Can a roof be installed in the winter?
To give you a simple answer, yes! Most roofs are able to be replaced in the winter time. Talking from the perspective of a roofing company that works in the northeastern United States, snow and freezing temperatures are something that we take into account every year! Overall, it is more about the manufacturer specifications on HOW to install in the colder part of the year.
Something to keep in mind is that not all days from December to March are going to be below freezing. Especially in our area, we see blizzard conditions one day and then 60 degrees the next! Every roofing material is going to have different manufacturer guidelines or recommendations for winter installations.
Each of the following materials can react differently to cold temperatures depending on their structural composition; this will affect their installation guidelines. It is integral that if you are considering a winter installation to have a qualified roofing contractor.
Wood Shake Shingles
TPO or Flat Rubber Roof
Asphalt Shingles will become brittle in colder temperatures (below 45 degrees Fahrenheit). Which is why during installation, there is a lot more care that must be taken in order to ensure that they are applied properly and intact. When the asphalt becomes brittle, the tar strip that binds one shingle to the next will not adhere and cure properly; this leaves your entire roof more vulnerable to damage from high winds and potentially losing the integrity of your brand new roofing system. Once one shingle lifts, like dominoes, the rest will follow.
Being a company that works in colder temperatures frequently, we prefer to use Atlas brand roofing materials because they supply simply the best material you can currently purchase on the market. Along with a few other companies, they have specific guidelines and accessories to make installing in the wintertime possible. They require that at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit dots of rubberized caulking, about the size of a quarter, must be applied horizontally to the shingle for every 6 inches. This extra bit of adhesive is resistant to cold and ensures that until warmer weather comes, your roof replacement doesn’t have to wait!
Wood Shake Shingles are able to be applied in any workable temperature! This material is less vulnerable to cold than other roofing applications and does not require a tar strip. Wood shakes simply need to be nailed in place with stainless steel nails over an underlayment referred to as “Cedar Breather”. This allows for air to move throughout the roof system so that it is properly ventilated.
With TPO and Rubber roofing available, there is opportunity for an easier flat roof application. Now with the new technologies from the leading manufacturer Firestone, most of their rubber roof membranes have a self adhering strip. This eliminates the step of gluing down the entire membrane because it is now built in. These self adhering strips can be used in temperatures as low as 22 degrees Fahrenheit, making them a wonderful advantage when installing flat or rubber roofs in colder climates and seasons.
Clay, Slate, and Metal systems run into a different problem when installation time comes, someone to do it in the cold weather! These applications can be done in any temperature so long as you have the staff to complete the project. The only reason why you wouldn’t be able to install these systems in the winter time is if the weather conditions make it unsafe to do so; a gentle reminder to keep in mind is that your roofing staff are people too!
If you are a homeowner that is considering having their roof replacement done during the winter time, we hope you keep these materials and installation guidelines in mind when selecting your roofing contractor. At the end of the day, no matter the material you intend to use, you want to ensure that it is being installed by a roofer that is qualified and insured; this will only increase the likelihood of your home’s long term success.