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We’ve all been there: you’re on a roof, and you need to get to something. What do you do? You could go down and get a ladder, but that takes time. And who knows when the person who’s supposed to be fixing the leak will show up?
So what do you do? You grab some shoes—but which ones?
You know what’s not a good choice? Sneakers. They’re not designed for gripping or stability, so if you slip off the edge of the roof and fall off, you might end up with a broken wrist or ankle. That’s no good!
What about sandals? They have their place (namely, the beach), but they don’t offer much protection from debris or sharp objects on a rooftop. Plus, they aren’t waterproof! So unless you want your feet to get wet and cold—not exactly ideal conditions when climbing around on top of a building in wintertime—we’d advise staying away from sandals.
That leaves us with sneakers and boots as our best options for avoiding slips while out and about on top of buildings. Sneakers are generally more comfortable than boots because they don’t have any extra padding or support features like stiffened heels or arch supports
Best Shoes To Wear On a Roof
From roofing boots to sports-inspired work footwear-Here are our “best shoes for roofing”
From traditional blue-collar, steel-toed roofing boots for burly brutes to high-priced indestructible, closed-toed sandals that any hipster would envy, roofing footwear offers a truly diverse landscape of choices.
The most important features of roofer shoes
What is it that roofers look for in on-the-job footwear? Is it ankle support for long periods of time spent on sloped surfaces? Is it soles that offer extreme grip? Is it light-weight material that helps reduce leg fatigue? Or is it style?
Your feet need to be comfortable, that goes without saying, but other features in a roofer shoe may be equally important to you. Even foot-forward fashion might play a role in your decision. Take for example the Invincible Soldier work shoes (see below) which sport a cool, camouflage look, while having other virtues to boot!
Actual boots may not be at the top of your list, although for safety and ankle support, many workers prefer that traditional high top footwear for the tough job of installing a roof. Instead, conventional sneakers might be the way to go for some roofing pros. After all, athletic footwear is usually made to grip the road, the track, or the court, right?
If you’re working in hot weather and need roofing shoes that are breathable, you’ll be surprised to find that certain sandal-style shoes might be okay for the job of roofing, although iRoofing doesn’t recommend any footwear without adequate toe protection and strong support for your feet. As for hi-tech roofing pros who use iRoofing software to measure and estimate from off-site locations with the aid of satellite, airplane, and drone imagery it’s whatever footwear suits your role! Are you acting as a salesperson to close a roof sale? Are you presenting a project to a property owner online? Or are you going to be working on a roof?
Safety is Paramount. Good roofer shoes are key
When you’re on-the-job, safety is priority #1 and that’s why the choice of footwear is a serious matter. iRoofing appreciates the fact that roofing is ranked as the riskiest job in the building industry with the 4th highest fatality rate per capita of any occupation (45.2 accidental deaths per 100,000 workers). According to the National Safety Council, in 2017 there were 91 fatalities and 2,810 injuries due to slips and falls on roofing jobs.
The iRoofing mobile DIY app was developed to reduce risk among roofers by reducing the time they need to spend on rooftops. By making it capable to perform precise roof measurements and accurate estimates using satellite, aerial, and drone imagery, roofing pros can avoid climbing roofs until it’s time to do the installation. Arguably, remote roof measurement solutions like iRoofing are as important as protective footwear, steep slope harnesses, and good tools.
“Occupations with the highest fatality rates tend to have one of three things in common: they involve working from dangerous heights where a fall would be fatal, frequent contact with dangerous machinery or driving for substantial periods,” said Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council. Roofing involves all of those risks and iRoofing reduces them all.
OSHA & ANSI Care about your Feet
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes general regulations and guidelines for employers regarding protective footwear, not based on the specific industry one works in, but rather the unique conditions of one’s workplace. The administration states: “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will protect the affected employee from an electrical hazard…” While a variety of non-roofing occupations are mentioned specifically, roofing is not listed by OSHA as one of the occupations in which special consideration should be given to protective footwear, but its safe to assume steel toed shoes are essential attire on any construction site where piercing objects, like nails are prevalent.
- The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) spells out certain performance standards for products used in workplaces, including footwear. The organization judges the safety of footwear based mainly on compression tests, impact tests, and the construction of the sole in preventing punctures.
Here, we’ll break down our favorite footwear in each category – boots; shoes; athletic footwear; hiking shoes and, yes, even sandals. Most brands carry both men and women’s styles. So lady roofers, if you see a shoe you like in our list, shop the brand website for your color and size.
We tried to find the crème de la crème of roofing boots. Get ready because what we found were not all household brand names. For example, have you ever heard of Rock Roosters? That said, big brands can serve you well too, from Sears Craftsman to Timberland. Any boot helps with ankle support, which can be an issue when you’re walking around roofs for a living.
Cougar Paw “Performer Boot”
Designed with roofers in mind, made-in-America Cougar Paws are tough boots that feature patented, replaceable traction pads. These boots are great for roofing contractors, insurance adjusters, estimators and anyone else working on inclines.
Thorogood Steel Toe Boot
American-made boots by Thorogood are top-of-the-line. We liked the style 804-6201-GWP503 because it looks cool. It’s a no-nonsense boot in a stylish black leather upper, white stitching and a patented, slip & oil resistant polyurethane outsole.
Rock Rooster Pull-On Work Boot
With its composite toecap, slip resistance, electrical hazard protection, and rubber outsole we like the Rock Rooster Pull On work boot. We also like the style. It’s reminiscent of Beatle boots! You know those mod, ankle-high pull-ons that the Fab Four used to wear.
Georgia Boot Michelin® Latitude Tour Alloy
Impact testing determines the amount of protection to the toe under various foot pounds of force. Compression testing determines the amount of static pressure a steel/composite toe cap can withstand. The Michelin® Latitude boots by Georgia Boot Company meet the highest impact & compression standards. With their alloy safety toe, these boots are designed to protect your feet from impacts by heavy objects that may fall, slip, or roll while you’re performing roof work. They’re also lightweight with a breathable mesh upper, removable orthotic, memory foam insole, and a slip-resistant rubber outsole.
ROOFERS’ WORK SHOES
Not all roofers go for traditional over-the-ankle boots. Footwear that leaves the ankle free to flex and allows the sole of the foot to rest flatly on an incline is arguably a safer way to maneuver around a roof during an installation or repair job. So, footwear for construction work is often a conventional shoe made tough enough to withstand heavy activity in all sorts of conditions.
Rockport “Kingstin” Work Shoe
These may not be fit for any red carpet gala, but we like the Rockport Kingstin because they’re simple and practical. It’s a regular slip-on Oxford look, but these work shoes are ideal for roofers because they have a comfortable nylon mesh insole, a shock absorbing heel pad and footbed, along with a slip-resistant outsole. They’re water resistant, too.
Timberland “Pro Reaxion”
This shoe is high on our list of all time favs. Its design has hints of a cutting-edge Nike track shoe with different textures and a cool colored sole. There’s no reason why these wouldn’t fit right into your date-night attire or for weekend workouts. It’s imported but that’s OK… Timberlands have a great reputation for toughness.
Red Wing “King Toe”
There’s something about this style and this brand, Red Wing, that conveys a sense that you can be trusted. The King Toe has a friendly, “that’s-my-favorite-contractor” look to them. Clean, black, seemingly impervious to any conditions you can throw at it, the Red Wing King Toe is immune to criticism.
NEW ADDITION! The Brunt “Ryng Low”
With a name like “Brunt” it has to be tough. The company’s “Ryng Low” work shoe is packed with tough features including heel guards, safety toes, and ladder grip lugs. But what we like most about these roofing boots is that they’re lightweight and designed for the unique positions and movements of a roofing pro. You don’t need to feel weighed down when you’re at work up on a high roof. Get all-day comfort and protection with the “Ryng Low” by Brunt.
Athletic-Style Footwear For Roofers
You’re the Usain Bolt of the roofing world, so it’s time to step out in a pair of cool, highly functional, light and comfortable athletic-style roofing footwear! You’ll feel like you can leap tall buildings in a single bound with these sporty super-shoes.
Caterpillar “Raider Sport”
How does Caterpillar always manage to make products that look just like bulldozers? Maybe it’s the brilliant yellow branding that does the trick. We really like these Caterpillar Raider Sport roofing shoes for a number of reasons. These backhoes for your toes are fantastic not only for their Catty style but for the soft, breathable mesh lining, PVC midsole, and lightweight flexibility.
For the hunter, the angler, the veteran, or just those who want to blend in, the Invincible Soldier commands your attention. Take a look at the camo design of these rugged roofing shoes. Invincible nailed it! These puppies are full of features… made from military grade kevlar; thick, comfortable, puncture-proof soles; steel toes, and they’re slip resistance.
Ticcoon – Steel Toe & Kevlar
How do you combine a really lightweight shoe with the protection needed to work on roofs safely? Scientists have been trying to figure that out since the dawn of time. Well, a relative newcomer to our list of great construction and roofing footwear is the Ticcoon steel toe shoe with a puncture-resistant Kevlar midsole. The specially engineered sole can protect feet from being impaled on sharp objects like nails, exposed rebar, raggedly-cut sheet metal flashing, and the like. Plus, the Ticcoon is an ultralight safety shoe with breathable fly-knit uppers.
HIKING-STYLE FOOTWEAR FOR ROOFING
Keen “Flint Ill Sport”
Keen has always been tops on the leaderboard when it comes to durable outdoor style. We like these hiking-style work shoes by one of the biggest names in outdoor footwear because they have a subtle hard-working outer look with summit-scaling performance DNA.
A worthy competitor to Keen, Merrell refuses to be outdone. While their Yokota shoe looks a little more like something you’d see around the campfire, don’t be fooled – they’re tough as roofing nails. We like the hook lacing system because you can tie them up in a split second. They have a contoured insole and specially-designed tongue that keeps debris from creeping in.
Roof Sandals Shoes
Keen Targhee Ill Sandal
Finally, we wrap up this article with a rather unlikely consideration for roofing pros – sandals! Always keep in mind that OSHA requirements should be followed, but take a close look at these Keen Targhee III sandal-style shoes and you’ll see why we included them in our list. First of all, they cover your feet pretty thoroughly but rank as a “sandal” because of their open strap design. Cool in more ways than one, right? And check out that toe protection. If you’re a roofer who hates hot, sweaty feet, you may slip into these breezy babies and you’ll be all set.
Granted, we left out some great brands, including Wolverine roofing boots, Eddie Bauer footwear for construction jobs, Steel Edge boots for roofing and construction, SafetyGirl boots for women, Carhartt, Ariat, and many more. We know these brands make some great footwear for roofers too, so to each his own. What’s most important is that you feel you got a good value on a comfortable, durable pair of protective boots, shoes, or sneakers for your roofing life.