Strength and Durability by Design
Impact-resistant shingles are usually engineered in two ways:
- A reinforcing, polymer-based mesh is added to the back of a standard asphalt shingle. This mesh is embedded into the asphalt and helps holds the shingle together, preventing the shingle from splitting when impacted by a hailstone or other object.
- Rubber-like polymers, such as SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene), are added to the asphalt composition. The integration of the SBS polymer blend with the asphalt produces a rubberizing effect, creating a shingle that is more flexible and more capable of recovering from hail impact.
How Do Roofing Shingles Qualify for a Class 4 Rating?
Back in the mid-1990s, after a series of catastrophic hail storms across the U.S., the roofing industry developed a test to evaluate their products’ resistance to impact. This standardized test is known as the Underwriters Laboratory 2218 (UL 2218), and is also nicknamed “the steel ball test.” Based on the results of this test, UL assigns one of four ratings to a shingle, with Class 4 being the highest possible rating.
During this testing method, a steel ball is dropped from a specified height onto an installed roofing shingle several times. The shingle is then turned over and inspected for any breaks or cracks that could potentially allow water to leak through.
To receive a Class 4 rating, a roofing shingle must withstand having a 2-inch steel ball dropped multiple times from a height of 20 feet. For more perspective, if this same test is repeated on a 4-inch concrete paver, the force of the steel ball would crack the paver in half.
While Class 4 is the highest rating for impact resistance, there are also lower ratings a shingle can receive, such as Class 3 and Class 2. The difference between the ratings is that Class 3 shingles withstand a smaller steel ball dropped from a lower height, and likewise for Class 2.
Are Class 4 Roofing Shingles More Wind Resistant?
Class 4 roofing shingles do not necessarily feature a higher wind resistance. Wind ratings are a separate classification. People often talk about Class 4 roofing shingles and wind resistance together because high winds may cause debris to go airborne, impacting roofs and causing damage.
When Are Class 4, Impact-Resistant Roofing Shingles the Right Choice?
Every year, thousands of homeowners across the country suffer costly damage to their roofs during hailstorms and other extreme weather events. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Severe Storms database, 4,610 major hail events occurred in the U.S. in 2018, and these storms caused billions of dollars in damage. One insurer alone, State Farm, reported paying out more than $2.7 billion in claims related to wind and hail damage in 2018.
There are certain parts of the U.S. that are more hail-prone than others. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the five worst states for major hail events in 2018 were:
- Texas, with 508 hail storms
- Kansas, with 493 hail storms
- Colorado, with 332 hail storms
- Nebraska, with 309 hail storms
- South Dakota, with 309 hail storms
If you live in Colorado Springs, which is a hail-prone region of the country where frequent severe weather events put your roof at higher risk for damage, then you may want to seriously consider installing Class 4 roofing shingles.
Benefits of Installing Class 4 Roofing Shingles
Class 4 roofing shingles are considered to be a premium product and, therefore, may cost more than standard, non-impact resistant shingles. However, due to the various benefits of Class 4, impact-resistant shingles, the extra cost upfront may be a worthwhile investment if you live in an area where hail and wind storms frequently occur.
Class 4, impact-resistant shingles may:
- Eliminate the need for, or reduce the frequency of, roof repairs. With shingles this tough, you can relax a bit more knowing you have given your roof its best chance at holding up against the storms. Less damage means fewer unexpected repair expenses.
- Extend the lifespan of your roof. Your shingles are your roof’s first line of defense. A roof with intact, undamaged shingles is better protected season after season.
- Save you money on homeowner’s insurance and premiums. Many companies offer discounts for homeowners whose roofs are covered in Class 4-rated shingles. Contact your insurance provider to learn more.
- Prevent your insurance premiums and deductibles from increasing at renewal time. Due to increasing costs of covering hail prone homes, some insurance providers are passing those costs onto homeowners. Having Class 4, impact-resistant shingles installed may help you keep your existing rates and avoid future rate hikes. Contact your insurance provider to learn more.