to be installed by a certified contractor with a proven track record of installing a roofing system according to the manufacturer’s installation requirements.

Warranty benefits differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some may offer just one extended warranty plan, while big-name manufacturers like GAF and CertainTeed may offer two, three, or more. Here are some common benefits you might see with an extended warranty offer:

  • Long-lasting coverage for defective materials: Extended warranties may provide coverage for repairs or replacements of defective materials for up to 50 years.

  • Coverage for all roof system components: Excluding flashing, wood decking, and fasteners.

  • Coverage against workmanship installation errors: Certain manufacturers may provide coverage for workmanship errors with a prorated period that includes labor, tear-off, and disposal costs. However, this doesn’t come with every extended warranty.

Four Steps to Protect your Warranty

The last thing any homeowner wants is to submit a claim only to find that their roof replacement warranty is null and void. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens when people assume they are covered with their warranties.

To protect your coverage, follow these four steps:

  1. Get Regular Inspections: Inspecting the roof every one or two years allows your contractor to spot and fix any minor issues with vents, flashing, shingle damage, caulking deterioration, and more. When you stay ahead of repairs and prevent major work in the future, you maintain your warranty coverage.

  2. Stay with Your Original Contractor: Most contracts include language that voids the contractor’s warranty when a separate company is hired to alter the original installation. Continuity helps original installers correct their own mistakes. Keeping a good contractor as a lifelong roofing partner will protect your investment and maintain warranty coverage.

  3. Register Your Warranty: Don’t forget to submit your warranty registration to the manufacturer. Without it, you may not have coverage at all. The process is different for enhanced warranties, though. First, the contractor installing the product must be credentialed to install and provide the warranty. Then, the contractor must register the warranty on behalf of the customer. This type of upgraded coverage requires more than just a mail-in registration.

  4. Read the Fine Print: Your contractor must be certified through the shingle manufacturer and be authorized to provide the specified warranty. Without that authorization, your warranty will be voided. Ensure you understand the exact level of certification for your warranty as well. The highest certifications enable contractors to offer enhanced warranties and increase the likelihood of protection and retaining coverage.

Your roof exists to protect your family and your possessions. As your roof protects your home, you must protect the warranty. These steps will keep you from being surprised by a voided warranty when you submit a claim.

How Can You Get the Best Warranty?

Now that we’ve gone over the three types of warranties, you should feel more confident in your ability to choose the right one for your roof and home. However, in order to secure a great warranty, you need to work with a high-quality roofing contractor.

You can only get an extended warranty if your roof is installed by a certified contractor who has a good, long-standing relationship with the manufacturer of your roofing materials. Because of their time in the business and history of doing quality work, experienced contractors are more likely to have these relationships, so they can get you the best warranties.

If you live in Raleigh and need a certified contractor, consider us! On Tops Roofing is both a GAF and CertainTeed Preferred Contractor. This means that we’re in the very top tier of these manufacturers' exclusive network due to our high standards of professionalism, consistency, reliability, and workmanship. 

This elite status allows us to offer our customers an extended warranty upgrade for their new roof. Even in the unlikely event that On Tops goes out of business, your roof will be fully covered. If you want a free estimate or to learn more about our warranty options, don’t hesitate to fill out the form below. We’d be happy to help. 

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