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From heavy snow and ice to blustery winds, harsh winter weather can take a toll on commercial roofs. If you notice ice dams forming on your property’s roof or shingles missing after a winter storm blows through, your best bet is to contact a professional roofing contractor.

But is it possible to replace a commercial roof during the winter?

In short, yes! But, a roofing contractor will need to take extra precautions to protect your commercial property—and the roofing company’s employees.

Deciding whether to replace a roof during the winter can be a challenge for both property owners and contractors. To ease your concerns, we’ve answered some of the most common questions associated with winter roof replacements to help make the decision easier.

How Do I Know If I Need to Replace My Roof?

While leaks are an obvious sign that a roof may need to be replaced, several other problems signify the need for a new roof. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), a few common signs of roof failure include:

• Missing, Cracked, or Warped Shingles
• Deteriorated Flashing
• Granule Accumulation in Gutters or Downspouts
• Cracked Paint or Stains on the Interior of a Structure

What is the Best Type of Roof to Install in Winter?

The best type of roofing for winter installations is metal since cold temperatures do not affect the material. Metal roofing is available in a variety of styles and not only provides increased protection from the elements, but it also enhances the overall aesthetic of a property.

Other benefits of metal roofs include:

• Superior Strength and Durability
• Increased Energy Efficiency
• Minimal Maintenance

Can I Replace My Roof with Asphalt Shingles in Winter?

For a more traditional look at a cost-effective price, many commercial property owners choose asphalt shingles. According to the NRCA, there are no specific temperature guidelines for installing asphalt shingles, although many manufacturers recommend that roofing contractors take extra precautions when the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. These precautions include:

• Storage: Contractors should store shingles in a warm location to prevent breakage.

• Hand-Tabbing: To ensure the shingles stay in place until the weather warms, roofers can apply an adhesive to the underside of the shingles.

• Nails: Roofers should take care to make sure that nails are properly installed on each shingle. Since asphalt shingles can become brittle in cold temperatures, it’s easier to overdrive nails, which can lead to blow-offs or displacement. Adjusting the pressure on a compressor can help alleviate this issue.

What if My Building has a Low-Slope or Flat Roof?

Low-slope and flat roofs require a different installation process than other types of roofs no matter the season. The most common types of low-slope and flat roofing materials include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), thermoplastic olefin (TPO), and modified bitumen materials, all of which can be installed during the winter.

If you’re having a low-slope or flat roof replaced, your contractor should schedule the job when there isn’t a chance of snow, ice, or rain. They should also complete the project in sections so no portion of the roof is exposed to the elements at the end of each day.

Related Questions

How Do I Choose a Commercial Roofing Contractor?

As a commercial property owner, it’s important to prequalify roofing contractors so repairs or replacements are completed quickly and efficiently. Verifying accreditation with the Better Business Bureau and affiliations with organizations such as the NRCA are both good places to start.

For example, roofing contractors that are members of the NRCA should have:

• A Permanent Place of Business
• Written Proposals
• Proof of License, Bonds, and Insurance
• References
• A Portfolio of Completed Projects
• Warranties
• Extensive Knowledge of Various Roofing Systems
• A Commitment to Safety
• Installation Expertise
• Provisions for On-Site Supervision
• A Professional Maintenance Program

How Can Roofers Stay Safe When Working in Winter?

Cold temperatures, snow and ice-covered roofs, and strong winds are all challenges that roofers face during the winter. Health risks include hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot, a condition that results when feet are wet for an extended period.

To prevent slips and falls, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), recommends that contractors and roofers:

• Wear Insulated Footwear with Good Traction
• Clear Snow and Ice from Walking Surfaces
• Take Short Steps at a Slow Pace
• Use Required Fall Protection
• Have Adequate Training
• Use Ladders Safely


Although the best time to undertake roofing projects is when the weather is warm and dry, there’s no way to predict when you’ll need a roof replacement. If you’re having issues with a commercial roof during the winter, a roof replacement and maintenance  is possible as long as you work with a professional contractor and choose the right materials. Don’t let Old Man Winter keep you from protecting your property!

MacDermott Roofing has been providing commercial roofing installation, replacement and repair throughout Michigan for 45 years. Our highly skilled, OSHA-certified commercial roofing installers have expertise in all roofing systems. Your company will be provided with a reasonable, custom quote, and personalized customer care to speak one-on-one with your team. Call us today for a Free Estimate on your commercial roof project!