What to Know About Materials Shortages in the Roofing Industry

John Maxwell | June 11, 2022

roofing materials displayed at an artistic angle.

A perfect storm of supply chain issues has spurred unprecedented shortages in roofing as well as the construction industry at large. These problems are widespread, affecting countries across the world and almost every type of construction material. As a result of materials shortages in the roofing industry, many construction companies are unable to deliver their usual level of service. Materials have become more expensive and are taking longer to produce. The delays are also highly unpredictable, leaving companies unsure of when they will be able to complete a job or how much it will cost. 

Here we will explain what is happening and why roofers around the world over are struggling to perform their work as usual.

Supply and Demand Issues

Shortages in steel, lumber, and chemicals used in construction are driving up costs. Steel and lumber shortages first began to appear in 2018 as a result of tariffs on imports from China and Canada. This created a backlog of producers in need of materials before the pandemic even hit. Then, in 2020 when COVID-19 appeared on the scene many manufacturers and other providers of raw materials (like sawmills, steel manufacturers, and chemical plants) drew down their production due to uncertainty. Some of these businesses closed for good, and those that have reopened have not been able to secure the raw materials they need to quickly ramp up production to meet their increasing backlog of orders. 

These shortages in roofing material are overlapping with a huge surge in demand for homes and other buildings following the pandemic. There is an increased demand for homes spurred by people moving during the pandemic, and many projects delayed in 2020 are now getting underway.

Panic buying by contractors unable to secure construction materials has also inflated demand and compounded delays. Many construction companies are double ordering materials in hopes of securing them sooner and instead are creating confusion with manufacturers. 

Transportation Issues Are Causing Delays

The pandemic contributed to a slowdown in global shipping, which has contributed to a shortage of shipping containers in the U.S. This has slowed trucking and transportation in rail, making the delivery of roofing materials much less reliable than in the past. Even when a company does manage to secure materials for construction, they are often delayed or rerouted.

Before the pandemic, the delivery of materials from Asia used to take about seven weeks and was very reliable. Those same shipments are now taking 24 weeks if the materials can be secured at all.

Gulf Storms Have Slowed Production and Disrupted Transportation

Ice storms, hurricanes, and even a fatefully placed lightning strike have all conspired together to disrupt petrochemical production in Louisiana. The state is a global hub for these materials, which are used in nearly every type of roofing system. Storms halted chemical production at some facilities, leading to skyrocketing prices and shortages. Major hurricanes, like Ida, also disrupted shipping and rail transportation of other materials. 

Roofing Companies Are Struggling to Ensure Normal Service

All of these global issues are making it difficult for roofing companies to follow their normal processes for price and delivery estimates. Delivery dates on materials are no longer guaranteed, so roofers can’t estimate when they can get the job done. Since prices continue to skyrocket, roofers have been unable to accurately estimate the cost of jobs that will occur later in the year. 

We’re Here for You

Despite the materials shortages in the roofing industry, Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. continues to work with customers to deliver the best roofing experience possible. If you’re ready to get started, contact Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. today! Our team is experienced and ready to help

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