Must-Know Tips For Installing Shingles In Cold Weather

Can You Replace A Roof In The Winter?

Experts say the best time to construct a roof is when weather is “warm, calm, and dry.” That is, in warm temperatures, with little wind and clear skies. In a perfect world, that would be every day. But in most northern states and provinces, these ideal conditions are few and far between. Most roofers have to consider how, not if, they can perform a roofing job in winter weather. Any outdoor temperature lower than 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) starts to change the way both our bodies, and our roofing equipment and materials perform. This is the point at which risks continue to rise as the mercury falls.

In cold weather, roofers face a variety of extra considerations:

  • They must increase health and safety precautions,

  • Roofing materials don’t work quite as well as they do in moderate temperatures, and

  • Workers risk delivering a subpar job if they don’t give themselves enough time to do the job right while working against the demands of Old Man Winter.

However, while not ideal, roof construction and repair can be done in cold weather, as long as weather-related precautions are strictly observed.


The Benefits of Roofing in Cold Weather

In fact, the benefits can be considerable to a roofer or employer who wants to keep busy during off months. As the Canadian Roofers Contractor Association suggests, winter roof constructions and repair can be a boon to your business. It may help you keep your schedule full (and your workers fully employed) year-round. It prevents job losses or layoffs during the off season so you can maintain your regular roster of employees. Plus, it helps you build relationships with clients who might otherwise have to wait for the busy warm season for their build. 

What to Expect When Roofing in Winter

Roofing in winter weather requires a lot more foresight, planning and safety precautions than summer days. The good news is: most materials will perform up to a certain point with just a few tweaks to your technique. And if you adjust your work style to construct a roof designed to last through cold temperatures (being careful not to damage materials, such as shingles) you can be sure it will be built solidly.


Here’s How to Prepare Yourself for Cold Weather Roofing:

Winter Roofing Worker Safety There are ways to carefully and safely take advantage of the business boosting benefits of work year-round, by learning how to minimize the drawbacks of winter weather. But, never under any circumstances put your work before personal safety. Finishing a job is never worth risking a life – be sure to respect the limits Mother Nature may impose. Here are some unique cold weather threats to be aware of when doing winter roof work.
Snow and Ice Make Surfaces Extra Slippery Roof surfaces can become slick and slippery thanks to snow, ice, or frost. That means roofers must take extra precautions when working on a roof to wear roof-fall protection equipment, work methodically and carefully, and wear high-performing gear (like winter-rated work boots) which have been tested for wet, cold conditions. A common winter consideration is snow removal or de-icing of the roof surface after a storm. This requires extra time, extra caution, and different equipment on which you or your fellow workers need to be trained, along with increased monitoring while the removal is taking place. After all that, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) warns, even on a freshly cleared roof, there may be nearly invisible ice or frost build-up on the roof or deck surface, which can make work extremely hazardous. It is advisable to wait until the roof surface is free of ice and frost for safer roof application.Ensure that the attic space is adequately ventilated. Often, what appears to be a roof leak is actually condensation of moist interior air drifting up into a cold, improperly ventilated attic.

Snow Can Disguise Risks Such as Skylights, Debris or Materials Pay close attention to where you work and walk to ensure you don’t accidentally step on or fall through a skylight, or trip over materials hidden under the accumulation. Clear surfaces before working and pay close attention while disposing of snow and ice.

Cold Weather Can Be Hard on the Body Working in below-zero temperatures can put strain on the body, making your heart and lungs work harder, while at the same time putting you at increased risk for hypothermia or frostbite. Roofers should work shorter hours, planned around the sunshine and weather forecasts. Adjust your schedule to avoid uncomfortably cold temperatures and potential snow or ice storms. Roof workers should also wear layers of warm clothing that is breathable but provides ample coverage, hides exposed skin, and insulates against wind. Just like working under the hot sun, working in the cold takes a lot of physical exertion, so workers should also remember continue to drink plenty of fluids to prevent the risk of dehydration.

Snow or Ice can Weigh Down Your Structure Along with roof-fall equipment, one of the top considerations of roof fall protection (or, the measures roofers must take to prevent falls when working at height) is whether the surface upon which they’re working is sturdy and safe from collapse. The weight of winter snow or ice accumulation, and potentially extra snow-clearing equipment, could overload the roof structure, making it unsound. A competent person must determine whether the roof is safe before anyone starts climbing the ladder.