By Brian WojcickiPosted February 12, 2017 11:18:06The American asphalt shingle has been around since 1875.
Today, its estimated that over 20 million Americans live in urban areas, making it the most commonly used building material in the U.S.
With a new boom in demand and a growing number of urban areas looking to embrace the new asphalt, it seems only a matter of time before American asphalt will change too.
“There is an increasing demand for high-quality asphalt, and the growth of the American asphalt industry is just one example of this,” says Bill Ruhlman, a transportation and infrastructure consultant and professor at the University of Houston’s School of Public Affairs.
“The asphalt industry will never be the same,” says Ruhnman, who specializes in the economics of infrastructure.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of opportunities for asphalt, both in the form of construction materials, and in the manufacturing of asphalt, which is why it’s really critical that the new demand is met,” Ruhman says.
In the past, the cost of American asphalt came at a high price, but the industry has seen an uptick in demand in recent years.
In 2011, there were more than 8.5 million Americans using American asphalt in their homes, and that number has continued to rise in recent months.
“We’re seeing a lot more demand for American asphalt and more people are starting to pay for it, and we’re seeing that a lot,” says Michael C. Bohn, vice president of product management at American asphalt.
“The industry is looking for new opportunities to develop, expand and expand their business.”
The growing demand for new products has pushed up prices.
“In the next few years, American asphalt is going to start to look a lot different than it did in the last 20 years, and it’s going to take some time for consumers to get used to it,” says Bohn.
In many cases, the increase in demand has been driven by consumers wanting to save money, like homeowners looking for a more flexible way to install their roofs and home insulation.
But the demand for the new materials is also driven by increased demand for infrastructure projects.
The industry has been growing in the US for decades, with over 50 percent of all construction of concrete in the United States happening in the past decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And with the demand growing, new companies are looking to capitalize on the demand.
The growth of construction in the suburbs and cities has made the cost even more prohibitive for homeowners.
“When I bought my house, I thought it would cost $10,000, and when I sold it, it cost $50,000,” says Stephanie S. Smith, a sales representative at AIA in Dallas.
“It’s just been so expensive to buy a home, and to sell a house.
You have to save more money to buy and sell.”
For some people, that’s a problem.
“You can’t save $50k, so you’re basically paying a million dollars,” says Smith.
But Smith says that’s just the beginning of the price increase for American residential projects.
“If we don’t address the problem of rising prices, I think we’ll see a lot less of this as the years go on,” she says.
The construction industry is also facing growing competition from other industries, like transportation, as new technologies and services such as autonomous vehicles continue to take off.
While the costs of the new building materials have skyrocketed, the overall growth of demand for asphalt in the country is still relatively low, according the US Department of Transportation.
The demand for construction in America is still growing at a moderate pace, according Bohn: “We’re probably going to continue to see a relatively flat demand in the next decade or so.”
“While there is a significant demand for building materials, the demand is not enough to keep up with demand, so we’ll likely see more growth in the number of applications and in total installations of asphalt,” he says.
“It’s a bit of a Catch-22,” he adds.
“Because the industry is growing at such a high rate, the growth in demand is still fairly slow,” Rühlman says, but there are ways to keep the industry growing.
Ruhnhaml says that as demand continues to increase, he expects the price of asphalt will likely continue to rise.
“As the demand grows, we’ll be seeing an increase in the price,” he said.
“And that’s not a bad thing.”
Follow Brian Wajcickli on Twitter at @brianwajcic.
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