Important Tips for Installing Asphalt Tiles in Cold Climates

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Can the roof be replaced in winter?

According to specialists, the best time to build a roof is when the climate is “warm, stable and dry”. That is, when there are warm temperatures, little wind, and the sky is clear.

In this article, our roofing Advisor from will explain more about installing Asphalt Tiles in cold weather. 

In a perfect world, we would have that climate every day. But in most northern states and provinces, these ideal conditions are very rare. Instead of assessing whether it is possible to roof in winter weather, most roofers must look at how to do it.


In cold climates, roofers must consider several additional factors:

  • They must take more precautions regarding health and safety.
  • Roofing materials do not work as effectively as they do in moderate temperatures.
  • The quality of the work can be affected if they do not take the time to do the job properly in the face of winter challenges.

Beyond that, although not ideal, it is possible to do roofing and repair work in cold weather, as long as weather-related precautions are strictly adhered to.


The Benefits of Roofing in Cold Weather

In fact, a roofer or employer who wants to keep busy during the off-season months can make substantial profits.

As our roofing advisor points out, winter roofing construction and repair work can be an asset to your business. They can help keep your schedule busy (and your staff employed full-time) year-round. They prevent job loss or layoffs during the off-season so you can keep your regular payroll. And they help you build relationships with customers who might otherwise have to wait until the busy hot season to get work done.

According to our roofing advisor, some contractors charge up to 20 percent more for work performed in the winter, which can help avoid lost profits due to increased overhead and slower work (these are natural side effects of working in less sunlight, taking time off for slippery surfaces or unfavorable conditions, and implementing additional safety precautions, such as removing snow and ice from the roof).


What to Expect When Roofing in Winter

Roofing in winter weather requires a much higher level of foresight, planning and safety precautions than in summer.

The good news is that you can get most materials to perform acceptably with just a few adjustments to your technique. In addition, adapting your work style to build a roof designed to withstand cold temperatures (taking care not to damage materials such as shingles) will ensure that the construction is sound.


Here’s how to prepare for cold weather roofing:

Worker safety when roofing in winter

There are ways to work carefully and safely throughout the year and take advantage of the boost this gives to your business by learning how to minimize the inconvenience of winter weather.

However, you should never put work above your personal safety, under any circumstances. It is never worth risking your life to finish a job – be sure to respect the limits that Mother Nature may impose.

Below are some of the specific cold-weather risks you should be aware of when roofing in winter.


Snow and ice make surfaces more slippery

Roof surfaces can become unstable and slippery due to snow, ice or frost. Therefore, roofers should take extra precautions when carrying out their work, such as using roof fall protection equipment, working methodically and carefully, and using sturdy equipment (e.g., special winter work boots) that has been tested in wet and cold conditions.

A common factor to consider in winter is the removal of snow or ice from the roof surface after a storm. This requires extra time, extra precautions, and different equipment that you or your co-workers must learn to use, as well as a higher level of control during removal.

After all that, our roofing advisor warns that there can be virtually invisible ice or frost buildup on the roof or deck surface, which can make the job extremely dangerous. It is recommended that you wait until the roof surface is free of ice or frost for a safer roof application.

Make sure the attic space is properly ventilated.  Often, what appears to be a roof leak is actually a condensation of moist indoor air rising to a cold, poorly ventilated attic.


Snow can hide hazards such as skylights, debris or materials

Pay close attention to where you work or walk to make sure you don’t accidentally step or fall through a skylight, or trip over materials hidden under accumulated snow. Clear surfaces before working and be very careful when disposing of snow and ice.


Cold weather can be hard on the body

Working in sub-zero temperatures can be a demanding task for the body, as it makes the heart and lungs work harder and at the same time increases the risk of hypothermia or cold burns. Adjust your schedule to avoid too-cold temperatures and possible snow or ice storms. In addition, wear layers of warm clothing that are breathable but cover you well, cover exposed skin and insulate you from the wind. Working in low temperatures requires great physical effort, such as working in the sun in the summer, so it is important to remember to keep drinking enough fluids to prevent the risk of dehydration.


Snow or ice can overload the structure

Along with protective equipment, one of the main aspects of fall protection from the ceiling (i.e. the measures roofers must take to prevent falls when working at height) is to analyse whether the working surface is robust and safe from collapse. The weight of the winter snow or ice accumulation, and possibly the additional equipment used to remove the snow, could overload the roof structure and make it weak. A competent person should determine whether the roof is safe before someone starts climbing the ladder.


Equipment and materials

Now that you know how to prepare, how well can you expect your tools and materials to perform in cold winter climates?


Asphalt shingles.

According to our roofing advisor, the best temperature to install asphalt shingles is between 40 and 85°F. When installing asphalt shingles in cold weather with temperatures below this range, shingles can weaken and break more easily. To avoid this risk, when working in freezing temperatures, store materials in a warm location (above 50°F or 10°C) until immediately before use.

He adds that the tiles will also conform to the shape of the surface on which they are supported; therefore, keep them on a flat surface, stacked and elevated on pallets so that they do not touch the ground and store them in an enclosed area if possible. Never throw or drop the tiles when it is cold, as they could break.


Nails and nail guns.

Nail guns can get stuck more often when it is cold. To ensure that you do not drive through the tiles when nailing, nail down and through the double layer of the tile, taking care to use a straight and level angle.


Roll Roofing and Roll Roofing Membranes

Our roofing advisor recommends the use of winter weather membranes to seal eaves, apexes, skylights, vents and pipes, rather than using roll roof coatings designed for warm weather, which may curve or wrinkle when applied in cold weather.when choosing to use any type of felt or membrane, unroll the material in the presentation area and allow it to relax before applying it. This will help reduce wrinkles caused by cold weather. Always store roll roofing upright so that it does not warp from the cold floor.

The above information is intended as a general guide to the application of shingles in cold climates. Always consult the tile manufacturer’s application instructions and warranty requirements, as well as local building codes for any other cold-weather application requirements.


Control Expectations

A patient attitude, together with detailed and safe planning, can make a big difference when carrying out a winter roofing job. If you follow these suggestions, you will get a solid, durable and functional product that you can be proud of, without having to wait for those beautiful summer days.

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