Tips for understanding your manufacturer warranty
Warranties may be a given in the metal building process but it’s important to know what you’re getting…as well as what the limitations may be. With that knowledge, you can keep your building’s aesthetic and performance maximized for as long as possible with the least amount of financial risk as viewed from your own vantage point.
While there are a number of different types and levels of warranties, the common denominator is the simple fact that customers want some assurance that the metal building products they purchase for a project are going to perform the way that they expect them to. They’re a promise that you’re getting what you pay for.
Key Points to Keep in Mind
- Although the premise of a warranty seemingly is to protect the buyer, the warranty is actually important for both the buyer and the manufacturer. Manufacturers would rather provide a clear and concise warranty so that the buyer understands fully what they’re getting rather than having the buyer mistakenly believe that certain guarantees are there when they’re not. From the manufacturers’ perspective, it is preferable to have educated consumers look at a clear list of what the warranty includes rather than make vague implications. Ultimately, it is the installed performance that will provide the confidence desired, and it is in no one’s interest for the warranty to be viewed as a miracle cure for any inevitability.
- The big-picture categories of weather tight warranties are standard and single source. A standard warranty often covers a two-year period by the erector before the manufacturer is left to manage, and generally says that the product itself has its own ability to be weathertight, but it relies a lot more on the installer. With single source, it is the manufacturer that is going to uphold the promise to cause the roof to be weathertight, without the installer liability. In other words, should that installer go out of business or become insolvent, then the manufacturer is going to make sure they provide labor and materials to correct any issue so that the buyer doesn’t have to rely on just the contractor to uphold that warranty for 20 or 25 years. Additionally, for the more risk adverse buyers, a single source warranty makes sense since there will be ongoing inspection upfront, providing the opportunity to look at the potential of some damages that could occur by unrecognized issues.
- Certain common claims are generally excluded from any warranties, including differential weathering, red rusting, Galvalume flaking, crazing, excessive fade, etc. While you won’t be able to buy a warranty against rusting, per se, proper care and installation of the metal panels will generally mitigate those types of issues. But, if, for instance, the installer uses the wrong tools, it could leave the building more vulnerable to rust.
- The most common misconceptions relate to roof leaks/weathertightness and paint. Customers often believe that if after 20 years a metal roof develops a leak, it will automatically be covered. In fact, though, roof leaks would be covered by a special warranty outside of the material defects or workmanship or finish warranty. Further, there is a misconception that a paint warranty IS a warranty against roof leaks. This is not the case. A paint warranty covers the paint performance, as far as chalk, fade or film integrity. One way to look at it is to acknowledge a key differentiation between these types; a weathertight warranty (against roof leaks) relates to a process as opposed to warranties issued on the merits of the product alone.
- Rely on a reputable manufacturer. Whether you have a warranty or not, the product will still perform the same, but obviously, a warranty gives you the confidence of a written promise from the manufacturer on the off-chance something doesn’t perform correctly.
Given the experience a reputable manufacturer brings, warranties at all levels have generally combined most everything that they feel are already inherent in the strengths in their product, such as adherence to ASTM testing, longevity, corrosion protection, etc. The warranty “promise” is really based on the strength of the company that you’re buying it from.