The roof is one of the single most important aspects of a home when it comes to shielding you and your property from harsh external elements.
Ever wondered how heavy snow, extreme temperatures and high winds can affect your roof? Wonder no more. We’ve explored the impact of the extreme disparities of weather across Canada, and recorded our findings below.
Best Roofs for Cold Weather
As far as countries go, Canada vies with Russia as the coldest nation in the world.
There’s no doubt that the ice and snow associated with these low temperatures take a toll out of your roof. This is especially true for residents of the Yukon, NWT, and cities such as Saskatoon, Regina, and Sherbrooke, who are well-experienced with frigid conditions.
Potential roof damaging problems:
- Icicles often cause damage to shingles and gutters
- The weight of excessive snow and ice piling on your roof, depending on its load bearing capacity, can cause leaks, sagging and even potential roof collapse. This is especially problematic when snow absorbs rain water.
- Ice dams can cause leaks, especially if your roof is not properly ventilated or insulated – which can eventually manifest in mould or rot formation and/or insect infestation.
- Hail stones may not immediately devastate your roof but the impact of them over an extended period can cause leaks, rot and displaced shingles. Common signs of hail damage include: a bruised roofing surface with small depressions, shattered, dislodged, or lost shingles, and loose shingle granules.
The best roof alternatives for a cold climate include:
- Steeper pitched roofs as snow slides off them more easily
- Compact roofs with a reduced surface-to-volume ratio are best for reducing heating costs
- Darker coloured roofs such as dark shingles are ideal for melting snow and retaining heat from sunlight during the Winter
- Rubber roofing are also effective at absorbing heat
Best Roofs for Hot Weather
While Canada is well known for its cool climate, it may surprise you that Canadians invented the UV Index, a measure of the intensity of the ultraviolet radiation when the sun is highest.
We all understand that as the UV increases, the sun’s rays can do more damage to our skin, and eyes, but few of us ever think about the damaging effect of the sun’s heat and UV rays to our roof.The sun is a roof’s most common enemy. Damaging UV rays are on constant offence, even on cloudy and rainy days – breaking down the molecular structure of your roof extremely slowly.
The heat causes many materials to swell. When the temperature dips and they begin to shrink again, brittleness becomes an issue. Wood in your attic area can also be dried out by excessive heat, especially over a long period of time.
Flat roofs are a common choice for high temperature locales.
Metal roofs which reflect the sun’s rays are also ideally suited to warmer weather. Other construction methods, such as installing vents and fans in attics may also help them better handle excess warmth.
- White or light shades of metal or asphalt which reflect the sun’s rays
- Metal sheets – may also lower the cooling costs for your home
- Flat roofs or lower pitched roofs – especially in areas with low rainfall
- Tile roofs – clay tiles are a fine option as they shut out heat and are fire resistant
- Algae-resistant materials, especially for humid, tropical environments
Best Roofs for Dry Weather
Do you live in a persistently cold, dry region such as Calgary, Edmonton or parts of drought-prone prairie land like Southern Alberta, which lack the humidity of most other Canadian cities? Or perhaps you’re a resident of hot, semi-desert Osoyoos, BC? If so, this should be one of your deciding factors when choosing a roof.
The best types of roofing alternatives for dry weather include:
- Metal sheets/shingles
- Clay shingles – do not require moisture to stay intact
- Asphalt shingles – especially for hot, dry desert conditions
- Composite shingles layered with asphalt
- Concrete tiles
Best Roofs Wet Weather
If you live in an area like Vancouver or Victoria, BC – which are known for being very rainy and foggy for much of the year – owning a roof that can withstand all that water is probably your primary concern. It’s a lot easier than running around with buckets next time there’s a downpour, after all.
Rain can become very problematic, especially when leaks allow moisture to get into your home and potentially cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Moisture can penetrate cracks in the roof, causing mould, and rot to build up and encouraging insects.
Floods often result in the foundation and walls of a home being tilted and other structural damage, leading the roof to become displaced or potentially collapse.
It’s worth noting that while choosing a sturdy roof is vital, preparing your home to withstand heavy rains and flood conditions also requires ensuring that other parts of your home can hold up to this type of weather. Having a stable foundation and walls makes it less likely for your roof to collapse.
- Flat sheets of metal roofing which are waterproof, resistant to rust, mildew, mould and moss and do not have seams or breaks which allow moisture to seep in
- Steep pitched roofs allowing drainage
Best Roofs Windy Weather
Calgary and Southern Alberta experience extremely windy conditions compared to the rest of Canada. Though we often think that it is mainly severe weather systems like hurricanes which are most hazardous to roofs, even seemingly mild winds may have a negative impact which builds up over time. The slightest disruption or movement to roof tiles, shingles, panels, and metal sheets, caused by wind can leave your house defenseless against other unfavorable elements such as rain. Wind can cause tree limbs to be a destructive force to your home, in addition to other flying debris and tear your guttering.
Two of the most critical types of wind damage your roof is likely to sustain are from tornadoes and hurricanes.
These wind storms are especially frequent in Southern Ontario. The extreme winds from tornadoes can completely devastate homes within a mere few seconds, ripping off roofs and pulling apart walls.
Hurricanes & Tropical Storms
Uplift pressures, powerful force winds and heavy rainfall from hurricanes naturally pose a major risk to your home. Parts of Eastern Canada, bordering the Atlantic and Nova Scotia in particular are most at risk to the effects of these storms. Even more central areas such as Ontario also often experience heavy winds from hurricanes moving across North America.
In that case, which are the best roofs to protect your home from heavy gusts?
- A reinforced concrete roof – perhaps the best choice for withstanding hurricane and tornado winds
- Concrete tiles
- Metal sheets which are stronger against hurricane winds than shingles
- Rubber roofing
- Fiberglass shingles or composite shingles
- Clay tiles – these are excellent at resisting wind storms and even hurricane force winds
Conclusion: Adapting to Canada’s Fluctuating Weather
Most Canadians are aware of the extreme variations in weather the country can experience within short periods of time. A perfect example of one of the country’s most intense, record-breaking fluctuations would be the temperature climbing from 19ºC to 22ºC within just an hour in Pincher Creek, Alberta. Meanwhile, both the lowest and highest temperatures in the country’s history have been recorded in the city of Regina, which reach plummeted to 50ºC on January 1, 1885 yet climbed to a blistering 43.3ºC on July 5, 1937.
Perhaps, you’d like to find a roof which can adapt to seasonal variations in weather throughout the year, as is common throughout Canada. Some of the most versatile roofs are:
- Concrete stone tiles – they are strong against wind, rain, and heat
- Metal roofs– are excellent insulators regardless of external temperatures
- Slate tiles – while one of your most expensive options, they can withstand virtually any kind of weather
There’s no way to fully protect a roof against any kind of natural disaster. Nevertheless, it will certainly benefit you in the long term, with respect to costs, the time you’ll save and convenience, to be better prepared by choosing a weathertight roof.
Enjoyed this article? See Which is the Best Type of Roof for Me for more roof style advice.
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