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Midwest Living: Cold Climate Roofing Materials

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Joe Siebenaler

When we put ourselves in our customers’ situations, we prioritize what matters to them. It pushes us to expedite our problem-solving skills to create faster, more efficient solutions. If it matters to you, it matters to us. That’s our promise.

The roof is a fundamental building block of any home. It protects you from the elements and keeps you safe. No matter where you live, it is necessary to maintain your roof, but owning a home in Minnesota puts significantly more stress on your roof than in warmer climates.

When it comes to colder climates, roofing materials matter. If a roof isn’t designed for a cold climate, it is far more susceptible to damage and leakage. Leaks can lead to a whole host of other problems that will cost you more money over time.

Here is all you need to know about cold climate roofing materials and why they matter.

What Makes a Cold Climate Roof?

While most roofs are designed to adapt to changes in climate, not all roofs are equally adaptable. The quality that makes a roof ideal for colder climates is its ability to maintain roof temperature. For example, in Minnesota, ice dams are a common winter problem. Ice dams are caused by heat escaping through a damaged or improperly insulated and ventilated roof, which causes ice to build up on the roof, creating the potential for further damage to the roof and home as a whole.

An ideal cold climate roof will not release excess heat through the roof but maintain a proper roof temperature and keep all the warm air inside, heating your home.

Benefits of a Cold Climate Roof

Although replacing your roof can cost a significant chunk of change, having a roof made of the right materials for a northern climate comes with many benefits and will actually save you money in the long run.

The benefits of a cold climate roof include:

  • Higher energy-efficiency and lower utility costs
  • Prevention of ice dams
  • Prevention of roof leakage
  • More durable
  • Lower repair costs over time

Can I Replace My Roof in the Winter?

A common question is whether or not it is possible to replace a roof in the winter. Although this work is generally done between April and October, there is no right answer to this question.

There are many factors involved in roof repair and replacement, but temperature poses the largest obstacle. Some roofing materials cannot be installed below certain temperatures. Furthermore, sealing and bonding agents used in the installation process won’t seal properly if it is too cold outside. However, at Principle Building and Remodeling, we do our best to accommodate customers’ needs. Contact us to discuss your winter roofing needs.

Best Cold Climate Roofing Materials

To have a roof fit for a Minnesota winter, it is important to know what materials are needed for roofing in a cold climate. There are three types of roofing materials that are designed to withstand the frigid winter months.

Metal Roofing

In a cold, snowy climate, metal roofing is one of the best, most popular options on the market. Two characteristics set metal roofs apart from the rest:

  • Lightweight
  • Smooth surface

These two characteristics let snow and ice slide right off, preventing icicles and ice dams. This also means you don’t need to worry about the build-up of snow and ice on the roof creating dangerous amounts of weight and pressure. Metal roofing materials include snow guards that prevent snow from falling off the roof in an avalanche and instead of sliding off little by little.

Proper installation is key to this material. Metal roofing requires extra insulation. When properly installed, a metal roof will keep your home cozy all winter long and maintain the proper roof temperature.

It is essential to note that despite all of these benefits, metal roofing can be expensive and dent easily.

Slate Tile Roofing

Slate roofing is spectacularly durable, which is why it has been so popular for so long. Characteristics that set this roofing method apart are:

  • Durability
  • Appearance

Because of its composition, slate tile roofing is nearly indestructible. Intense storms, heavy snowfall, and layers of ice will fail to damage this reliable roofing material. In fact, slate tile roofing has an expected lifespan of one hundred years. Unlike a metal roof, a slate tile roof requires no extra insulation. The slates are so dense they do an excellent job trapping heat in the home and regulating roof temperature.

The downsides of slate roofing are its weight and its price tag. This costly roofing material is so heavy that it may require added structural support for installation.


Roof shingles are the most common roofing choice and come in various colors, styles, and materials. Super shingles and wood shakes are two types of shingle that are rising in popularity due to:

  • Affordability
  • Increased energy-efficiency

Both super shingles and wood shakes are not only more affordable than metal and slate roofs, but they come with warranties that range from thirty years to a lifetime. They’re both more durable than traditional shingles. Because super shingles are four times a normal shingle’s weight, they offer four-times better protection and four-times greater energy-efficiency. Wood shakes increase energy efficiency by promoting better air circulation.

While traditional shingles are known to crack during a harsh winter, super shingles and wood shakes are designed to withstand cold temperatures and heavy snow. There are no real downsides to these nontraditional shingle options.

Roofing Services You Can Count On

Here in Minnesota, staying warm throughout the winter is essential, and a cold climate roof can help you accomplish that. Not only will it keep you warm, but it will help prevent damage to your home from winter weather and lower your utility costs. At Principles Building and Remodeling, we choose to focus on the quality of our work rather than getting the job done as quickly as possible. If you’re thinking about replacing your current roof with a cold climate roof, contact our roofing professionals for more information about our roofing services and a free inspection. Visit our website and browse the before-and-after photo gallery to see our quality craftsmanship.

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