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Metal roof snow guards

snow guards

The question of snow guards for metal roofed houses often arises in Toronto as heavy snowfalls and freezing rains are very common in Ontario (Canada) during winter seasons. The volume of ice and snow quickly accumulating on a roof can be measured in hundreds of kilograms. Once snow begins sliding, it can cause significant damage to the lower roof, gutters, landscaping, cars or pedestrians.

That is why structure owners are encouraged to install snow guards onto their metal roofs to prevent rooftop avalanche. A snow guard is also referred to as ice breaker, ice stop, ice rake, or sometimes as snow stop, snow block, or anti-snow barrier. When the melting mass goes down the snow fence, it breaks the snow in chunks, thus preventing it from crashing in one large swoop.

Metal guards are widely used in Canada, including Ontario province and Toronto. Snow rails vary in their material. Typically, snow guards are made of stainless steel, zinc-coated steel, copper or aluminum, but sometimes they come in polycarbonate and plastic. Roof Experts strongly recommend installing zinc-coated steel guards as they proved to be heavy-duty, durable and have reasonably price. Over time, plastic and polycarbonate snow guards will become breakable: they chip or fracture.

Aluminum snow guards are not heavy-duty and not able to keep big amount of snow. Stainless steel and copper roof safety systems are expensive and have a longer life span equal to or greater than the metal roof itself. There have been independent researches that proved that metal roofs last over 50 years longer than other roofing materials.

The best thing about snow guards from Roof Experts is that they work equally well for practically any kind of roof and its elements:

How do snow guards work?

Several hundred years ago inhabitants of cold areas placed stones and logs on their roof. This measure was meant to increase friction with the snow and thus to smooth the progress of snow flow in a predictable and controlled manner: evaporation and thaw, rather than by a sudden and hazardous rooftop avalanche.

Today snow fences usually have the form of pipes that remotely remind the logs used in previous centuries. These pipes are securely arranged according to the specific calculation.

Roof Experts offer European tubular snow guards which are connected to the roof by 4 brackets for every 10 feet. They are fastened either to the ribs of standing seam profiles or by screws to lumber, plywood or roof trusses through the regular shingles, metal tile panels as well as to straight rib panel profiles.

Pros and Cons of Various Types of Snow Guards

If you consider enhancing the roof safety, you will want to wrap your head around the difference between numerous kinds of snow stoppers.  Let us have a closer look at the most popular ones: metal and plastic snow holders.

The roofing market offers numerous solutions for the protection from heavy snows.  The difference is based on the properties of the holder material. The metal ones are the most expensive devices as they are not subject to corrosion, ideally suit any type of roof. Moreover, the service life of stainless steel or copper snow guards is comparable to the service life of a metal roof, i.e. over 50 years.

Stainless steel snow guards

Stainless steel snow guards
Stainless steel snow guards

Pros

  • Longlasting solution:

This type of snow retention system is exceptionally durable and can work as long as the metal roof underneath, i.e. from fifty years and over.

  • Easy installation

Tubular stainless-steel snow catchers can be installed easily and fast on most types of the roofs. Usually they are found on expensive kind of roofs such as slate roof.

  • Efficient

The system is very efficient as tubular arrangement of the holders can withstand the heaviest loads and does not let the snow or ice come down in chunks or avalanches.

Cons

This kind of snow stoppers is considerably high-priced. It is explained by the cost of the metal itself: it is produced in several complicated stages of processing. As a result, it comes out very robust and durable.

Aluminum snow guards

Aluminum snowguards on Standing seam roof
Aluminum snowguards on Standing seam roof

Pros

  • Affordable

Aluminum retention system is a budget-friendly option.

  • A good fit for most of the roofs

Aluminium holders can be easily installed on the majority kinds of the roofs.

  • Functional

Snow stoppers are perfect for keeping snow on the roof and preventing any damages to the property or injuries to people around the building.

Cons

  • Quite expensive

Again this feature is due to the properties of the metal. Aluminum requires a lot of energy for its production. That is why it one of the most expensive metals.

  • Rust issues

Aluminum products are susceptible to corrosion in moisty climate, near the water or sea.

Steel snow guards

Steel snow guards
Steel snow guards

Pros

  • Heavy-duty

The system is installed easily on practically any metal roof and demonstrates enhanced properties against  any winter precipitation.

  • Efficient

The holders withstand any weather, snow, ice and wind.

  • Good price

The price for steel snow retention system is cost-competitive while ensuring high quality.

  • Come in different colours

It is easy for the snow guards to match the style of your house. They come virtually in any color.

Cons

If the manufacturer skimped on quality, there could appear problems with corrosion. However, this is never the case with snow guards from Roof Experts.

Copper snow guards

copper snow guards
Copper snow guards

Pros

  • Incredibly heavy-duty

Indeed copper holders proved to be unbeatably robust against force of nature.

  • Look elegant and classy

Being durable copper catchers also boasts beautiful appearance on copper roofs.

Cons

  • Limited application

With that said we come to the disadvantages of copper system. Such snow guards fit the copper roof only.

  • Very expensive.

Polycarbonate / plastic snow guards

Broken plastic polycarbonate snow guards on metal roof
Broken plastic polycarbonate snow guards on metal roof

Pros

  • Cheap and easy to install

That is where the benefits of the plastic snow guards end. According to our customers, the polycarbonate devices cannot withstand even the low snow load, they can be drawn away, rip off part of the roofing material or begin to decay under the sun.

Cons

  • Unreliable

These inexpensive holders are comparatively new on the construction market. The polycarbonate devices are indeed cheap and easy to install. The stoppers are made from transparent plastic and can be attached to the roof with special glue to the roof top.

Type of devicesPriceDurabilityLife span
Stainless steel snow guardsHighHeavy-duty durabilityLifetime
Aluminum snow guardsFairPractical solution for the roofsOver 50 years
Steel snow guardsFairPractical solution for heavy snow load.Over 50 years
Copper snow guardsHighExtremely durable as well as exceedingly costly. It is advised to use this kind of snow guards on the copper roofs. It guarantees the uniformity of style and metal safetyLifetime
Polycarbonate / plastic snow guardsLowCheap and not reliable. We have seen many clients asking to swap them for the metal ones.A few years

To sum up it appears that the best balance between cost and quality is reached with the tubular steel snow guards. Unfortunately, they do not fit all types of standing seam metal profiles. For this reason, in certain seldom cases listed above some roof profiles require using aluminum or copper system snow stoppers. Keep in mind that this is always a more expensive solution.

There are different types of snow guards

Snow guards for metal tile panels

Snowguards for metal tile
Snowguards for metal tile

Snow guards for metal tiles panels and straight rib panels connected by special screws to the metal roof base.

Snowguards for metal tile and straight rib panels
Snowguards for metal tile and straight rib panels

Snow guards for Snap lock standing seam roofs

Snow guards for snap lock standing seam roofs connected by brackets to the ribs of panels (see the left picture below).

Snowguards for snap-lock and classic standing seam
Snowguards for snap-lock and classic standing seam

Snow guards for Classical standing seam roofs

Snow guards for classical or mechanical standing seam roofs connected by brackets to the seamed ribs of the metal panels.

Snowguards for standing seam
Snowguards for standing seam

How many snow guards do I need?

Depending on the region climate (amount of snow), length, width and pitch of slope, we determine the quantity of the snow guards required to retain snow on the roof. So you better either know these numbers or our crew will make the measurements on site.

Roof slope
Roof slope

Roof snow load chart

Roof snow load chart

Snow guards video

Please check out a video from our snow guard projects.

Estimate snow guards

To estimate the cost of snow guards please fill in the form below.

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