Many Firestone roofing systems make it possible for you to continue roofing through winter. However, no roofing installation is complete without some considerations for the time of year — especially when temperatures start to dip.
Cold temperatures change the physical properties of almost every material you work with, plus how products must be handled during the install. Revisit Firestone's cold weather application guidelines and follow these cold weather tips for maximizing efficiency on your next winter roofing job.
Know the Right Product for the Season
FullForce™ EPDM Membranes
EPDM is a cold weather climate leader for commercial roofing membranes. As the EPDM Roofing Association points out, EPDM membranes generally remain flexible and pliable in extremely cold temperatures, and "in accordance with with ASTM standard D 746, EPDM membrane[s] [have] a brittleness temperature of -49 °F (-45 °C)."
When it comes to making the most of the roofing season, Firestone FullForce EPDM is your ideal solution. It's the only EPDM membrane that has a factory-applied adhesive across the entire surface, which is a feature that gives you more control over your roofing season in two ways. First, due to its adhesive bond strength, FullForce can be installed even when ambient and substrate temperatures exceed 20 °F (-7 °C). That's the power of SecureBond™ Technology. You can keep going in the cold. And second, FullForce installs 4.6x faster than a standard EPDM membrane* so you can install more squares in a day — even a winter day.
UltraPly™ TPO SA
UltraPly™ TPO Flex Adhered
Follow Best Practices for Material Care
Once you know you're working with the right cold weather product, follow best practices for material care in low temperatures.
Store all adhesives, sealants, primers, and coatings as close to room temperature — 60 °F (16 °C) and 80 °F (27 °C) — as possible. Do not allow products to freeze. If any characteristics of a material change during application in winter, pause and bring them back to room temperature.
Mixing and applying adhesives and sealants can be more challenging in winter, as low temperatures increase a material's viscosity (or thickness). Low temperatures can also cause solvents and solids to separate. Help minimize these challenges by keeping materials in storage until 1 to 4 hours before application or rotating materials between a warm storage area and the roof when dealing with extremely cold temperatures.
Watch the forecast and plan for longer open and drying times in cool or overcast conditions. Also, do not install any water-based product if freezing temperatures are expected within 24 hours of application, or 12 hours for solvent-free products.
Refer to the Technical Information Sheet for each product as well as the Cold Weather Application Guide to ensure each product’s specific requirements are being met.
Talk to Your Crew About These 4 Winter Installation Tips
Proper handling of materials is one thing, but the people doing the work are most important! Support your crew during a winter roofing job by encouraging them to:
- Wear Layers - To help prevent frigid fingers and toes, dress like a built-up roof system! BUR systems are made of alternating layers of asphalt and ply felts. Similarly, dress in layers that can be added or removed as the temperature changes. "There's no such thing as bad weather," says one Swedish maxim, "only bad clothes."
- Remove Ice - Ice can form any time, anywhere in cold, wet climates, and can be difficult to notice on a roof when you're focused on the job at hand. Before roof repair or installation, remove all ice and snow from the work surfaces, ladders, and other equipment.
- Stay Hydrated - Dehydration isn't just a concern in summer. It's also a winter roofing issue. "Sweat evaporates more rapidly in the cold, dry air, and that can result in dehydration," reports the Ithaca Journal. "Cooler temperature can also reduce the body's thirst response." Keep nourishing fluids on hand (and unfrozen) for crew members to drink, and remind them to take breaks to warm up and drink up.
- Allow for Extra Time - Give the crew enough time to get the job done right. Membranes will need to relax longer. Flash-off and dry times are longer in lower temperatures, and more tests will need to be performed through the application process to ensure proper adhesion.
At Firestone Building Products, we work with you to ensure your project goes smoothly. From the day it starts until long after it's finished, your project is our priority. Have questions about temperatures, product characteristics, or winter installation possibilities? Let's talk. Contact Firestone Building Products today.
*Testing shows that FullForce installs 4.6x faster than standard EPDM, as validated by a third party.
**To ensure TPO seams are properly welded when using an automatic welder, it is critical that test welds are completed: at daily start-up, when ambient conditions change, and when welding stops for a significant period of time (e.g., lunch breaks).