Alabama winters are always difficult to predict from week to week. From pleasant 60-degree weather, to severe weather and the rare snow shower, it’s safe to say that it’s nearly impossible to predict what winter will be like in Alabama. With that being said, “Can you install shingles in cold weather?” is a question we always get asked this time of year.
In this article, we will answer that question and tell you what precautions must be made during cold weather roof installations.
First of all, shingles have a tendency to become stiff and brittle during cold weather. This is because they are made out of asphalt which reacts this way naturally during colder months. This brings us to handling precautions that we have to take. When bundles of shingles are exposed to cold weather, it’s important to make sure they lay flat on any surface they are resting on. You should not lay them over ridges for storage because this will cause the shingles to hold that shape temporarily. If they are installed with this bend in them, it may cause them to have trouble laying flat. One way we have stored shingles during a roof installation is by placing a tent over the pallets with a heater in the tent to keep them warm and more pliable.
The second, and biggest, consideration you must look at is the activation of the sealant strips on the shingles. Sealant strips are basically adhesive that makes the shingles stick to one another when they get warm. Roofing in cold weather can cause the sealant to not “activate” quickly which allows the shingles to be blown off easier in high winds. Now, if they are installed on cold weather, it doesn’t mean that she sealant is ruined and will never seal, it just means that they will begin to seal when the temperatures rise.
In Alabama, it is extremely uncommon for temperatures to stay below 32 for days on end. A cold Alabama day usually has a low in the high 20s and then temperature can rise to the 40s
by the middle of the day. Because of this, there aren’t many special considerations that we have to take and the sealant on the shingles should start activating the same day or same week, at the least. If you live in a cold climate, like in the north, extra considerations do have to be made because the temperatures can stay below freezing for days and even weeks in a row. In this situation, manufacturers require the shingles to be hand sealed. This is usually done with asphalt cement. By applying asphalt cement, the shingles will bond to one another and give the sealant time to activate when it warms. It’s basically a temporary measure to ensure the shingles won’t blow off in high winds.
Have you ever heard that metal shrinks in cold weather and expands in warm weather? This is the same with asphalt shingles! Therefore, the shingles should have a very small gap between them when they are installed. This is to give them room to expand and prevents them from bunching up if they are too tight.
A lot of customers seem to think that their shingle warranties are void forever if roofs are installed in cold weather. This is not true. Let’s say a roof is installed in cold weather and a freak storm causes shingles to blow off. In this case, this would not be a warranty claim because the shingles never had a chance to seal, so a manufacturer will not cover this. Now, let’s say a roof was installed in the winter time, but it is now summer and the sealant has broken down or failed, then this would more than likely be a manufacturer warranty claim. Simply put, installing in the winter does not make manufacturer warranties null and void forever, it all depends on how it was installed and if the manufacturer’s cold weather guidelines were followed.
All shingle manufacturers have cold weather installation instructions and your roofer should follow them to give you the best roof installation possible.