This is a common question with a straightforward answer: Yes, you can replace a roof in the winter.
However, there are three considerations to be aware of prior to tackling a winter roof remodeling project. From weather-related challenges to choosing a roofing material that is fit for frosty conditions, here’s what you need to know about winter roof replacements:
- How winter weather conditions impact roofing.
- Challenges with installing asphalt shingles in the winter.
- The best type of roofing material for winter roof replacements.
How Winter Weather Conditions Impact Roof Replacements
The biggest challenge with winter roof replacements is the weather. Extreme cold and snow can create hazardous working conditions and problems with roofing tools. For instance, pneumatic tools–such as nail guns and compressors–are sensitive to freezing temperatures since moisture can freeze and block the flow of air.
Given that the safety of roofing professionals is paramount, homeowners in regions prone to severe winter weather should be aware that weather delays may extend the timeline of your project. Shorter daylight hours in the winter months can also extend the project timeline when compared to other seasons.
Homeowners in milder climates can experience weather-related delays to their projects, too.
Rainy conditions will bring most roofing projects to a halt since it’s imperative that the wood decking below the roof stays dry during the installation process. Trapped moisture can lead to rot, mold, and leaks in the future, so be aware that most roofing contractors will halt the installation process in rainy weather.
The key takeaway here is that winter weather and shorter daylight hours can delay or extend the timeline of a winter roof replacement. This makes it crucial for homeowners to proactively communicate any concerns to their contractors prior to the start of the project.
Don’t be afraid to ask the following questions:
- What is your procedure if inclement weather is forecasted during my roofing project?
- How and when will weather-related delays be communicated?
- Will weather delays add any unexpected costs to the project?
Challenges with Installing Asphalt Shingles in the Winter
You may have heard roof replacements shouldn’t take place during the winter. This is one of those roofing myths that originates from the fact that asphalt shingles shouldn’t be installed during the winter.
Why can’t asphalt shingles be installed in the winter? When temperatures drop below 40° F, they become extremely difficult to install for several reasons:
- Asphalt shingle installations require adhesive products that are activated by the sun’s heat. Without that heat, the adhesive may not activate until warmer weather returns. If the adhesive doesn’t activate properly, high winds and wind uplift can blow the shingles off the roof.
- Asphalt shingles cut like hot butter in the summer, but they are like cutting a block of ice below 40° F. They also lose their flexibility in colder temperatures and are prone to cracking or breaking during installation.
- Many asphalt shingle manufacturers state that their products should be installed in warm temperatures. Installing asphalt shingles in the winter increases the risk of voided warranties if the shingles are installed below the manufacturer’s recommended temperature.
While asphalt shingles shouldn’t be installed during the winter, there are other types of roofs that are ideal for winter climates and winter roof replacements.
The Best Type of Roofing Material for Winter Roof Replacements
For winter roof replacements, selecting the right roofing material is key as some options are much easier to install and offer superior performance.
The best type of roofing material for winter roof replacements will meet these three criteria.
Low-Temperature Flexibility and Performance
As mentioned above, roofing materials like asphalt shingles become brittle in cold temperatures and are susceptible to cracking during installation. Metal roofing, on the other hand, is ideal for winter roof replacements due to its high ductility. Ductility refers to the ability of metal roofing to bend under stress without breaking, which is crucial in frigid temperatures where less ductile materials like asphalt shingles might crack.
Installation Without Adhesives
Roofing materials that are installed with adhesives require a certain temperature threshold in order for the adhesive to bond effectively. Winter temperatures can prevent these adhesives from reaching the necessary activation temperature, leading to weak or failed bonds that can compromise the integrity and longevity of the roof. Since metal roofs are installed using mechanical fastening methods, rather than adhesives, the installation process is not affected by temperature fluctuations.
Metal roofs are commonly secured to the roof with screws or fasteners that physically attach the metal panels to the roof's structure.
Durability and Weather Resistance
Homeowners in regions prone to freezing temperatures or severe weather should look for a roofing material that is engineered to withstand winter weather. When evaluating different options for your home, be sure to look for roofing materials that can resist the following:
- Hail: Look for a roofing material that has been rated with a Class 4 impact rating for hail. This is the highest rating for hail resistance and impact from wind-driven debris.
- High Winds: Homeowners in wind-prone regions should look for a roofing material that has been approved for use in high-velocity hurricane zones (HVHZs). HVHZs, such as Miami-Dade County, have the strictest building codes in the nation, and roofing materials approved for HVHZs have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they can withstand hurricane-force winds.
- Snow and Ice: Homes in snow-prone regions require a durable and lightweight roof that can support the weight of heavy snow loads. The roof should be non-porous, resist repeated freeze and thaw cycles, and help to prevent ice dam formation.
Winter Roof Replacements Made Easy with DECRA Metal Roofing
DECRA Metal Roofing has set the gold standard for high-performance roofing since 1957. Manufactured at our state-of-the-art facility in California, our line of stone-coated metal roofing products have withstood the test of time and protected homes in some of the harshest climates in the world.
Ready to see and feel the DECRA difference? Request a complimentary sample today.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in October 2021, but has been updated with relevant information.