Can You Replace a Roof in the Winter?

Dec 19, 2019 | Roofing, Spouting

With Old Man Winter here in full force, you may be noticing some issues with your current roofing system. From missing shingles to ceiling leaks, you might just now be realizing that you need to replace that roof—even though we’re smack dab in the middle of winter.

But can you replace a roof in the winter? This is a great question that we get every year from homeowners. The fact is that you yes, you CAN replace your roof in the winter, but it’s important to use proper technique from start to finish. This way you can ensure that your roof performs at peak condition at every season.

Here are some techniques used for winter roof installation:

What’s the Best Temperature for Roof Installation?

In an ideal world, asphalt roof shingles should be installed between 40 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Even high quality asphalt shingles can crack when hammered, and installing in the wrong temperature can promote breakage. This is one of the biggest problems when you install asphalt shingles when it’s under 40 degrees.

With that said, winter is often a great time to get a good deal on a new roof, but your roofing contractor will need to wait until the temperature is in the right range before scheduling an installation date.

Top Troubles of Roofing Installation in the Winter

Aside from asphalt shingles becoming brittle in the winter, there is another important reason as to why it’s important to wait for the right temperature. When the temperature drops below 40 degrees, some self-adhesive shingles have a hard time sticking. The sealing strips typically have no trouble bonding in the spring and summer, but in the winter we need to wait until the temperature is higher.

If you choose another type of roofing aside from asphalt, you’re not necessarily out of the woods. Fiberglass shingles are very susceptible to fracturing in the winter, and shakes can also break apart as temperatures approach the freezing mark.

How Can You Replace a Roof in the Winter?

Despite a handful of obstacles that come along with winter roofing installation, winter is still a perfectly acceptable time to replace your roof, and as mentioned before, the best deals are often offered as the roofing business slows down.  

In addition, professional roofing contractors use numerous techniques to ensure that your new roof isn’t impacted by cold temperatures.

Properly Sealing the Shingles

It’s important to use proper technique for sealing shingles in the winter. Most roofing shingles are designed with thermally-activated asphalt sealant. This bonds the shingles to the roof using sunlight, and it can take up to a couple weeks for the shingles to completely stick.

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The approach is a bit different in the winter, where sunlight in New England is a bit scarce. In the winter time, a professional roofing contractor may choose to hand-seal the shingles with an approved asphalt roofing cement or other adhesive that’s provided by the manufacturer. Every tab should be sealed with one or two dabs (roughly 1-inch in diameter) of asphalt roofing cement. The cement should be near the shingle’s edges, but never exposed.

What About Winter Roof Maintenance?

Even if you don’t intend to replace your entire roof this winter, your roof still may require maintenance. Be very careful about walking over shingles when it’s cold, since they can easily break under the weight of your foot—especially if the shingles are located on an uneven surface or they’re slightly curved.

Activity on your roof may also break the sealant bond on the shingles, so be prepared to hand-seal shingles that are peeling away from your roof.

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