Synthetic Roof Underlayment: Faster, Safer Construction–and Durability, Too

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“Besides improving the quality of the roof, synthetic roof underlayment also gave us a reliable six-month temporary roof to keep working, even during the winter.”

— Jobe Leonard


“Synthetic roof underlayment is an upgrade we offer on all of our homes,” says Jobe Leonard, a Hearthstone Homes project manager. “We came across the technology while doing reconstruction work in Panama City. Due to the hurricanes and high winds, we needed something that wasn’t going to blow off, and we picked up some of Grace Construction’s synthetic underlayment, called Tri-Flex, at Home Depot. We liked it so much that we used it on another roof. . . and then another. Then we decided we needed to get in touch with the manufacturer and start offering it on all of our homes.”

[IMAGE: Hearthstone Homes recommended synthetic roof underlayment for this 4,951-square-foot home in Arvada, Colorado, for better performance in snow and ice.] “We offered our client the synthetic roof underlayment because of the snow and ice in northern Colorado. We knew the roof would require something better than 30-pound felt. In this case, the underlayment also gave the home more protection during the early phases of construction in April.”


“The challenge when it comes to synthetic roof underlayment is cost. This is how we’ve approached it. When we offer upgrades, we don’t charge people a percentage. With the roofing material, it costs about $5 per 100 feet of 30-pound felt and $14.50 for 100 feet of the Tri-Flex. Based on the more common percentage system that other homebuilders use–set at 10 percent–customers pay a $0.50 markup on the felt and a $1.45 markup on the upgrade. That makes the upgrade that much more expensive, even though there are no other real additional costs.”

“We encourage our customers to use the best products possible by charging a flat rate based on the square footage. No matter what type of roof underlayment you use–felt or synthetic–we charge the same flat rate on all of it. We charge for just the cost of the product and not a higher markup on top of that. That way, we get to put better materials into our homes, and in turn end up with a higher quality finished result.”

“We began offering the underlayment in fall 2005, and of the roughly 300 homes we build each year, about 5 percent use it,” Leonard says. “That’s still not a lot, but we’re hoping that as our project managers understand the benefits better, they will be able to help our customers understand them better, too.”

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