Snow Guards Buying Guide: Types, Roof Compatibility & More
As winter approaches, now is the time to think about snow guards. Snow guards are installed on roofs to prevent snow and ice from sliding off and injuring people or damaging property. Many types of snow guards are available, depending on the type of roof and the amount of snow and ice accumulation.
In this guide, you'll learn about the different types of snow guards and how to choose the right one for your roof. You'll also discover the benefits of installing snow guards and get answers to frequently asked questions.
What are snow guards?
A snow guard or a snow retention system prevents large sheets of snow from avalanching off a roof and potentially damaging your property or passersby below.
Snow guards are installed along the eaves of a sloped roof to help the snow slide right off instead of forming large, heavy chunks that could break free and cause damage. There are many different types of snow guards available on the market, but they all serve the same purpose--to keep the snow and ice where it belongs: on your roof.
Benefits of using roof snow guards on your home
With snow guards installed on your homes roof, you can protect your family and home from dangerous snow slips and roof damage. Here are some benefits:
- Protection from falling snow and ice: The weight of the snow and ice can cause your gutters to bend, break, and eventually detach from your home. Massive snow slides can also ruin trees, shrubs and planter beds. Snow guards help to prevent this by providing a barrier between the snow and ice and your gutters.
- Prevent roof damage: Snow and ice can attach to roofing materials during freeze and thaw cycles, and slides often take some roof along with them. Snow guards help to prevent damage to roofs by distributing the weight of the snow and ice across a larger area, which reduces the risk of damage.
- Save on maintenance costs: Improve the structural durability of your home and avoid costly repairs by installing snow guards.
- Eave protection: The overhang of your roof, known as the eave, is especially vulnerable to damage from snow and ice. Snow guards help to protect the eave by providing a barrier between the snow and ice and your home.
- Reduced liability: Slips and falls from snowfall can result in serious injuries. Installing snow guards can help reduce liability risk if someone is injured on your property.
Our favorite snow guards for each type of roof
With more choices on the market than ever before, it can be difficult to determine which snow guard products are right for your roof. The most important factor in making this decision is the type of roofing material you have.
Different types of roofing require different types of snow guard to be effective. And while there are many snow guard products that claim to be universal, it's important to choose one specifically designed for your roof type.
Metal Roof Snow Guards
There are three main types of snow guards for standing seam metal roofs: polycarbonate, corrugated, and powder coated aluminum.
Polycarbonate snow guards are made from strong, shatter-resistant plastic to withstand heavy snow and ice. Corrugated ones are made from durable metal with a ribbed design, and aluminum snow guards for metal roofs have a more streamlined design.
Here are our top three picks for standing seam roofs:
- RTCLSR Clear Snow Guard in clear polycarbonate with U.V. are ideal for preventing blade breakage. The three to one base to blade ratio adds significantly to the shear and peel adhesion of the device to the surface.
- The AP 400 Snow Guard is a non-penetrating device designed to accommodate standing seams of up to 3/8" in thickness and at least 1-1/2" high, including snap-lock interlocking panels. The attachment of the AP 400 Snow Guard does not restrict thermal movement.
- The SM Snow Guard is a cast aluminum device designed to adhere to the pan surface of pre-finished metal roofs. It effectively retains snow and ice on metal roofs, including batten and lap seam panels.
Slate & Tile Roof Snow Guards
Snow or ice rolling from an upper to a lower slate or tile roof could break slates or tiles on the lower surface or damage gutters, downspouts, or people standing below. Due to the influence of wind, snow, and vibration ensure your slate and slate snow guards are firmly anchored on the roof during installation.
Snow guards for either slate and tile roofs get attached in a couple of different ways to provide proper protection while not damaging the roofing tiles. For new construction applications they can be nailed directly to the deck.
In retrofit applications, the snow guards will hook onto the top of the slate or they can be hooked on to the nails that hold up the slate. Either way, the slates do not take on any of the weight load of the snow and will not break, crack or chip.
Here are our top three picks for slate and tile roofs:
- The Loop the Loop Snow Guard is used to prevent snow build-up on asphalt shingle, slate and cedar shake roofs. It has a simple design that blends in well with most roofing systems and is 5 3/8" long with a diameter of 1 5/8". As a general guide, 50 snow guards per 100 square feet of roofing are recommended.
- The Alpine #10 Snow Guard is a popular choice for slate, cedar, and flat tile roofs. It can be modified to fit different roofing materials and exposures.
- The #95 Snow Guard is a durable and decorative assembly perfect for slate roofs. It can also be used for tile and cedar applications and can handle heavy snowfall.
Cedar Roof Snow Guards
Cedar shakes and shingles naturally resist high winds and hail damage, making them an excellent choice for any home. Not to mention, their beauty and charm add curb appeal that asphalt shingles cannot match.
Each box of perfection shingles states 1/8 to 1/4 keyway spacing is required for installation. Cedar shake and shingle roofs can be attached to either solid sheathing or spaced sheathing. The most common fastener is a ring shank nail, but some manufacturers recommend using a screw. However, they still need protection from the elementsspecifically, heavy snow and ice buildup.
Here are our top three picks for cedar roof snow guards:
- The Pro 100 Snow Guard Assembly is just like the regular 100 version but with a reinforced gusset that can withstand a 300-pound point load. Simply insert the slotted bar under your roofing material, engage a nail in one of the slots, and pull to fully secure the bar - fast and easy. Ideal for retrofit or new construction applications.
- The #2 Snow Guard for cedar roofing systems is made from plated iron, which is highly durable and has a steel bar that is 1/8" thick and 1" wide. 12" long. This product should be installed during the initial roof installation for the best results.
- The 110 Snow Guard comes with a shorter bar and is ideal for cedar or asphalt shingled roofs. Made with tough materials, this guard will protect your roof from damage caused by heavy snowfall.
Asphalt Shingle Roof Snow Guards
Asphalt shingles are the most popular type of roofing material in North America, and for a good reason. They're affordable, easy to install, and come in various colors and styles. But with any roofing material, you must take measures to protect it from the elements - especially heavy snow and ice buildup. Stainless steel or aluminum snow guards are the best way to do this.
Here are our top three picks for asphalt shingle roof snow guards:
- The Loop Snow Guard has a simple design and blends in well with most roofing systems, making it virtually undetectable. This product is also highly effective, preventing snow and ice from sliding off your roof and onto walkways or other areas below.
- This #110 Snow Guard is perfect for asphalt shingled roofs. The shorter bar makes it easier to install and helps prevent roof damage.
- The #95 Snow Guard is gothic-styled and is not only aesthetically pleasing but also very durable. It can withstand large amounts of snowfall and is ideal for asphalt, slate, tile, and cedar roofs.
Snow Guard Installation
Snow guard installation is a simple process that can be completed in just a few steps.
- 1. Check with your local building council to see if a permit is required for installation.
- 2. Decide which type of snow guard is best for your roofing system and purchase the required amount.
- 3. Make a template of the roof area where the guards will be installed using cardboard or plywood to help determine the best placement for the guards.
- 4. Install the guards following the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure to use the proper fasteners for your roofing system.
- 5. Check the guards periodically to ensure they are secure and in good condition.
For retrofit applications, if you are installing snow guards on an existing roof, it is best to consult with professional roofers to ensure the guards are installed properly and ensure your roof is protected from heavy snow and ice buildup.