Best Shoes for Roofing Reviewed for Grip & Performance
One of the most contracted jobs in the USA is roofing, seeing that it takes a lot of guts to go up on a high roof, especially if it is steep, then start doing heavy duty construction work. Not only does this type of job require you to be brave, physically fit and well trained, but it also requires you to be completely in the know about how to keep yourself absolutely safe, without doing any damage to the roof you are standing on. What this means is that, like any other professional contractor, you need professional equipment that will keep you safe, will provide you with plenty of grips, and that will allow you a full range of motion, stability, and comfort so that you can finish your work in time and without any unnecessary discomfort. But finding the best pair of shoes to use for roofing work is not a simple task. There are various factors that will influence your choice such as climate, type of roof or shingles, the slope of the roof, your level of comfort at walking on roofs etc. Our list of 10 best shoes for roofing will give you several different options for roofing work footwear, making it easier to choose your next pair of work shoes.
If you ask 10 contractors about the type of footwear they will wear when doing roofing work, you will receive ten different answers, as everyone’s needs are quite personal. There are, however, a few things you need to think about – is roofing something you will be doing just this once, and you want to be safe, or is it your main source of income? As with any other professional gear, professional roofing shoes will come at a considerable price. But there are other, excellent alternatives that many professionals prefer to actual roofing shoes. Many will use skateboard shoes with a flat foot as these are specially made to provide grip and protect feet from the board. In addition, they are lightweight, can take a beating, and will last you a considerable time. Others prefer basketball shoes as their high top gives better ankle support and stability.
But, it’s also possible that you need to do roofing work in the winter, which may include rain or snow, so, the level and type of traction you get is quite different. Boots can work better in these conditions as they also offer warmth, and usually come with soles that will grip wet surfaces. Of course, let’s not exclude the possibility that you already have a favorite pair of work boots, and that you are quite happy with wearing an overshoe that provides the grip and traction you need, while you get to keep the comfort and upper protection of your favorite pair of footwear. No matter which category you fall into, this article will give you plenty of choices for shoes to wear when doing roofing work.
10 Best Shoes for Roofing
1. Merrell Moab Ventilator 2
These hiking boots will give you some serious grip on all kinds of surfaces. Whether we are talking about flat roofs with a lot of loose gravel or asphalt shingles with quite a slope, these soles will have you stick to the surface like you need to. They provide just enough flexibility so that you can do everything you need to, and you can move without any constrictions, while also providing with a great performance in all types of extreme temperatures.
Made for Comfort
The upper of these shoes is made out of leather suede and mesh that have been developed for high performance on long hikes. The mesh allows for plenty of breathabilities, giving you the airflow you require on hot days. An air cushion in the heel area absorbs shock when walking, while a nylon shank in the sole takes care of stability - although, those who prefer a really flexible shoe will not be a fan of this addition.
Cost and Value
For such a high-quality product, these shoes cost surprisingly little. Nonetheless, they still rank quite high on this list for the price, but that’s to be expected of professional hiking gear. These boots are an excellent choice for those who need a reliable shoe that allows mobility, has excellent grip, is durable and breathable. If you know you’ll be working in winter time, make sure to choose the mid or high version with added waterproofing.
- Great for Flat Arches
- Vibram Outsole
- Deep Lugs
- Odor Resistant Lining
- Contoured EVA foam Footbed
- Waterproof Models Cost More
2. Vans Old Skool Classic
The outsoles of these sneakers are made out of vulcanized rubber that provides wearers with excellent flexibility and a superior grip. In addition to keeping you slip-free when working on big heights, these will also be your top choice as they don’t leave marks on hot shingles, making sure you do not damage the roof you are working on.
Comfortable Canvas Upper
The fact that these have a canvas upper means that they will easily mold to your feet, while also providing you with a high level of breathability, and excellent mobility. The low ankle means that your style of walking on a roof surface won’t be compromised, allowing you to do your best work. Furthermore, these shoes can withstand quite a beating, meaning you won’t have a pair of sneakers with a detached sole or with holes in the upper.
Cost and Value
The Vans Old Skool Classic can be a steal at certain styles and sizes, which makes it the perfect pair of shoes if you are just getting into roofing. They’ll give you a good grip, plenty of mobility, won’t weigh you down and will keep you cool enough even in the hot summer sun.
- Safe on Hot Shingles
- Vulcanized Rubber Outsole
- Breathable Canvas Upper
- Unisex Style
- Runs Narrow
- Lacks Arch Support
3. Timberland PRO Barstow
These outsoles were made specifically for professionals who spend a lot of time on their feet. They include Goodyear® Welt construction for a durable mechanical bond, a shock absorbing, energy returning EVA midsole for cushioning, antimicrobial treatment for odor control and Dual-density Dynamic Anti-Fatigue Technology which returns energy to the feet at key pressure points while maximizing breathability and moisture control.
Electrical Hazard Protection
These work boots are great if your work requires you to do more than just roofing, as they provide an overall higher level of safety. In addition to the rubber sole which is abrasion, slip and oil resistant, they will also protect you in environments where you might be exposed to an electrical hazard. They meet ASTM F2412-11, ASTM F2413-11, and ASTM F2892-11 electrical hazard standards, meaning that you can work around electrical components with a peace of mind.
Cost and Value
As a pair of leather work boots made for professionals with various features, these shoes by Timberland don’t come cheap. They are comfortable enough to spend all day in them, while also providing you with a durable fit. If you are looking for an overall work boot that you can also use for roofing, these are an excellent choice.
- All-Surface Traction
- Shock Absorbing
- Safe Lacing System
- Electrical Hazard Protection
- Full-Grain Leather Upper
- Will Need Breaking In
4. Georgia G8162
The waterproofing system used in these boots provides you with a breathable shoe that won’t let any water in, no matter the circumstances. Even if you have to work in sub-zero degree weather, your feet will remain dry and warm with just a single pair of wool socks.
High Quality Soles
The soles of these shoes are made with Goodyear® welt construction and feature an orthotic insert made out of polyurethane that you can keep or remove depending on your cushioning and support needs. They do have a downside, which is a steel shank that helps these boots retain their shape for a long time, but makes them less flexible, meaning that you might not like using them on sloped roofs.
Cost and Value
If you are looking for a cheap pair of boots to use occasionally for roofing, you might want to skip these. They come at quite a steep price, as the insulation, waterproofing and one year warranty against defects will keep you knowing that you made a good investment. In addition, if your job requires you to climb steep roofs even in wet and snowy conditions, you should look into other options as these aren’t as flexible as we would prefer them to be.
- 100% Waterproof Leather Upper
- Welted Construction
- Good Traction on Snow
- High Top
- Removable Orthotic Insoles
- Steel Shank in Sole
5. Ever Boots Protector
The upper of these shoes is made out of full grain leather that is attached to the sole with Seal-Direct Attached Construction technology. The waterproof membrane will keep all liquids from entering the boot, while still allowing for heat generated moisture to escape. The mesh is insulated and has moisture wicking properties to keep you dry and warm even the coldest weather.
More Flexible than Most Work Boots
The soles of these boots are made out of a rubber with excellent traction properties, but what makes them special is the fact that they create flex points on your feet, allowing for better movement. They will do quite well in absorbing shock due to the durable polyurethane midsoles which will keep you comfortable even if you have to be on your feet all day long.
Cost and Value
This pair of boots is the most affordable pair of professional work shoes on our list. They provide excellent quality and durability, with the added advantages of insulation and waterproofing. You will love them for the flexible soles that can prove to be good even on sloped roofs.
- Affordable price and thirty day warranty
- Insulated and Waterproof
- Flexible Rubber Outsole
- Moisture Wicking Lining
- Shock Absorbing Properties
- Complicated Sizing
- Lacks Heel Support
6. Adidas Busenitz
These shoes feature double layers in the upper. The first one is made out of leather that is breathable and molds to your feet easily, while the top layer is nubuck which adds durability you’ll definitely appreciate on asphalt roofs. These shoes are extra durable throughout the toe, tongue, and heel, but still allow for plenty of mobility, so you can safely find your footing on any slope.
adidas Spezial Outsole
Originally developed for handball players who need an excellent grip on indoor courts, the Adidas Spezial outsole features deep and circular grooves that will keep you safe on all types of surfaces. The pattern is deep, and this comes with two very important benefits: the first is that it provides better sole flexibility for finding your footing on steep slopes. The other is that the profile of the shoe will remain intact throughout its lifetime.
Cost and Value
These shoes come at an excellent price, especially if you compare them to some other high performing work boots appropriate for use on roofs. The fact that they have a durable upper and outsole means that you won’t have to replace them too often, while the molded sockliner and Geofit padded collar allow for a comfortable long-wearing fit.
- Leather and Nubuck Upper
- Rubber Outsole
- Flexible and Durable
- Padded Collar
- Secure Lace-Up Closure
- Will Require Breaking In
- Lack Ventilation
7. Thorogood American Heritage
The outsole of these shoes was made so as to keep you from slipping on any surface, whether it’s wet, muddy, grassy or just slick. With this superior grip, you can rest assured that you will stay safe even if you have to work on sloped roofs and on great heights in less than perfect conditions. Furthermore, the insole was given just as much thought as the outsole, as it features a memory foam footbed which can be removed and replaced should you need your own custom orthotics.
The upper is made out of Briar pitstop Leather that you can get in five different colors should you want a specific look for your work boots. They feature an X-STREAM waterproof membrane and were made using Goodyear storm welt construction that will keep these work boots on your feet for a long time. One of the things we like about these boots is that they feature a safety toe that will come in handy if you happen to drop some of your tools but can also be purchased without this feature.
Cost and Value
Regardless of size and style, unlike most other shoes on this list, these will cost you quite a lot. The kind of quality you can expect from Thorogood does not come cheap, especially if made in the USA by workers who are paid fair wages for their time. But, if you’re looking for a good investment, then these 8” work boots are the perfect choice for your next pair of roofing boots.
- Waterproof Leather Upper
- Excellent Traction
- Safety Toe
- Made in the USA
- Removable Memory Foam Insole
- Stitching Is Weak Point
8. Georgia Boot Loggers G7313
These 8 inch boots are great because the padded collar will softly support your ankles, without you having to worry about developing blisters or sore spots. The insole is made out of a comfort cushion that will help you get through long days on the job, while the removable polyurethane insert will give you the arch support that you require.
Safety Outsole and Steel Toe
The outsole of these shoes is made out of abrasion resistant rubber with a Georgia Logger style sole. In addition, they meet the ASTM F2413 electrical hazard standard, as well as the ASTM F2413 protective toe classification. The steel shank helps with the durability of these work boots, while the eyelets, and hooks are sure to stay put as they were set on steel washers.
Cost and Value
This pair of work boots by Georgia does not come at a cheap price, but they do provide you with quite a few features and superior quality and comfort. Before purchasing, however, you need to closely look at the type of roofs you will be working on (if possible), then decide whether it is worth investing this much money in one pair of boots.
- Waterproof and Insulated
- Steel Toe and Stability Shank
- Abrasion Resistant Rubber Outsole
- ASTM F2413 Electrical Hazard Standard
- 8 inch Height
- Very Heavy
- Narrow Toe Area
9. Pajar Trooper Boot
These cold weather boots are an excellent choice for roofing because they are so much more lightweight than most work boots on this list. They weigh 1lb 12oz per shoe which means that you won’t get too tired from walking in these for a while day, and in addition, they have a removable memory foam insole that provides excellent support, especially if you have medium arches. The lining is made out of a wool blend and is sure to keep you well heated even on the coldest of days.
Unique Rubber Outsole
The outsole on these shoes is made out of synthetic rubber that does not have grooves which are too deep. What this means is that there is more material on the bottom of the shoe in contact with the surface underfoot, allowing you to have a better grip even on slight slopes. In addition, as there is no possibility of dirt and debris getting stuck in the grooves, you will keep the same level of traction throughout the day when wearing these boots.
Cost and Value
Depending on the style and size you choose, these boots can cost you quite a bit. If you know that you need a pair of roofing boots for extremely cold weather conditions where you will need waterproofing and plenty of insulation, then these boots are an excellent choice. If, however, you are looking for something that is more suitable for all year wear and good traction, you may want to skip these for a different pair of roofing shoes.
- Wool Blend Lining
- Removable Memory Foam Insole
- Good Traction on Snow and Ice
- 7” Height for Ankle Stability
- Lacks Heel Support
- Zipper Side Closure
10. STABILicers Walk Traction
One of the most important aspects of the STABILicers is the fact that they can be worn with any size and shape of shoe. Designed with a tension fit system, these overshoes will work with any pair of shoes you own, be they boots, sneakers or something in between. This is also an excellent feature as complicated sizing systems are eliminated, so you can just focus on being comfortable, while these will take care of keeping you safe.
The Thermo Plastic Elastomer these overshoes are made out of (TPE) is lightweight and very stretchy, but more importantly, it was tested to remain flexible in temperatures as low as -45 degrees Fahrenheit. The cleats that cover the full sole of the heel and forefoot will keep you from slipping on snow, ice or any other surface where you simply need a better grip.
Cost and Value
Although they are not exactly cheap, these overshoes are still one of the cheapest items on this list. The reason why they could be the perfect solution for you is if you already have a pair of work shoes that you wear, and need them to have some additional traction in the winter, then you can just slip on the STABILicers and you’re good to go.
- Aggressive Cleats
- Works With Any Pair of Shoes
- Safe Down To -45°Fahrenheit
- Safe to Use
- Easy to Put On
- Runs Small
- Could Potentially Break Off
And that’s it, our top ten choices for shoes and boots if you are looking for a pair of roofing shoes. Whichever of these ten you choose, you are sure to get a good product, the only thing you have to do is decide whether it’s the right product for your needs. While some people prefer a sturdy work boot with a Vibram sole and plenty of ankle support, others will prefer to go for a skateboarding shoe that will do well with asphalt shingles and metal roofs. Some people even prefer to do their roofing work without any shoes on, in just socks, but that’s a whole different story. It’s extremely important that you choose the correct fit with your shoes, that you make sure they are securely tied, and that you feel comfortable and flexible enough in them to do some serious climbing. For any additional information, you can read our Criteria for Evaluation section where we break down the different aspects of roofing shoes or check out the Frequently Asked Questions to see what other users are asking about this type of footwear.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Shoes for Roofing
If you are in the market for a pair of roofing shoes, you need to know that not all are created equal. While some manufacturers will produce shoes made for this purpose specifically, the fact that this is a job which requires a lot of stability and safety, it is best to go with what you feel most comfortable in. This is mainly because everyone’s style of climbing roofs is different, just like everyone’s walking gait cycle is different. In addition, the type of shoes that work for one type of roof might not do as well on another. You need to consider the incline of the roof, as well as the material it’s made of. Furthermore, you need to have in mind that different weather conditions will affect the surface below your feet, and may alter your grip. So, it’s not entirely impossible that you won’t be able to wear your sturdy work boots both in the summer and winter months, just like a pair of good skateboarding shoes will probably not be a good choice for roofing in the winter.
When making our top ten choices, we looked at several criteria, in addition to user reviews. If you feel like you need to be more in the know when it comes to roofing shoes, then you can read on, and see exactly the features that you need to look for in your next pair of work footwear.
The most important aspect of a pair of shoes you intend to use for roofing is the outsole. This is the part that will be in contact with the roof, and that will not only be making sure you are safely on your feet, but that can also keep you from doing any damage to sensitive shingles or metal roofs.
First and foremost, you need to look at the grip a pair of shoes will give you. Having a non-slip outsole is imperative, and even though not all will be labeled as non-slip, it’s a good feature to start with. Skateboarding and tennis shoes are excellent, as they will do well with asphalt shingles and metal roofs, and won’t cause any damage. Flat soled basketball shoes and even Converse are good, as these have similarly grippy soles that give you a big surface in contact with the roof, and are made out of the right materials to keep you from slipping. But, it is also possible that you won’t be working on sloped roofs, or that you are expected to work in cold environments. This is where work boots come into play. Hiking boots are an excellent option, as they can work with both hot and cold conditions. If you are looking at potentially climbing on wet roofs or even ones with snow and ice on them, then the pair of shoes you choose needs to be designed for this type of surface. Adding cleats is a good option, as some overshoes will give you the needed extra grip, while your regular pair of shoes can take care of the flexibility, stability and warmth levels you require to do your job.
Another thing that you need to consider is how flexible a sole is. Again, your requirements will depend on the type of roof you are working on, but overall it is good to have more flexible shoes for bigger inclines, as this will help you find your footing more easily. Some work boots have a steel shank which is there to offer safety on construction sites as well as to improve durability, but you need to note that this solution might not be the right one for you if you are working on bigger slopes.
Finally, there is the question of sole composition. Roofing materials can be quite sensitive, with shingles not being able to bear much weight and metal roofs being easily marked. It is very important that you choose the right pair of shoes so as not to damage the roof you’re walking on, otherwise, you might be looking at financial losses. Non-marking soles are an excellent place to start so that you can be assured that there won’t be any unwanted marks on the surface you are walking on.
The pair of shoes you opt for when working on such great heights need to make you safe so that you don’t suffer an injury on the job. That’s where the level of support comes into play. Although some people prefer a barely-there shoe when roofing as they need to be more mobile, others will need to feel safe. You might want to look into boots that will cover your ankles and thus stabilize them. This can prevent sprains and pulls, and give you peace of mind and a much-needed sense of security that’s crucial on great heights. The lacing system of your shoes is extremely important as well. You need to be absolutely sure that your laces won’t come undone or break while you are working, so even if you bought the most expensive pair of shoes on the market, you need to take a close look at the laces, and if necessary swap them for a sturdy and safe pair. Laces are what will be keeping your shoes safely on your feet, and any looseness can result in serious injury.
While some users prefer a snug fit, others, especially those who work with bigger inclines, will need to be able to move their feet in any and all directions. The mobility your shoes provide you can be crucial in finding the right footing, so before making a purchase you need to consider your needs and roofing style. Sneakers are excellent because of the low top they will have, and the softer upper that will allow you to place your feet in a much more versatile way than boots. However, they do have a downside, which is reflected in the reduced ankle stability some roofers need. Hi-top sneakers could prove to be a good choice for some users, as they combine a softer upper with support.
The materials used to make your next pair of roofing shoes are quite important seeing that they will determine the durability, fit, support and protection you get from those shoes. Leather is one of the best materials you can opt for, seeing that it is a material that is more difficult to puncture or rip, thus offering you more protection than thin canvas. It is also a good choice as it is breathable and flexible enough to allow you to move freely. Suede is another good choice, as it can take a beating. Asphalt shingles, for example, have proven to be quite rough on shoes, and they will probably ruin most footwear. Suede used on skateboarding shoes was made to be in contact with the decks of skateboards which are often covered in a material that resembles sandpaper, so you can rest assured they won’t just rip and fall apart. Finally, you can also opt for canvas shoes, as they will provide you with plenty of flexibility and breathability, but won’t do well with protecting you from falling objects, and will most likely wear out faster than other materials. If you are looking at doing roofing in varying weather conditions, it is a good idea to have more than just one pair of shoes ready for this task, as colder temperatures will not only require you to adjust the grip beneath your feet but also the level of insulation you require to be able to keep working and staying safe.
Construction and Quality
The footwear you choose to do roofing work in needs to be constructed according to the highest standards, providing you with the best possible quality. This is not only important because of the amount of time you need your shoes to last, but also because you simply cannot have the soles of your shoes falling off while you’re doing work on a roof where you rely on your shoes on keeping you safe. Overall, this level of quality is reflected in the prices you will find for roofing shoes. It is not uncommon for these shoes to have steep prices, and it’s important to consider the fact that due to damage from roofing materials, they may need to be replaced every few months. Overall, it is best not to try and cut any financial corners on this aspect of your business, and keep in mind that you are paying for a product that is preventing you from falling, injuring yourself or worse. If, however, you are someone who is looking at doing their own roofing and need a pair of shoes that you will use for one occasion, you can opt for one of the more budget-friendly models on this list that will do the job, keep you safe, but won’t break the bank.
Fit and Comfort
Finally, it is important that your roofing shoes fit well and are comfortable enough so that you can spend prolonged periods of time wearing them. When it comes to fit, you need to be looking at something that will allow you to move with ease, and that won’t constrict your feet, but also a pair of shoes that won’t be too big for you as this could lead to sprains and other types of injury. When you choose the correct size and width, you also need to make sure your roofing shoes aren’t rubbing your feet in any spots, or that you won’t develop blisters as these will prevent you from doing what you need to do. If you are not certain how a pair of shoes will perform fit-wise, it is best to wear them around the house and break them in before taking them up to any roof. Alternatively, you can use quality socks and moleskin tape to protect the areas of your feet you know to get irritated easily.
When it comes to comfort, it’s crucial that you have the correct arch and heel support so that you don’t experience any pain, while padding in the upper is also a good thing to have. Some shoes are made with removable orthotics, so you may want to look into those if you require that kind of feature. Otherwise, you can look at purchasing shoes with gel or memory foam insoles that will provide some level of shock absorption, will be cushioned and won’t harm your feet. An alternative is to get your own insoles that you know you like, and put them in your next pair of shoes. Just make sure that your shoes are big enough to fit any of these (you might need to go half a size up in some cases).
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How are roofing shoes different from regular work boots?
A: When looking at roofing shoes, you need all the benefits of a work boot such as various safety features, but you also need the shoes to allow you to move in certain ways. In addition, you need a better grip on the surface below your feet, which may not always be provided by regular work boots.
Q: Is there any type of footwear I shouldn’t wear for roofing work?
A: Definitely! Stay away from slippers, flip-flops, sandals, and anything with flimsy straps that may snap while you are wearing them. Furthermore, you need to skip running shoes and any other soft-soled shoes as these will easily wear down on rough and hot surfaces, and won’t give you enough grip for you to stay safe. Lastly, you need to skip shoes that are extremely heavy or don’t provide sufficient traction for obvious reasons of safety.
Q: What other types of shoes, besides roofing shoes, will work for this activity?
A: You can look into skateboarding shoes, as a lot of roofers will use them for the good traction and protection they offer. You can also look into tennis shoes, flat soled basketball shoes, boots with Vibram soles or boots that have non-slip properties. Some roofers look for non-slip shoes made for serving and kitchen staff, which is also a good place to look if you’re not entirely sure what it is you need. An excellent alternative is overshoes or cleats that you can strap to any of your existing shoes, and that will give you the traction you need, especially in snowy and icy conditions.