best roof types
The Best Roof Types for Cold Climates
November 14, 2018

When it comes to your home, there are places you can venture into budget or DIY territory and there are places where quality counts. Your roof is one of those parts of the home that you should never skimp on.

As true as that is for every homeowner, your roof matters even more when you live in a cold climate. The key is knowing what roof features hold up best against winter weather.

To make sure you get the roof your home needs, check out these tips about the roof types that work best in frigid winters.

Best Roof Types for Winter Weather

When winter arrives, it brings some unique challenges to your roof. Between snow weighing down the roof and potential leaks, you need to choose your roof wisely so it will hold up. Check out these tips for a roof that can transition from fall to winter.

Invest in Metal

Choosing between metal or shingling materials is a choice every homeowner has to make. While all roof types have their pros and cons, metal roofing is more durable against winter weather.

Metal roofing is less likely to develop leaks than shingles are. The metal's smooth texture also makes it easier for snow and ice to slide off. Considering that one of the most common winter roofing problems is snow and ice piling up and putting weight on the roof, this is an important factor.

If You Must, Choose Shingles Wisely

As important as a roof's durability is, you have to consider appearance as well. If your home's style demands shingles, some shingles work better for others.

In particular, use asphalt shingles. They're more durable than wood shingles, so they'll hold up better against a harsh winter. Our Home Centre offers a variety of options to make your choice easier.

Keep It Simple

As you'll notice, one of the most important considerations for your winter roof is that snow and ice don't get trapped. Even small snags can accumulate over time, causing a heavy and dangerous build-up.

Going with a simplistic roof design is one way to keep that entrapment to a minimum. If your roof has unique and intricate details, every ridge is a risk for trapped snow and ice.

Instead, aim for a smooth and sleek look that leaves a clear path for snow and ice to escape.

Go For a Gable Roof

In addition to the roofing material, the roof's overall shape will play a part as well. In particular, we're talking about your roof pitch.

Some homeowners are going with unique roof shapes like flat areas or areas with a minimal slope or pitch. While these styles might create a modern look, they have a downside. Without regular removal and maintenance, a roof can cave in from heavy snow and ice.

Instead, a good idea is to stick with a classic gable roof. A gable roof is the simple classic design of a triangle-like roof with a peak in the middle.

That slope is important for allowing snow and ice to get off the roof. In general, the steeper of a slope you have, the better it will be. In fact, some areas even have a minimum roof pitch written into their building codes.

For those of us in the cold Canadian climate, we recommend a roof pitch of at least 35 degrees. However, it will depend on your home's structure so a roofing professional can recommend the perfect pitch for your roof.

Think Twice About a Skylight

Who wouldn't love to see the skies while enjoying the temperature control of the indoors? That's why skylights have become so popular. While they're not out of the question in a winter climate, they do come with some risks.

Any time you put a hole in your roof, it's an opportunity for a leak. Those leaks can cause serious damage to your home, especially if you have a consistent layer of snow on top of it.

For the most part, we discourage putting holes in your roof for a skylight or other purposes. If you do install a skylight, make sure you seal it well or hire a professional and ensure that they do it right.

There's one exception to our "no holes" rule: roof vents. These vents are important because of the temperature stabilization.

If your attic is warm under your roof, it will melt the snow so it runs toward the edge of the roof. When the water gets to the edge, though, it no longer has the warmth from the attic so it freezes.

This causes an ice dam around the edge of the roof. These dams are dangerous because they block snow from sliding off the roof, causing a heavy buildup.

When you install your roof vents or any other holes in your roof, however, be sure to place them as close to the roof's peak as possible.

Keeping it Clean

With all these other tips in mind, the best type of roof for winter is a clean roof.

Debris and dirt on your roof can add to the weight of snow and ice. Before the serious winter weather hits, take a trip up to your roof to clear off any debris you find.

Another common problem is that debris from your roof will end up in your gutters causing a blockage. When the gutters are blocked, this can create problems come spring melt.

On top of getting rid of any debris on your roof, take the opportunity to clean out your gutters. It's not a fun chore but it's far more enjoyable than having to do repairs.

Winter-Proofing Your Roof

You'll find plenty of advice about how to prepare your roof for winter, like looking for leaks. For a truly winter-proof roof, though, it all starts with the roof types and designs you choose.

The next time you're installing a new roof, make sure you choose one that will stand up against dozens of Canadian winters. In the meantime, check out our home improvement blog for more great home maintenance tips.

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