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Old 10-12-2009, 10:46 AM   #1
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


I'm having the roof on my house replaced and wanted to use synthetic underlayment instead of felt. My roofer said he could get Sharkskin for me but it would be $500 more due to it taking more time to install. I didn't understand because it is easier to handle than felt and it installs with roofing nails (not plastic cap nails). I thought the material might be a little more but he's making it sound like the labor is what really drives up the price. He's obviously not familiar with it so he might be padding the estimate either just because the product is new to him and he thinks it might take more time to become familiar with it or maybe just to influence me not to use it since it's a hassle for him to try a new product. I got probably eight bids on my roof and none included synthetic underlayment as an option at all so I'd imagine I'd have similar experiences trying to get anyone to use it. It was disappointing but I'm going to settle for the standard 30# felt the roofer uses since $500 is just too much to add for the Sharkskin. Does anyone have any experience asking a roofer to switch to a synthetic underlayment? I'm curious if my guy was pulling a quote out of his ass that isn't based on anything concrete other than him not wanting to have to use that product.

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Last edited by chunkylover53; 10-12-2009 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:40 PM   #2
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


My guess is that since it would be new to his crew it would add some training and communication time and even some deployment time because he probably has established process for getting standard materials like felt to the job site. And since he has never used it then it would be wise for him to anticipate unexpected issues so he needs to price in these risks.

Since your having it done I don't think the sharkskin offers any advantage over the felt so no point paying extra for it. If you were doing it yourself and worried you won't get the felt covered in one day then maybe the sharkskin would be worthwhile as it might be less prone to wrinkle if it gets wet and might hold up to wind better.

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Old 10-12-2009, 11:01 PM   #3
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


$500 is not unreasonable at all for the upgrade.
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:21 AM   #4
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


Thanks for the opinions. I think the consensus is it's just an all around fudge factor and not really based on specific time or material calculations. I know initially the roofer said the bid was $500 because it takes longer to install because he would have to use plastic cap nails. Then when I pointed out Sharkskin installs with roofing nails it didn't seem to change anything. He dug in and said it's still $500, take it or leave it. Is there any possible reason the installation of synthetic underlayment would take longer than felt? From what I can see, the installation instructions for Sharkskin are on one page and it's very simple. You roll it out, overlapping by this much on the sides and ends, then nail it every so many inches. I can't imagine it being any easier. I could see if you had to manually hammer in all the fasteners it taking longer, but I don't think you do. I agree it's not worth paying $500 extra but my question is, why would I be charged $500 extra in the first place? It seems like more of a penalty for making the roofer step out of his comfort zone and try a new product.
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Old 10-13-2009, 12:43 PM   #5
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


Haven't heard of Sharkskin, but I've used something called Titanium underlayment. Likely just a different brand of the same thing. It is more expensive than felt but no harder to install. And as an added bonus, it's much easier to walk on as long as it's not wet.
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:55 AM   #6
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


SYNTHETIC UNDERLAYMENTS REQUIRE NO ADDITIONAL LABOR TO INSTALL. THE PRODUCT IS QUITE A BIT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN FELT (TAR PAPER). 15 lb. FELT COSTS THE CONTRACTOR ABOUT $5 PER SQUARE, AND 30lb. FELT RUNS ABOUT $10 PER SQUARE. SHARKSKIN COSTS THE CONTRACTOR ABOUT $12 PER SQUARE. FOR AN AVERAGE 30 SQUARE ROOF THAT ADDS $60 - $210 PLUS TAX.
I USE NOTHING BUT SYNTHETIC UNDERLAYMENT. MY FAVORITE IS TITANIUM UDL30. NEXT IS SHARKSKIN. THEN COMES TIGER PAW. ALL OF THEM ARE EXCELLENT PRODUCTS.
THE HOMEOWNER RECEIVES SEVERAL BENEFITS: A CLASS "A" FIRE RATING INSTEAD OF A PRODUCT WHICH WILL FUEL A FIRE.
A PRODUCT WHICH IS VERY DIFFICULT TO TEAR. IF THE SHINGLES ARE BLOWN OFF, THE SYNTHETIC UNDERLAYMENT WILL BE INTACT AND PREVENT WATER INTRUSION. IF HUGE HAIL HITS, THE SHINGLES MAY BE SMASHED, BUT THE SYNTHETIC UNDERLAYMENT WILL STILL BE ON THE JOB.
SYNTHETICS PROVIDE MUCH STRONGER AND BETTER FOOTING FOR THE ROOFERS. LESS CHANCE OF A FALL.
EVERY BUSINESS MUST EARN A PROFIT TO REMAIN IN BUSINESS. IF I USED 30lb. FELT, ON A 30 SQUARE ROOF, I WOULD INCLUDE $390 IN MY BID. I DO USE SYNTHETIC ON EVERY JOB. ON A 30 SQUARE ROOF I INCLUDE $468 IN MY BID.
DID YOUR GUY SHOW YOU THE PRICE OF 30lb. FELT IN HIS BID AND THEN THE PRICE OF SYNTHETIC?
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:05 AM   #7
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


Yeah, I had my mothers's roof replaced last year and had the same thing happen. Guy wanted to sell me an upgrade to the synthetic underlayment. Upgrade was only about $100 or $200 in my case. He gave me some of the manufacture's literature to explain the benefits. I read it and said to the guy "this keeps saying that its going to save YOU time and money, so why the up-charge ?" He said it was more expensive, and does not save the Roofer time and money. I passed on it. The manufacturer's literature he showed me was geared towards the Roofer, so it didn't do a very good job at selling it to the homeowner.

The guy has the right to charge whatever he wants.
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Old 11-02-2014, 09:28 AM   #8
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


I don't think $500 is unreasonable either. As far as it being more labor, that is utter BS.

Either product will serve you well assuming the roofer is not a hack. No product is hack proof.
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Old 11-02-2014, 12:02 PM   #9
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


5 years ago when this thread started,$500 was more than $500 today![hope he has the roof done by now!]
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:45 AM   #10
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


I find Titanium harder to install than felt. Felt lays straighter, felt doesn't get blown around with a 2mph breeze, felt doesn't curl at the ends making for easier fastening, felt can be cut with ANY blade (it doesn't require a brand new blade). Felt holds a chalk line better than Titanium, and foot traction is 10x better on felt than it is on most Synthetics that I have tried.

The ONLY benefit Synthetics have over felt right now (AFAIC), is it's waterproof whereas felt is only water resistant. But when I tear off a 30 year old 3-tab roof and find #30 felt was the only thing saving the valley
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:02 PM   #11
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Synthetic Underlayment Blues


Do have an ice dam problem? I think that is main reason people use higher quality synthetic. Otherwise regular felt will probably preform the same.

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