When your toes are so cold they hurt. That's what Jon says but the industry doesn't even say that. Our beloved National Roofing Contractors Association of America, the NRCA, in a Q and A series has this to say:
Q. My contractor just started working on my roof and it's the middle of winter! At what temperature is it too cold to install asphalt shingles?
A. There are no specific temperature guidelines regarding when it is too cold to install asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles do become brittle in cold temperatures, with fiberglass shingles more likely to break than organic shingles. Breakage can be minimized or eliminated if the shingles are stored in a warm area and loaded onto the roof a few bundles at a time. Another concern is that the self-sealing strips will not seal or bond sufficiently in cold temperatures. Hand-tabbing (the application of quarter-size dabs of adhesive to the underside of shingles) is recommended if the building is located in an area prone to high winds. This will help prevent the shingles from blowing off the roof until warmer weather arrives and the sealing strips can set properly.
I stick to the "toes too cold scenario" because it makes sense. If it's too cold for the installer then he won't do as good a job. The shingles are harder to cut and his fingers are not working as well when it is cold. Plus the shingles will crack and they may come out wavy. If they lay down flat and don't shatter it is okay to install them. If the roof looks buckled then the contractor won't get paid. Later they will lay down but some encouragement will be need to help the "fish mouths," also refereed to as "warts and titties, " lay flat.
Hey, don't shoot the messenger now. That's what they've always been called. The second term requires both words because saying "roof wart" or "roof titty" means nothing to a roof. Together the words mean that there are lumps or bumps in the roof.
Here in Dallas it might be 30 one day and 60 the next so we do roof in the winter. In fact, the roofers are not scrambling as much to beat the 10:30 AM temperature surge of the summer.
The south slope of the roof will be as much as 25 degree warmer than the ground but the north side won't due to the angle of the sun. North slopes should be roofed on the warmest of winter days while the south side can be done even in colder weather....as long as the shingles aren't cracking.
SBS shingles are more flexible but the only two standing manufacturers of SBS shingles here in the Dallas roof market are Atlas and Malarkey. They are not very good roofing products and the corporate offices of these two companies are devoid of all morality and ethics. They'd steal from your grandmother and probably have. I've never seen either handle a warranty claim honestly.
Tile, slate, wood, and metal could care less about the temperature and for that matter neither does the asphaltic brands. But the roofer and contractor do. They have to put out a pretty product.
There are advantages galore to winter roofing projects. Sometimes the roofing company will do the job for less in the winter, after Christmas. Sometimes you feel like a Klondike Bar, or bear.
Roofing doesn't scuff when you look at it intensely like it does in the summer. The roofers are in a better mood too. Happy roofers and happy composition roofs make for happy homeowners. Bad roofs make for unhappy homes.
Roofers really prefer to be cold than the thermal incineration they experience when the angle to the sun is closer to 90 degrees to their latitude. Their fortitude is better in the winter. Even though the days are shorter the work day is longer.
To wrap things up, the positives are the happy roofer, who is not in a hurry, who is not scuffing your new roof, who works cheaper, who takes his time more, and who doesn't start beating on your roof before the sun comes up and stays well past your kids bedtime, does a better job. There is a lot less suffering by both parties, the buyer and the seller.
On top of that the weatherman seems to know what he is talking about in the winter. In the summer meteorologists can't predict what post lunch will be. Rain without clouds that form after the damage is done is common. That is why roofing should be "dried in" before lunch.
The downside is any guy needing to be up there on a damp and stormy day on a cold winter day needs to be writing novels instead of banging his fingers and inventing new combinations of cuss words. His misfortune will be more amiss when he slides off into the pool and under the pool cover. They'll find his body in the spring. His troubles are finally over.
What I'm trying to say is use good sense.
Our slave master when I was in college made us roof in the cold. He was big, had a gun, and owed us money. We did what he said. Once I dropped a bundle of Certainteed's Independence Shangle (yes it is too) on the ridge to break the ends loose and it split into two, like an amoeba, but without the wiggling. Fiberglass technology wasn't as advanced as it is today. Now the shingle scream when you do that to them.
No, that was the contractor. "You mean you did what I told you to do? What is wrong with you?"
The arguments against cold weather roofing are folklorist fantasy. Yet if the customer wants to wait until it is warm you should not try too hard to persuade him otherwise because there are a lot of salesmen who will tell him what he wants to hear. For example: sure we'll give you vent ridge. That's on a house with every three foot section at different levels like a soda straw banged by a shotgun.
Good common sense and the lack of a pit in your stomach are good weather vanes. Follow your heart and believe in yourself. Listen to your toes and everything will go up from there, maybe even the roof.
Tip of the day:when considering whether or not to buy ice shield for your roof penetrations remember that it will never snow a foot on Dallas Fort Worth roofs (again...and again).
Jon's college days winter roofing procedure:
Get up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head.
Fuel up with every breakfast food know to man and in the apartment.
Drive to job.
Drink coffee in the truck until the frost was gone from the roof.
Load shingles on the roof to keep warm and get the shingles on the roof.
In between every three tons of mule work, rest while rolling felt paper.
Take a well deserved break.
Open the bundles and lay the shingles in the sun.
Eat some more.
Start tacking down shingles.
Clean up site.
Go to beer store to wash dust and grit from mouth..
Chase other roofers from beer.
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