Roofing is not a job you can do barefoot! If you have OSHA breathing down your neck, you can’t even do it in regular street shoes. You need something tough enough to take on every and any sort of abuse and all kinds of extreme temperatures but is still comfortable enough for you to walk on hard surfaces. You need something with a flat, slip-resistant sole, preferably shockproof. By “shockproof” this means both physical and electrical.
A roof is full of tripping hazards such as debris, leaves, branches, tools, loose tiles, and building materials. The work requires exposure to harsh chemicals. Because you, the roofing constructor are on your feet at practically all times you will need a boot with the premium amount of comfort and support for your feet that will last all through the day.
How To Buy Roofing Boots
Work boots are not cheap, but they can be a worthy investment. Comparison shopping is a vital necessity when searching for the best boots for roofing. You might complain about how long it takes your wife to find a good pair of shoes, but in this case, it is not just fashion. This could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Always keep in mind that your feet will swell after a day of hard work. Lifehack: Wait until the end of a day of working, shopping, and running errands to try your boots. Your feet will be a bit swollen, giving you a better idea of what the boots will feel like at the end of the day.
Primarily, you need a comfortable boot, something that won’t hurt your feet. You need something that will ensure all of the comfort and support features that you will require to work on your feet for long periods. You also need something that won’t hurt the roof you’re fixing! No point in trying to fix a roof if your boots just do even more damage.
The treads must be thin with no deep lugs. Keep in mind that a roof can get sizzling hot in the summer and glacially cold in the winter. This means you need boots that can withstand extremes. Most of the roofing pros have a pair they use for hot weather and a pair for cold or wet weather. The laces should tie up properly and not present a tripping hazard.
When you are in the market for the best roofing boots, you will come across many brands and models that are manufactured to meet the roofer’s needs. Here is a list of the five boots that we believe will help you perform your job safely and efficiently.
1. Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Moc 6″ Boot
- The foundation for this rugged, yet debonair moc-toe boot is a crepe wedge.
- It is resistant to stains and perspiration. It features a thick, treaded outsole and a waterproof leather upper.
- Even the laces are made of leather.
- The Traction Tred features a rubber outsole.
- Its strength and durability come from the Norwegian welt construction.
- Save for a synthetic rubber sole, these shoes are made completely of leather.
- The heel is a sensible inch thick.
- The platform measures approximately three-quarters of an inch thick.
- The shaft measures about five and a half inches from the arch.
- The crescent-shaped toe stitching was inspired by the way the North American Algonquin Natives constructed their moccasins.
- Comes in Oro Legacy, Briar Oil Slick, Black Harness, Charcoal Rough, and Tough, Navy Portage, Copper Rough and Tough, Oro-Russet Portage, Brown and Copper.
- There’s a reason Red Wing is a favorite among those in construction.
- This particular pair stands up to a lot of use and abuse, making it well worth what you have invested in them.
- These durable boots are made of 100% leather, making them very waterproof as well as resistant to stains and perspiration.
- They were proudly made in the USA using the most quality of craftsmanship and old-school hand sewn methods.
- Every shoe is individually examined to make sure that it rates up to Red Wing’s high standards.
- The more you wear them, the more they’ll become customized to your foot.
- The uppers provide excellent support and protection for the ankles.
- The leather interior wicks away moisture.
- The sole is replaceable.
- They tend to run a half or sometimes up to a whole size larger than ordinary.
- While being pure leather means a rugged boot, it will take some time to break in.
- You may need to condition them like a baseball glove to get them to feel right.
- Even then, they will always be a bit on the snug side, but this may be what you need.
- They are not comfortable enough for standing and walking all day but might work if you kneel a lot.
- The sizing tends to be a bit fussy on this style.
- It may be best to try it on in a brick and mortar store than to order it online.
- There is a reason the sole is replaceable. It wears through rather easily.
2. Thorogood Men’s American Heritage Wedge Sole Soft Toe Roofer Boot
- This boot provides you with all the safety features needed for roofing construction work as well as additional comfort features and breathability.
- This is a hardy and dependable work boot that will aid you in performing at your pique level and will serve you well for many years to come.
- Its superb durability is due to Goodyear Storm Welt construction.
- These boots are manufactured from oil-tanned genuine leather that will keep its appearance even through repeated hard use.
- The midsole is made of rubber.
- The cotton drill vamp in the boot’s interior does the job of wicking away moisture and will keep your feet comfortable and dry all day long.
- It comes in brown, dark brown, and tan.
- This boot comes with a Christy Blown Rubber Wedge outsole that is slip-resistant on every variety of surfaces providing the peace of mind and unshakable security required by very roof workers.
- The craftsmanship is well above par with heavy-duty stitching.
- The Wedge sole is slip-resistant.
- It is made in the USA and is both electric hazard resistant and slip-resistant.
- For those of you who need a wider size, the Thorogood is available in wider widths up to 2E.
- A Dual Density Ultimate Shock Absorption Footbed that rests on Poron gives you a spring action with every step you take.
- It will absorb shock to prevent strain on your legs and ankles for those times when you are on your feet for very long periods.
- The flexible soles make them easy to walk in.
- There is not much variety in color choice, coming in only three shades of brown. (Oh well, these are work boots, not prom shoes.)
- Also, like any leather product, it requires a breaking in period and some maintenance.
- The seems especially are at first unyielding, meaning it will be some time before they become very comfortable.
- But once you get there, there you are! Some people find the arch support a little lacking.
- This is a fairly deep boot that may fit a little on the loose side, particularly if worn with thin socks.
- They are not suited for heavy construction, but maybe just right for roofing.
- The leather is a bit on the soft side and some people find the sole to initially be too thick. It will soon wear down, though.
3. Cougar Paws Men’s Peak Series Performer Roofer Boot
- Here is Cougar Paw’s flagship model.
- The Cougar Paw Sure-Grip Work Boot is an elite option for roofing construction.
- It is a boot that has developed and expanded in design to provide you with the most superior safety and comfort technology.
- They are made of a blend of nylon and leather.
- The smooth grain leather resists stains and the lining absorbs heat well.
- The Cougar Paw Sure-Grip has the perfect balance of cell density and tensile strength with easily replaceable pads that can fit well within any budget.
- Most purchasers on Amazon buy two sets of replacement pads along with the boots.
- Reportedly, the pads will last about a month, depending on circumstances.
- For added durability and protection the toe is reinforced.
- A Velcro strap across the instep aids in tightening to boot up around the toes and provides some protection for the laces.
- The ankle is padded for extra comfort.
- This is a very comfortable boot that will not require a breaking in a period like the pure leather products seem to.
- They are durable boots, strong enough to withstand various harsh conditions.
- The patented Tracktion Pads absorb the heat of the roof, won’t mar the roofing material and for just another layer of safety, Cougar Paws exceed the ASTM rating when it comes to slip resistance.
- It has superior traction for the steepest of roofs and grips tight to shingles and asphalt-based roofing without scuffing them.
- You will be able to walk on just about any surface with stability and reassurance.
- The high ankles will protect you from stumbling or rolling as you climb higher.
- The lining absorbs heat but wicks away moisture so you will not have hot, sweaty feet at the end of the day.
- Always remember that if the pads of a boot are easily replaced, it is because they wear out just as easily.
- The cat on a hot tin roof must not be a cougar, because these boots are not suitable at all for metal roofs.
- Damp surfaces also seem to be an issue.
- The biggest complaint seems to be a sizing issue.
- They tend to run half a size large.
- You are better off buying them at a brick and mortar store than online.
- At two pounds, they’re a hefty sized shoe.
- There have been complaints of late that the workmanship on these boots has become shoddy in recent years.
- The color choice is limited to only one.
- Only wear if you don’t mind camel with black accents.
- Well, it is for work rather than fashion.
4. Timberland PRO Men’s Titan Six Inch Safety-Toe Boot
- These are among the most excellent of roofing construction work boots because they can stand up to all the rigors of this tough and often hazardous occupation as well as stay durable, functional, dependable and comfortable.
- They are made of leather with synthetic soles.
- These are full-grain leather work boot with the patented PowerFit comfort system for extreme day-long wear featuring moisture-channeling air-mesh comfort lining with Agion treatment that will keep your feet dry.
- The heel is a bit high at an inch and a quarter.
- The platform is three-quarters of an inch thick.
- The shaft measures approximately five and three-quarter inches from the arch.
- This boot features an alloy safety toe shaped on the TiTAN last to the protection that is strong but light in weight and has a superior fit.
- The mesh antimicrobial lining provides not only odor control but is super comfortable on your feet.
- It comes in the colors brown, black, and coffee.
- This is a boot that offers superb durability features to make it tough to use in any sort of environment and various rough conditions.
- The supportive comfort system molds to the shape of the foot and protects it from stress and strain, particularly around the ankles.
- It comes with the Timberland PRO rubber outsole that is resistant to slipping, oil, and abrasions.
- The boot has cement construction to make it more pliant and reduce break-in time.
- The PowerFit comfort system uses a fusion of ergonomically designed elements at the most important zones to provide movement and supply critical support, thus delivering ultimate comfort all day long.
- They’re not only comfortable and durable but can work as everyday shoes.
- What’s more, Timberland offers a 30-Day Comfort Guarantee.
- Weighing in at two pounds, they are a little on the heavy side.
- Like any leather product, it does require some breaking in, but not quite as much as similar products.
- It is not recommended for long hikes.
- The parts were made in the Dominican Republic.
- Some of the shoes are constructed in Tennessee, but some were made in China.
- Cracks and signs of wear tend to show up first on the toes.
- The sole material is on the hard side, becoming only more inflexible if exposed to cold, meaning these boots are not at all recommended for working on icy or slippery surfaces.
- Make these your summer boots.
5. Irish Setter Men’s 6″ 83605 Work Boots
- Whether you’re roofing or paving, Ashby’s high heat-resistant outsole withstands melting up to 475 degrees F to keep you cool.
- And they look hot too, all thanks to the durable Trout Brook leather that’s made only with America-raised steer hides.
- The leather is incredibly tough too.
- That’s all part of what makes people everywhere proud to wear Irish Setter Work Boots.
- The full-grain leather is hand tooled and naturally resists water.
- The sole is rubber. The shoe is 100% waterproof leather.
- The polyurethane footbed is removable.
- It meets all the safety standards of an electrical hazard boot.
- The heat resistant outsole is ideal for working on heated surfaces.
- It will protect the wearer from electrical shock.
- The boot should keep the foot warm and dry.
- They are lightweight and comfortable.
- They break in easily.
- The padded collar and tongue prevent rubbing.
- The shoe is well made and has great traction.
- The laces are rough-textured.
- The ankle area lacks some support.
- It’s probably more suitable for people with wide feet.
Main Features of Work Boots
Let us give OSHA credit where credit is due. As their name, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, suggests, their job is to protect the health and safety of America’s workers. It is an employer’s responsibility to see that all of their employees are wearing the appropriate footwear before doing any potentially dangerous work. Here is what you need to look for in a proper OSHA compliant work boot.
- Safety toe guards The two most basic types of injury you have to protect your feet from on the job are compression and impact. They can be steel toe, soft to, composite toe, or alloy toe. No matter what type of toe you go for, OSHA requirements call for the inside of the toe area of the boot to have a minimum clearance of half an inch.
- Metatarsal guards Your metatarsus is the group of five bones in your foot between the ankle and toes. This part of the foot is susceptible to fractures due to lightweight footwear. Metatarsal guards on work boots can be built-in or removable as well as internal or external. Protecting your metatarsus is a sure way to prevent injury from drop hazards.
- Electric Hazard soles Rubber soles not only have a solid natural grip, but they also insulate against electrical shock. It is a good idea to wear EH rated footwear if you work where there might be, say, a downed power line. The rubber sole will consist of a sole and heel combination molded in one solid piece with no metal connection. It should protect the wearer from circuits up to 600 volts.
Types of Work Boots
Everything about work boots starts with the toe, but it doesn’t end there! If you are a little confused about the many different types of work boots, here’s a quick rundown of the features and uses of the most commonly used work boots.
- Steel Toe A steel toe boot will protect your toes from anything that might be dropped on them. This is not great for roofing as they tend to get too cold in winter and don’t have enough give for kneeling. Pro tip: Do not wear these when walking through a metal detector. You will get searched.
- Composite Toe The composite toe is much like the steel toe only instead of steel in the toe box, there is a cap made of tough material that is not magnetic nor will it set off metal detectors. While it is more resistant to electricity and temperature changes than the steel toe, it is as unyielding.
- Alloy Toe The alloy toe is as strong and solid as the steel toe, but more lightweight. The toe caps can be an amalgamation of aluminum and other elements or they can be pure titanium. These types tend to be pricy, depending on materials.
- Soft Toe The soft toe does not have any metal in the toe and is soft as any leather boot. They are not ideal for working in construction areas where you are likely to drop something heavy on your toes, but roofing materials tend not to be very heavy. They have the given ideal for roofing work. If it has a seam running around the top, it’s a moc toe.
- Shallow Tread Shallow treat boots are the best option for situations where you need a little extra traction. They might be beneficial for working on icy roofs.
- Vibram Lugs Vibram lugs provide the grip you need to work on tough and steep terrain, like the roof of a house.
- Air Bobs Air bobs are little knobs on the soles of the boots. Great for walking on rocks and dirt, but not so much for roofs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you look for in a good pair of work boots?
The two main things you need to be on the outlook for are durability and the outsole. The boot’s material is continuously being put through a rugged trial on account of being exposed to all sorts of outdoor environments and the wear and tear from the roof’s tar, harsh chemicals, and shingles. It is because of this that if your boot does not have a suitable high-quality leather that it will not last you for a very long time.
It also has to be a high quality non-slip type of outsole that gives you the peace of mind that can only result from not being troubled about accidents caused by the intimidating steep angles that many roofs have. Also, be on the lookout for a flat sole and a balance between affordability and comfort.
What kind of socks should I wear with my work boots?
If you ask to try boots on in a store, you may be offered a nylon stocking for sanitary purposes. In reality, you will not be wearing pantyhose with these things. Cotton is also right out. It’s soft and comfortable, but it absorbs moisture, leaving you with smelly feet soaked in sweat at the end of the day.
In the summer, polyester crew socks might be the best for wicking away moisture and improving circulation. In the winter, you might like some woolen socks, but do keep in mind that these socks are a bit on the thick side and mean you might have to adjust the laces to make your boots fit better.
What should I do if I have wide feet?
First of all, do not try to shove your foot into a boot that is too narrow for your foot. There is no need for force. If it does not fit, it will not fit. It also not recommended that you try to size up in regular boot sizes. This is because even if larger boots do fit the width of your foot, the boot will likely be too long and will cause you to have painful blisters, chafing, and heel slippage. Wolverine, Rocky, and Chippewa are all brands that provide wide sizes.
How should I lace my boots?
It is recommended that you use the heel lock pattern to provide security and protect against blisters. This particular boot lacing pattern reduces pressure on the front of your foot while seeing to it that your heel stays in place and your ankle gets the proper support it needs. You can even use this lacing technique on running shoes and hiking boots to keep issues such as these from happening. Here’s how to do it.
Start with the basic crisscross method but stop before lacing through the last eyelet. Take the left lace and thread it through the top-left eyelet so that it comes out on the inside of the shoe. Repeat on the right side. Take the left lace and insert it through the right loop and repeat it with the right lace.
Pull the laces through, tightening them around the foot. It should be tight but not uncomfortable. Continue to tie your shoes as normal. This will make your laces hard to loosen and give your shoes more leverage while preventing the heels from slipping.
What are the OSHA requirements for work boots?
Here’s the gist of it without any of the legalese. Your employer must insist that you and all employees wear protective footwear when working in places that present danger from falling, rolling objects, sharp objects that could pierce the sole of an ordinary shoe, or electrical shock hazards.
If these items are allowed to be worn off the job site, then your employer is not required to pay for them. Remember that safety is everybody’s responsibility. You have the responsibility to get protective shoes and wear them properly and your employer has the responsibility to insist that you comply with safety ordinances.
Can work boots be worn for everyday use?
There are some fashion subcultures (rivethead, punk, emo, etc.) where work boots are part of the dress code. Some types of work boot are comfortable enough for everyday use. Some are strictly for work. Some people buy one pair to work in and an identical pair for just everyday use.
Be careful about wearing white or red laces with black boots, particularly with them laced in horizontal lines as in some circles it can get you mistaken for a skinhead. Wearing blue laces with black boots might give some people the idea that you don’t like the police and maybe even killed one. If you wear purple laces with black boots, well, let’s just say you might be getting a few phone numbers you don’t really want.
How do I condition leather boots?
Don’t use mink oil as this can over-soften the leather. Many boot manufacturers also make specialty boot cream. Apply a solid coat and buff with a soft bristle brush. If they get wet, stuff them with newspaper and air dry.
Buying boots suitable for roofing can be a difficult matter. But if you do your research and go in forearmed, it need not be an insurmountable task. They are an investment, but make sure your investment is worth it. They need to be comfortable but durable enough to withstand the damage shoes can run into while doing roofing. You want boots that have a solid grip and ankle support.
You need to keep your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. You want to guard against injury from electrical shock, chemical exposure, or sharp objects. A soft toe is best for roofing where steel toes are better for general construction such as dealing with drywall or bricks. Be smart, weigh all your options and you will find the perfect boots for you.