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Understanding Asphalt Shingle Warranties in Philadelphia

Most roofs fails because of the way it was installed. That is why, whenever possible, Universal Contracting offers a roof or section of roof that can be fully warranted from the shingle manufacturer that includes our workmanship.  Very few roofers offer this type of warranty.  Asphalt shingle warranties can be very difficult to understand for the average property owner and even for the average roofer.  Here are some of the warranty terms from the major manufacturers that need to be addressed when trying to compare installers and their proposals:

Material Proration

The highest certification level for installers allows the installer to offer a non-prorated length of time for the full replacement value of the shingles if they are found to be defective. This warranty is offered by the shingle manufacturer from the date of installation. For example, on a 30 year shingle, the non-prorated amount would be 20 years and on a lifetime shingle the non-prorated amount would be 50 years. This is only available if the installer is certified and installs the roof according to the shingle manufacturer’s specifications.

Material Warranty

Major shingle manufacturers offer some type of warranty on the materials to be free of manufacturing defects for a certain length of time. For the average roofer’s installation, this shingle warranty is for a pro-rated amount beginning at the time of purchase. For example, a 30 year shingle, the replacement value goes down every year until a point that the replacement value is zero. Remember, this is for defective materials. The normal weathering of a shingle is not covered under a warranty.  A 30 year shingle will only last 20-25 years and this is considered normal wear.


This is one of the most difficult warranty terms to understand. In warranty terms, labor means the labor costs to remove and reinstall defective materials. This does not include the original installation. If there are leaks due to original installation errors, “labor” does not cover this problem. Most roofers, knowingly or not, are providing a “labor and material” warranty. This type of warranty does not cover their installation.


This is the most important warranty term to understand as a property owner. “Workmanship” is the original installation of the roofing materials. With a workmanship warranty from the shingle manufacturer, you know that you are covered for any manufacturing defects on the shingles or any installation errors for at least 20 years. This is true “piece of mind”.

Roofer’s Warranties

A warranty directly from a roofer is a risk.  Many roofers go out of business so the homeowner is relying on the roofer to stay in business.  Since that is not usually the case the safest choice is to get a warranty from the shingle manufacturer that covers the installer’s workmanship. That way, if the roofer goes out of business or is not responsive, the property owner still has full coverage and the shingle manufacturer will pay for the repair.

“30 Year Roof”

Most shingle manufacturer warranty the shingles to be free of defects for 30 years. This does not mean that the shingles will last 30 years or that the installation will last 30 years. It just means that they are guaranteed to free of defects. In most cases, the roofer is not offering any type of installation warranty or non-proration period.

In conclusion, the safest choice for the property owner is to choose an installer and a material manufacturer that has a warranty that covers workmanship. Then, the property owner has a warranty that covers any issues whether it is an installation error or a manufacturer’s defect. That means there is no “out of pocket expenses” for at least 20 years. This is also a transferable warranty to the next property owner.