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A Guide to Building a Custom Home for Calgary’s Extreme Climate

Side of three story modern home with wood and stone detailing at dusk

Nestled in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary experiences some of Canada’s most extreme weather patterns. With high temperatures in the summer and low temperatures in the winter, it’s important to select building materials for your custom home that can flex and withstand the swings. Beyond temperature, there are also strong winds, heavy snow falls, monsoon rains and fierce hail storms to contend with. There are quite a few material options to consider from roofing to flooring. While it can be a daunting endeavour, here are a few of the best options to withstand Calgary’s climate and to make your dream home cozy, energy efficient and last for years to come.

Selecting the Right Roof

Your custom home’s roof will take the brunt of Calgary’s extreme weather conditions. It will need to be strong enough for heavy snowfalls in the winter and durable enough for downpours and hail the size of golf balls in the spring. Your roof’s trusses are equally as important as they expand and contract with the change in temperatures and can lead to stress cracks in the upper floor’s drywall. There are a few different kinds of roofing materials to fulfill these requirements while still looking stylish.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt roofs are one of the most common types of roofs in Canada for their affordability and relative durability. Asphalt can withstand moisture and extreme temperatures and are fire-resistant. The material itself has improved over the years with the inclusion of fibreglass making it last even longer. Reinforced asphalt can still incur hail damage and mildew. With routine maintenance to ensure each shingle is in good condition, your asphalt roof can last 15-20 years.

Slate Tiles

Slate is an excellent roof material choice. As a premium roofing material, it is one of the most expensive options. Slate offers quite a few benefits and can last a lifetime. It is completely waterproof and fireproof, and resistant to mold and mildew. Slate can withstand Calgary’s freezing temperatures in winter and hot temperatures in the summer while providing good insulation to regulate your home’s interior temperature. Before selecting this option, check the rating of the slate to ensure it can resist hail damage.

Concrete Tiles

Concrete tile roofs offer similar benefits to slate roofs. They are very strong, about three times as strong as asphalt, provide long-term value, energy efficiency and come in a variety of colours and styles. While there are some lightweight concrete tiles, this roofing option is typically very heavy and requires a strong foundation. Concrete tiles can still incur damage from hail and require routine maintenance to ensure no further damage occurs.

Rubber Roofs

Rubber roofs are another durable roofing option. More expensive than asphalt, but less expensive than concrete or slate tiles, rubber roofs can endure extreme temperature swings without damage, withstand hail three centimeters in diameter and are usually laid in a single piece, highly reducing any chance of water-seepage. Rubber roofs are fire-resistant, regulate internal home temperatures and can be used for flat-style roofs. It is often made out of recycled materials also making it a sustainable material choice.

Exterior Siding

Beyond curb appeal, your home’s exterior siding also plays a big role in the comfort and energy efficiency of your home’s interior. Like your roof, your custom home’s siding takes a lot of weathering. Severe hailstorms have been known to cause extensive damage leading to costly repairs. Below are some of the most durable and efficient custom home siding options.

Fibre Cement Board

Fibre cement board is a sturdy material that provides strong protection against fires, hail and high winds. While early versions of this material included asbestos, James Hardie Building Products repopularized fibre cement board with an asbestos free formula coining the material Hardie board siding. It is engineered to withstand temperature swings, freeze and thaw cycles and long bouts of ultraviolet exposure that Calgary experiences in the summer. Because it is a synthetic material, it also resists pests, comes in a variety of styles and colours and has one of the longest lifespans of siding materials.


Steel siding is one of the strongest metal siding options available. It is durable against heavy rains, snowfalls and winds, and more resistant to scratches and dents than other metals. It is naturally pest, fire and mold-resistant and requires little maintenance. Steel also helps keep your home cool in the summer by reflecting the sun’s rays rather than absorbing their heat, and is one of the most environmentally-friendly materials to choose from.


Brick siding has a long history for good reason. This style of siding offers a specific look to your home and has a long list of positive features. Strong and durable, brick can withstand all the extreme elements Calgary experiences throughout the year and is also resistant to pests, mold and fire. Its insulation qualities maximize your home’s energy efficiency by regulating internal temperatures, and its density also helps to reduce noise.


Big windows flood your custom home with natural light, heighten the ambiance and add value. Windows can also be a source of air leaks and cold drafts. Windows come in a few different styles, but what really matters is the kind of glass used. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting glass.

Multiple Panes

More familiarly known as double or triple-glazed windows, multi-pane windows feature a spacer system which prevents the formation of condensation. The spacers create a vacuum and most are filled with gas to minimize heat transfer and provide better insulation. A third pane offers additional insulation and is a great option for Calgary’s cold winters.

Low-E Glass

Low-emissive glass is an invisible treatment that reflects heat and ultraviolet rays from the sun. It further helps prevent heat transfer to keep your home warm and protects your wall coverings and fabrics from fading from prolonged sun exposure.


Inside your home, flooring makes a statement, reflects your personal style and greatly affects your comfort. With Calgary’s cold and dry climate, it’s important to select flooring that can withstand freezing temperatures, snow melt and abrasive snow-melting products. Weather swings can make some flooring materials expand and contract, leading to gaps between planks throughout the winter months. Here are a few of the most durable materials that will keep your feet warm all winter long. 

Vinyl Planks

Vinyl planks have come a long way over the years. They come in a variety of colours, styles and textures to provide a luxury feel. Vinyl planks warm quickly, especially when paired with radiant heating, are waterproof and scratch resistant. They also don’t expand or contract in extreme hot or cold temperatures. Vinyl is easy to clean and repair, is pet friendly and works for every room in your home.

Engineered Hardwood Planks

Engineered hardwood planks have a similar look and feel to solid hardwood, but are much more durable. Engineered hardwood does not shrink and expand in extreme temperatures the way solid hardwood does, meaning your floors will remain uniform throughout the year. They also withstand radiant heating systems better than solid hardwood, offering you more options to keep your feet warm during the cold winter months.


Tile flooring can be quite cold under foot during the winter, but when paired with a radiant heating system, it warms up quickly. Tile is durable, easy to clean and comes in different shapes, sizes, styles and colours making it a good option for entryways, kitchens and bathrooms.


Carpet is one of the warmest flooring choices making it a popular option for basements. Carpet experiences minimal contraction and expansion during temperature swings and traps air between its fibers providing further insulation. Carpet comes in a variety of colours, patterns and piles so you can pick your plush or keep it low profile.

Whatever your favourite custom home style, there are a variety of materials to choose from to achieve your dream home or luxury home renovation. We hope this guide helps you choose materials to keep you cool in the summer, warm in the winter, save on energy costs and enjoy your home for years to come.