In all honesty, this is a question we get asked A LOT.
And, with good reason, too. After all, winter is – typically – the ‘off season’ for roofing (at least here in the Midwest) so it would make sense to some that commissioning a new roof during this time might be the smart thing to do.
With that said, unless your roof has sustained some sort of massive wintertime damage or has been completely ripped off due to the freakish winds that seem to come with Nebraska winters, those of us here at Golden Rule strongly suggest that you hold off on a new roof until the temperature is a little more…temperate. Here’s our reasoning behind that thought:
Ideally, installing a new roof should be done when the weather has consistent ambient temperatures of 50 (or so) degrees. And, it’s not about the comfort of the roofer, either, although it can be about their safety – no one should be up on a roof in cold, slick, icy weather – that’s a recipe for disaster for all involved.
Actually, the needs for more temperate temperatures has to do with YOU – after all, it is YOUR roof. Unless it’s absolutely necessary (see our examples above for a few ‘absolutely necessary’ scenarios) to put a roof on in the dead of winter, it really is best to wait. That’s because installing shingles in freezing temperatures comes with a substantial amount of potential drawbacks. For starters, hammering nails through super cold shingles can make them crack – and, in turn, fail. Since the whole purpose of having a new roof put on your house is to get rid of damaged shingles (and any leaks caused by said damage), it makes sense that you want to have as optimal conditions as possible when it comes time to put that new roof on.
Another thing to consider is that installing shingles on a warmer roof deck means that the plywood won’t be forced to expand and contract quickly, which can cause nails to break or pop back out through the shingle. Again, not something you want with a new roof.
Shingles also need heat to properly seal, which can’t happen in super frigid temperatures. This sealing doesn’t typically occur until the roof reaches a temperature of approximately 70 degrees; now, because of the fact that the shingles will warm in the sun, it doesn’t have to actually be 70 degrees outside for a roof to be installed. BUT, that warming process is something that’s much easier to accomplish when it’s sunny and 55 degrees (the sun warms up those roofs quite nicely) than when it’s sunny and 5 degrees.
Now, does this mean that a roof absolutely cannot be installed in the winter? Well, no, but – again – it’s something we don’t recommend unless it’s absolutely necessary. And, if that’s the case, it is possible to get the job done correctly – especially with an experienced roofing contractor (that would be us!). However, if it’s going to be done right in cold weather, there are precautions that need to be taken, such as hand nailing all the shingles (as opposed to using a nail gun) to help prevent cracking, and heat sealing each and every strip of shingles (along with making sure to use proper adhesives for the circumstances at hand) is a must. However, these things are much more labor intensive which, in turn, can translate into greater cost to the customer.
If you have questions about whether your roof needs to be replaced RIGHT NOW or if it’s something that can potentially be patched until warmer weather arrives, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. The professional roofers here at Golden Rule would be more than happy to inspect your roof and give you an honest recommendation and discuss any and all options available.