The Best Roofing for Cold Climates

Cold climates, with their subzero temperatures, harsh winds and freeze/thaw cycles, are extremely hard on roofing materials.

Cement Tiles

The winter can be as hard on roofs as it is on people.The winter can be as hard on roofs as it is on people.
Asphalt shingles appear on roofs across the country, but extreme weather causes them to dry and crack, shortening their lives. Fortunately, you can now find other roofing materials designed to withstand long winters.
Cement tiles come in any color and style you want.

Concrete roofing tiles are extremely strong and capable of withstanding the most brutal weather conditions. They are even fireproof. The tiles consist of a cured product made of cement, sand and pigments. Place them over the underlayment from bottom to top. Overlap cement tiles, and cap them at the ridges as you would other roof tiles. The weight is equivalent to three layers of asphalt shingles, so check the strength of your roofing system.

Metal Roofs

Snow slides off of metal roofs.

Metal roofs have become popular in colder climates, such as Upstate New York. An extremely durable option, metal roofs allow snow and ice to slide right off. This capacity prevents the formation of heavy icicles. Heating cables and snow guards prevent sheets of snow from sliding off at one time. You can install metal roofs during the winter; when properly insulated, they will help keep your house warm.

Solar Paneled Roofing

You can use active or passive solar roofing.

Solar paneled roofing can be passive or active. Passive tiles are made of curved glass that captures rising hot air and guides it to the building's heating system. Because the tiles become hot, snow and ice melts off. They are UV resistant and extremely strong. Active, or photovoltaic, solar panels actually convert sunlight (photons) into electricity. The roofs work more efficiently in northern climates because too much heat degrades the system's performance.


Insulation will prevent ice buildup on your roof.

Insulate and seal the attic floor so the warm air stays in your home and does not rise to the roof. The roof should be about the same temperature as the outside air. Snow melts and then freezes on an overheated roof, potentially creating damaging ice dams and icicles. Intake vents at the soffits and an outflow vent at the ridge allows airflow under the roof, keeps it cool and reduces moisture.

About the Author

Thea Tyree has worked as a teacher and speech therapist since 1994. She began freelance writing in 2011, with a focus on education and language development. Tyree holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Geneseo and is certified as a teacher of speech and language.