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Can Roof Coatings Be Applied in Cold Weather?

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

Cold temperatures can be harsh on your roof, which is why it needs to be inspected before the start of winter and, if needed, reinforced. One way of increasing your roof’s resistance to leaks is to apply roof coatings. Roof coatings serve as an additional layer that protects your roof from ultraviolet (UV) rays, moisture and, by extension, leaks.

Can Roof Coatings Be Applied in Cold Weather?

What if winter has already started? Can roof coatings be applied in cold weather? It depends on the type of coating and the weather conditions.

Types of Roof Coatings and the Temperature Ranges for Their Application

In general, cold-applied asphalt roof coatings should be applied in temperatures between 40 and 120 degrees while water-based coatings and coal-tar coatings need to be applied in temperatures 50 degrees or higher. If you need to apply a roof coating in cold temperatures, use solvent-based coatings like urethanes and silicones, which can handle colder temperatures during the drying process.

Here’s a tip: you can tell if a roof coating can be applied in cold temperatures by checking its label. Look for roof coatings that have been labeled winter-grade or all-temperature products. If you’re not sure about whether a roof coating can be applied in cold weather, you can check the manufacturer’s website or consult a contractor.

How Roof Coatings Are Applied in Cold Weather

Applying roof coatings in winter takes longer, thanks to cold temperatures and the extra steps in the application process. Here’s an overview of the application process:

  • Heating roof coatings - Certain types of roof coatings are temperature sensitive. For instance, bitumen is thin and fluid when hot and thick, and viscous when cold. Contractors will heat the roof coatings using warming devices so the coating can be applied evenly throughout your roof. However, heating the roof coatings isn’t necessary if the coatings were stored in heated storage cabinets or units.

  • Prepping the roof surface - Contractors will begin prepping the roof surface by removing grime and frost. Roof coatings should never be applied to icy surfaces, although emulsion-based roof coatings cant tolerate slightly damp surfaces.

  • Applying the roof coating - The best time to apply roof coatings is in the afternoon or on a sunny day. The warmer the roof temperature, the faster the cure time for the roof coating.

  • Allowing the roof coatings to fully cure - It will take some time for the roof coatings to cure in cold weather. For instance, roof coatings that would normally cure overnight in temperatures between 70 to 75 degrees may take several days to fully cure in temperatures below 40 degrees. If you want a faster cure time for your roof coatings, you can use polymer-modified emulsion-based coatings, which have shorter cure times.

The Different Types of Roof Coatings

Keep in mind that not all roof coatings can provide the same level of protection. To help you choose the right one for your roof, here’s an overview of the different types of coatings:

  • Acrylic coatings - Acrylic-based materials have excellent resistance against UV and hail damage. Acrylic coatings are also versatile: they can be applied to a wide variety of roofing membranes, including single-ply membranes and metal systems. However, acrylic coatings shouldn’t be applied in subzero temperatures or rainy weather conditions.

  • Silicone coatings - Silicone is a highly elastic material, which means silicone coatings adhere easily to the surface of the roof. They also have excellent resistance against weather-related damage and pooling water (a common problem for commercial roofing systems).

  • Polyurethane coatings - Of the four most common types of coatings, polyurethane coatings have the best resistance against impact damage and foot traffic.

  • Fluid-applied asphaltic rubber membrane system - The asphaltic rubber used to manufacture the coating combines the best qualities of its two component materials: rubber’s waterproof qualities and asphalt’s excellent resistance against water.

Having trouble choosing a roof coating? You can consult one of your local contractors. Since they’re familiar with the local climate and building codes, they can make better recommendations.

Preparing Your Roof For Winter

Roof coatings aren’t the only way to reinforce or prepare your roof for the cold season. Here are some tips:

  • Trim overhanging tree branches - You should trim overhanging tree limbs before strong winds knock them down.

  • Schedule a comprehensive roof inspection - The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends scheduling a roof inspection at least twice a year, ideally in spring and fall. That’s because extreme temperatures can exacerbate preexisting roofing damage.

  • Check if your roof or attic is adequately ventilated and insulated - According to the Insulation Institute, 90% of homes in the country don’t have adequate insulation, which is why you should have your roof or attic inspected. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends installing 13 to 18 inches of insulation in attics. However, your local building codes may have different insulation requirements, so it’s best to consult a local contractor. As for attic and roof ventilation, there should be a square foot of net free area (NFA)- the area through which air can pass - for every 300 square feet of floor area for attics with a vapor barrier. Attics with no vapor barriers, on the other hand, should have a square foot of NFA for every 150 square feet of attic floor space. Without adequate ventilation, humid air becomes trapped in the roof and attic, creating a damp environment that’s the perfect breeding ground for mold and shortening your roof’s lifespan. Remember: insulation and ventilation always go hand in hand.

  • Clean your gutters - Your roof is more vulnerable to leaks if water isn’t properly diverted away from your exterior.

Choosing a Roof Replacement

Roof coatings can extend your roof’s lifespan, but they won’t last long if it can’t handle the local climate. That’s why, in the long run, it makes more financial sense to get a roof replacement. Here’s an overview of the most popular roofing materials:

Asphalt Shingles

There’s a reason why asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the country. They’re cost-effective, easy to install and durable enough to handle a wide range of climates. Some homeowners think asphalt shingles are too dull. Fortunately, manufacturers offer asphalt shingles that can mimic the look and feel of more expensive roofing materials like tile.

Metal Roofing Panels

Metal roofing panels are a great choice if you’re looking to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Since metal roofing systems reflect heat instead of absorbing it, they can help reduce cooling costs. And, they’re recyclable, so discarded roofing panels won’t end up in landfills. In terms of durability, metal roofing panels can resist wind, rain, hail, fire and rot.

Keep in mind the durability of a metal roofing system depends on the kind of metal used to manufacture it. Here’s an overview of the most commonly used metals in roofing panels:

  • Galvanized steel - Galvanized steel roofing panels are coated with zinc to prevent rust.

  • Aluminum - Unlike galvanized steel, aluminum doesn’t need coatings because it’s naturally corrosion-resistant. However, aluminum is a soft metal, which means it’s less durable than sturdy steel.

  • Stainless steel - If you’re looking for a sturdier alternative that’s also rust-resistant, stainless steel would be a smart choice. The only downside is that it’s a bit on the pricey side.

  • Copper - When it comes to durability, nothing comes close to copper roofs. Copper roofs are rust and scratch resistant, and have exceptionally long lifespans. However, copper is quite expensive, but if you’re looking for an exceptionally durable roof, a copper roof is worth the investment.

To learn more about your roofing options, consult an experienced roofing contractor.

A1 Quality Roofing, Inc., has been providing professional roofing services to local residents since 1991. To request a quote, call us at (951) 877-4406, or fill out this form.

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