Metal Roofing Weathertight Warranties: Uses, Types, & Definitions

Having a weathertight warranty for the metal roof or wall system on a commercial, architectural, or structural structure is the best way to protect the property owner’s investment and ensure the system is installed correctly.

How would you feel if you spent thousands of dollars on a new, long-lasting metal roof and it started leaking just a few years after the installation?

You probably wouldn’t be happy, right?

Whether you’re a commercial property owner, a commercial roofing contractor, or beyond, one thing is for sure: You want to go to extreme lengths to protect your investment. That’s why weathertight warranties exist and why it’s so important to purchase them for commercial metal roofing projects.

So, what exactly is a weathertight warranty?

At Sheffield Metals, one of our main priorities is ensuring the roofs installed using Sheffield Metals sheet and coil are structurally sound and last as long as the property owner expects it to. That’s why we’ve expanded our weathertight warranty offerings and continue to recommend them whenever possible.

In this article, expect to learn:

What Is a Weathertight Warranty?

Metal Roofing Weathertight Warranties: Uses, Types, & Definitions: Main

A weathertight warranty is a guarantee from the installer and roofing manufacturer that the roof installed on a commercial structure will remain weathertight for the duration of the warranty. First and foremost, weathertight warranties protect the investment made by the property owner for the roof or wall system. This type of warranty says that if a leak develops in the roofing system due to defects in the material provided, manufacturing defects, ordinary wear/tear by the elements, or the installation contractor’s workmanship, then the manufacturer or installer is financially responsible for all repairs needed to return the roof to a weathertight condition.

These warranties also assure the property owner that the metal roof system is installed to the proven standards and details specified and approved by the metal roof manufacturer.

Weathertight warranties are standard in the metal construction industry, especially in spec-driven or architecturally designed projects. These warranties are also known throughout the industry as weathertightness warranties or water-tight warranties. In addition to roofing systems, weathertight warranties can be purchased for metal wall systems as well.

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Weathertight Warranty Options at Sheffield Metals

We take our weathertight warranty process seriously at Sheffield Metals, which is why we have an entire Technical Department dedicated to approving, inspecting, and issuing weathertight warranties on projects when required. In addition to putting in the work to ensure the products we offer are designed to perform to high standards, we practice better quality assurance than most manufacturers out there by requiring more inspections to verify the panel system is installed correctly. We work closely with our installation contractors and view the installation process as a way contractors can learn and be assured that they are doing everyone by the book. Plus, our warranties are less transactional than most metal roof manufacturers.

Sheffield Metals offers two different types of weathertight warranties: Limited and No Dollar Limit.

Limited Weathertight Warranties

What it is: Limited Weathertight Warranty covers repairs up to the dollar amount paid for the cost of the metal roof materials and installation. For example, if the original roof costs $30,000 for both the materials and the installation, SMI would cover up to $30,000 worth of repairs through the specified timeframe. This is not limited or capped by a single issue if multiple events occur in the duration of the warranty.

Year lengths available: 5-year, 10-year, 15-year, 20-year, 25-year, 30-year, and 35-year options.

No Dollar Limit Weathertight Warranties

What it is: No Dollar Limit Weathertight Warranties do not come with a dollar limit on liability. If the repairs for an affected roof or wall exceed that of the cost of the materials and installation, then it will still be covered. For example, if the original material and installation cost was $30,000 and it costs $36,000 to fix or replace the roof, the full $36,000 cost will be covered by the manufacturer/installer.  This is not limited or capped by a single issue, should multiple events occur in the duration of the warranty.

Year lengths available: 10-year, 15-year, 20-year, 25-year, 30-year, and 35-year options.

Notes to Remember

  • A No Dollar Limit Weathertight Warranty is more the expensive option when compared to a Limited Weathertight Warranty. We’ll be discussing warranty prices in a future article.
  • The same approval process is conducted no matter the warranty length. The only difference is the amount of onsite inspections that might take place.

Other Weathertight Warranty Options in the Industry

Beyond weathertight warranties for the entire roofing system, there are a couple of different options that exist throughout the industry, including:        

  • Side Lap – A side lap warranty covers the panel seams and not the flashing zones. These warranties tend to instill some false confidence for property owners. You can ask for it, but it would also be good to ask for a workmanship warranty or something similar, because, in general, most leaks occur in flashing zones more frequently than they do in the field or seam of a standing seam metal roofing system.
  • Level-type warranties – Some warranties have varying levels of coverage, whether it’s a variable timeframe or what products and areas are covered. Just make sure to read the warranty being offered to ensure it provides the coverage you want.
  • Pro-rated warranties – With a pro-rated warranty, you may incur some of the costs of repair or replacement. This essentially means that the manufacturer will pay for the part or aspect of the system that failed.

The Importance of a Weathertight Warranty

Metal Roofing Weathertight Warranties: Uses, Types, & Definitions: Importance of Warranty

We can’t stress the importance of purchasing a weathertight warranty enough. It’s no secret that metal is a more expensive roofing choice, which means it’s also going to be more costly to repair if it fails. Spending the extra money on a weathertight warranty to protect that investment is likely going to be worth it in the long-run.

It’s similar to buying a new car. Would you pay $24,000 for a new car without any warranty coverage? What if something were to happen to the car that is beyond your control and you were financially responsible for fixing it?

Most importantly, having that weathertight warranty ensures that what’s on the inside of the property is protected. Whether it’s a school filled with kids, an apartment building housing families, a shopping complex filled with merchandise, or a bank filled with money, the people and items on the inside rely on the protection that a metal roof can provide. That’s why you want to ensure the roof is installed correctly, which is possible through purchasing a weathertight warranty.

Sheffield Metals Weathertight Warranty Coverage

What Is Covered by a Weathertight Warranty?

Should leaks develop in the roofing system due solely to defects in the material provided by Sheffield, manufacturing defects, ordinary wear and tear by the elements, or workmanship on the part of the Installation Contractor, then Sheffield and the installation contractor identified shall be responsible for specified costs* of the repairs necessary to return the roofing system to a water-tight condition. This warranty will be fully satisfied by repair of the roofing system, and any such repairs shall carry a warranty against leaks only for the then remaining balance of the original warranty period.

Key Takeaway: SMI’s weathertight warranties cover:

  1. Flashing zones
  2. Seams, if correctly installed
  3. Roofing leaks within the specific timeframe

* Varies depending on type of warranty.

What IS NOT Covered by a Weathertight Warranty?

Sheffield Metals’ Limited and No Dollar Limit Weathertight Warranties apply to roof systems installed in areas of normal atmospheric exposure and, specifically, does not cover leaks caused in whole or in part by the following:

  1. Marine (salt water) atmosphere or regular spray of either salt or fresh water.
  2. Exposure to or fallout from corrosive chemicals, ash or fumes from any chemical plant, foundry, plating works, kiln, fertilizer manufacturing plant, paper manufacturing plant, or the like. Any harmful or corrosive substance or any condensation contained within, generated, or released from inside the building.
  3. Vent pipe flashing manufactured from rubber-based products.
  4. Any condensation or corrosion which is or was caused at any time, in part or in whole, as a result of:
    1. The use of an inadequate vapor barrier (permeability rating of 0.5 or less with sealed joints and perimeter) when the insulation is installed immediately beneath the roof panels, and/or
    2. Inadequate ventilation of the attic space between a roof panel and insulation when the insulation is put in directly on top of an existing roof.
  5. Worker traffic on the roof, other than traffic during the installation.
  6. Hail, fire, lightning, gale force winds, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or any other act of God.
  7. Alterations such as, but not limited to, the placement of structures, fixtures, or utilities upon or to the roof without prior written authorization from Sheffield.
  8. Repairs performed to the roof and/or materials furnished with regard to such repairs by an entity or entities other than Sheffield or the installation contractor.
  9. Failure by the owner, lessee, or other occupant or user of the building to take reasonable care in maintaining the roof system, such as, but not limited to, failure to clean the gutter, valleys, etc., to allow water to run off without interruption.
  10. Faulty building design or construction.
  11. Birds, vermin, rodents, insects, or other animals/pests.
  12. Settlement, failure, or cracking of the roof deck, walls or foundation of the building, or defects/failures of coping gravel-stop due to cracking of walls or any part of the building structure.
  13. Any other event, occurrence or cause beyond the control of Sheffield and/or the installation contractor.
  14. Failures due to the use of fasteners other than stainless steel and without an adequate barrier, that comes in contact with pressure treated/ACQ treated lumber.”

The Process of Applying for & Obtaining a Weathertight Warranty

One of our next articles will dive deeper into the process of applying for a weathertight warranty, but here is a high-level look at what you can expect:

Step #1: Submit the Weathertight Warranty Submittal Package

Metal Roofing Weathertight Warranties: Uses, Types, & Definitions: Submittal Package

The installation contractor will completely fill out the entire Weathertight Warranties Submittal Package and send back to the Technical Department at Sheffield Metals.

Step #2: Reviewing the Submitted Document Package

After Sheffield’s Technical Department receives the submittal package, it will be reviewed for approval. If approved, a copy of the signed intent to warrant and approved installation details will be returned to the installation contractor. If not approved, which is rare, the intent to warrant will be denied and sent back to the installation contractor.

Step # 3: Meetings and Project Inspections

  • GoToMeeting (GTM) –During the GTM, the approved details will be discussed, and any questions will be answered. This is mandatory and will be required to take place before the project starts. (A GTM is often used instead of pre-panel inspections, unless the project is large.)
  • Pre-panel inspection – A representative from the SMI Technical Department will come out and inspect the dry-in, go over the installation details, and approve product usage.
  • Mid-point inspection – This inspection is to be conducted when the roof is as close to 50% completed as possible and ensures the installation is correct per the agreed upon details.
  • Final inspection – The final inspection is to be conducted after the roof is 100% installed and makes sure everything is installed entirely and per the approved details.

Step #4: Signing of Documents & Fee Payments for Weathertight Warranty

After the project is completed and all requirements have been met, the Technical Department will send the weathertight warranty document to the installation contractor for their and the owners signatures, as well as the invoice for the warranty fee. You will have to make three copies, have the installation contractor and building owner sign all three, and then send back to the Technical Department. This is also when payment should be mailed per the invoice. The quicker option is to have the warranty sent electronically for signatures and then scan and email it. Warranties will not be issued until all invoices are paid

Once the paperwork is received by Sheffield Metals, we will sign off on the electronic copy and email it back or sign off on all three hard copies. We will keep one for our records and the remaining two will be returned to the installation contractor.

Step #5: Ensure All Parties Have Warranty Documents

Once the installation contractor receives the warranty, they will retain one copy for their records and issue one copy to the property owner.

(Note: For more, check out the detailed outline of the weathertight warranty submittal process.)

Factors Affecting a Weathertight Warranty Acquisition

Qualified & Skilled Installers

Metal Roofing Weathertight Warranties: Uses, Types, & Definitions: Skilled Installers

Being a qualified, reputable, and skilled contractor/installer is arguably the most critical consideration when purchasing a weathertight warranty. When looking at warranty submittals, our Technical Department does their research to ensure the contractor has the necessary experience and skills to install the details to the quality a weathertight warranty requires. Here are some qualifications we look for:

  • Previous weathertight warranty installations
  • References who can verify the craftsmanship quality
  • Reputation within the industry
  • That the installers are actual metal roof installation contractors
    • Not shingle, tile, EPDM, or other material installers

Property Type

One of the most notable factors affecting qualification for a weathertight warranty is the type of building. For example, we currently do not offer weathertight warranties on single-family residential projects, as these installations don’t allow enough time for inspections by Sheffield Metals to take place. However, multi-family units such as condos or apartments do qualify.

Use of Manufacturer’s Installation Details & Products

Another factor that will determine if a weathertight warranty is issued revolves around the use of manufacturer’s installation details, which are our tested methods of installing the flashings during a metal roof installation.

In addition to the installation details, there are specific products/accessories that we require installers to use to ensure the system performs to weathertight warranty standards and specified engineering. For example, weathertight warranties require:

  • The minimum use of a synthetic and peel-and-stick underlayment combination installation (Sharkskin Ultra and Ultra SA), but most warranties will require a full peel-and-stick underlayment installation (Sharkskin Ultra SA) for approval.
  • Either Novaflex Metal Roof Sealant or APS 500 sealant use.
  • If a penetration is too large for a pipe boot or is square, a pre-manufactured curb approved by the SMI Technical Department will need to be installed.
  • At Sheffield, we require warranties to be single-sourced from Sheffield. This allows us as the manufacturer to guarantee the use of the specific products that we are the warranty holder for the specified period of time. Any product not supplied by SMI, i.e. insulation, curbs, etc., must be approved prior to installation by the SMI Technical Department.

Environment & Roof Designs

There are specific measures that the roof design must meet to qualify for a weathertight warranty, as not all slopes, flashings, or other variables are conducive to remaining water-tight. Here are some common design elements that are not suitable for a warranty:

  • Slopes that are too low for the panel system submitted for a warranty
  • Strange planes that do not allow for adequate water drainage
  • Internal gutters (we will do these, but they will be excluded from the warranty)
  • Dead valleys
  • Any zones with improper ventilation

During the inspections for a weathertight warranty, our Technical Department may require roof design changes to promote warrantable conditions. Exclusions could apply if such conditions are not met. We understand the inspiration a designer may have with a particular metal roofing system; however, the roofing system function is paramount to aesthetics. We take care with design professionals should there be a conflict with form and function of a metal roof system.

Panel Profiles

Metal Roofing Weathertight Warranties: Uses, Types, & Definitions: Panel Profiles

Not all panel profiles have the qualities needed to meet weathertight warranty requirements, and just because a profile is approved for a warranty doesn’t mean it automatically qualifies for one. That being said, Sheffield Metals has five roofing profiles and one wall profiles that can be used to obtain a weathertight warranty, including:

It is possible for a panel distributor/rollformer to have a different engineered system that could qualify for use in our weathertight warranty program. Please inquire within if this applies to you.

Meeting Engineering Requirements

All of our profiles that qualify for a weathertight warranty are engineered metal roofing systems, and all must be installed per the project engineering requirements. If there are no requirements set, the roof will be installed per UL 90.

Additionally, we require a warrantable substrate for weathertight warranties. If the substrate is warrantable only for a portion of the time specified in the weathertight warranty, we will include exclusions within the warranty documents specific to the failure of the roof due substrate failure prior to the warranted period of time.  This is important to remember if a consumer user wants a G90 substrate or a higher end exotic metal such as copper or stainless steel, which could have limited or no warranty on the metal at all.

Who Can Use or Purchase a Weathertight Warranty?

Who Can Purchase a Weathertight Warranty?

Ultimately, the decision to purchase a weathertight warranty falls in the hands of the property owner. But it’s expected for the contractor to provide the necessary warranty information required for the property owner to make an informed decision.

Who Applies for a Weathertight Warranty?

The weathertight warranty has to be applied for by the contractor who is doing the actual installation. We do not accept warranty applications from panel manufacturers, general contractors, regional distributors, suppliers, or property owners directly.

Can an Architect Use a Weathertight Warranty?

An architect’s job is to stipulate the requirements that are involved in their project, so yes, an architect can and is encouraged to specify a weathertight warranty.

Who Else Could Be Involved in a Weathertight Warranty Situation?

We wanted to take a moment to discuss third parties, such as cable installers, plumbers, HVAC professionals, siding or wall contractors, or otherwise, who might come in contact with a metal roof or wall that has a weathertight warranty. It’s vitally important to contact Sheffield Metals BEFORE ANY WORK BY THESE PARTIES IS PERFORMED, not after, as some of their work could void a warranty. Please let us know before you or any other installer does anything to your warranted roof.

Final Thoughts on Metal Roofing Weathertight Warranties

There are a lot of requirements, considerations, and processes that go into weathertight warranties. And we understand that it might feel a little overwhelming at first.

To help ease some of this, keep these key reminders at the top of your mind:

  • A weathertight warranty is a guarantee from the installer and manufacturer that the roof or wall installed on a commercial structure will prevent leaks and keep the building weathertight.
  • A weathertight warranty is one of the best ways to protect the investment put into a new metal roof or wall system.
  • Make sure you read the weathertight warranty coverage inclusions and exclusions thoroughly and know what may affect whether your structure qualifies for the warranty before you apply.
  • When in doubt, contact the issuer of the weathertight warranty to ask questions or for more information.

At Sheffield Metals, we’ve expanded our experienced and helpful Technical Department to accommodate the growing market of weathertight warranty projects.

To discuss weathertight warranties and how having one might be the best option for you, please contact us today to speak with one of our technical representatives.

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