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Re-Shingle A Roof In Winter?



Would you re-roof in the winter, say January or February, in New Jersey? My roof is shot, shingles are curled, broken, one leak maybe two that are damp every so often after an extreme rain.

I didn't have the money before but should I do it now or wait to spring?

Is there a temperature range or weather condition that you shouldn't shingle a roof under?

Thank you,




Yes there is a weather period when asphalt shingles should NOT be installed in most northern parts of the country: January or February. March too, most years.  And December and November.

In the South, avoiding shingling in January and February may be all that's necessary.

Asphalt shingles have a sticky tar strip that adheres to the shingle above it, and it relies on warm sunny weather to make the tar soften and stick. Most of the shingle packages I've seen have specific instructions warning against installing shingles in cold weather.

However, that doesn't stop roofing contractors from installing shingles in the fall and winter. But doing the job properly requires adding a couple of small dabs of roofing cement (also called "tar") to the underside of each shingle tab. Many of the roofing cement products I've used are quite good at bonding in cold weather, but the tar needs to be kept warm or else it's too thick to apply. I prefer to use the roofing cement/tar in caulk tubes because it's less messy and faster to apply. It's also possible to keep a tube of caulk inside your jacket while working in cold weather... tar doesn't flow well when it's cold.

In mid-November 2005 I got a call from a friend who had just paid to have his roof re-shingled the week before. During a nasty windstorm about two dozen shingles had peeled off. We discovered that the "professional" roofer had neglected to nail the shingles between the guide lines printed on the shingles, even though he had been specifically instructed to follow the nailing lines. That problem, combined with the fact that the shingles had been installed in cool early-November weather, allowed the shingles to lift up and peel away.

Had there been a couple of days of warm sunny weather, the shingles probably would not have peeled away because they would've stuck to each other.

The bottom line is: You really need to follow the shingle manufacturers installation instructions. Temperature range, nail location, number of nails per shingle, how deep the nails are driven, and so on, are some criteria listed in the instructions. All those seemingly trivial details have been figured out by people (engineers, I assume) who analyze this stuff for a living.

If you hire a contractor to re-shingle your house, I strongly recommend that you do two things:

1. Get a copy of the installation instructions for the shingles you are using. You might obtain a pamphlet from the lumberyard, or just take a wrapper from a bundle of shingles after they are delivered.
2. Watch them like a hawk to make sure they are following the instructions TO THE LETTER.

Personally, I would just patch up the roof and wait until spring to re-shingle.

IF you can find a contractor who will guarantee that they will apply adhesive under each and every shingle, then it could be worth doing the job in cold weather. My experience is that shingles installed with extra adhesive make a superior installation that resists very high winds.

But I would monitor them and/or inspect their work by checking a dozen spots around the roof to see if the shingles are actually sticking, or have some black gooey tar underneath.

You might find that roofers are available in the winter months, but when the weather warms up they may all be busy.


Bruce W. Maki, Editor.



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Compiled January 6, 2006