metal Peak roof

Metal Roof Snow Guards and Rails

The season’s first snowfall can be enchanting, creating a winter wonderland. However, that magic can quickly wear off as large amounts of snow and ice accumulate atop a building’s roof, creating a risk for people and property as it falls off without notice.

Snow guards are a great way to minimize the dangers of snow shedding on your metal roof. Easy to install and effective in use, they can keep snowfall in place during heavy storms and allow snowmelt to drain in a controlled manner when temperatures climb. 

brick building with metal roof covered in snow

Snow Guards Explained 
Snow guards are devices attached to a metal roof that help snow melt or drift off in small amounts instead of cascading over the side all at once. Gaining control is essential because a sudden release – sometimes called a rooftop avalanche – can cause life-threatening harm. They may also break windows, rip off gutters, tear away siding, demolish vents, flatten seams, and buckle panels. Any impacted areas are susceptible to moisture infiltration, which can corrode remaining roof panels and damage interior building contents.

Protection for All Winter-Weather Climates
All metal-roofed properties in areas where snowfall may happen should take advantage of snow guards. It’s common to presume they’re only needed in regions that sustain heavy winter storms, but in reality, not much snowfall is needed to create a hazardous situation. 

No matter the amount of snowfall, a temperature-sensitive connection with the metal roofing surface is formed. Prolonged sun exposure or building heat loss can break that bond, though, enabling moisture to get between the two and create a slippery situation. Without snow guards in place, a several-ton blanket of snow can abruptly slide off the roof.

Types Of Snow Guards
All snow guards are designed to stop sudden snow and ice movement, but not all are right for every application. Here’s a breakdown of the three primary snow guard styles. As always, it’s best to consult with an architect, structural engineer, or building professional before installation.

Clip-Style Snow Guards
Featuring a flat, wide shape and attached to a roof in specific patterns, this is the most common type of snow guard. Commonly called snow pads, snow cleats, snow jacks, snowbirds, and snow dogs, among other names, they come in small and large profiles. Smaller ones are less noticeable but block lower amounts of snowfall. As a result, more of them are needed than large-profiled ones. These devices can be installed onto metal panels using a liquid adhesive, tape, or screws. Some types clamp directly to the seams of standing seam roofs.

Pipe-Style Snow Guards
This system features two or more horizontally-positioned tubes that look like a split rail fence. It’s perfect for custom homes or commercial buildings where a less modern appearance is desired. 

Fence-Style Snow Guards
This continuous bar is installed horizontally across the metal roof, forming a barrier that collects snow and ice. Capable of withstanding heavy loads, it features a clean look and can be painted to match the roof color. The roof pitch, distance from the eave to the peak, and expected snow load will help determine the number of fence rows needed for an application. 

Successful Snow Retention Is About More Than Shape
Materials play a pivotal role in performance and longevity when it comes to snow guards. They should always be made of non-corrosive metals or have corrosion-resistant coatings. 

Another thing to consider is material compatibility. Some mounting hardware materials may not react well with specific roofing systems, resulting in premature degradation. For zinc or coated steel roofs, aluminum material with stainless hardware may be best. Copper roofs react well with stainless steel and brass alloy hardware. Choose stainless or anodized aluminum hardware when you have stainless steel roofing panels. 

Your Source For Metal Roof Snow Guards
With the winter season always around the corner, there’s no wrong time to add snow guards and rails to your metal roofing system. At EXCEPTIONAL® Metals, we’re happy to help you find the best snow retention system for a variety of applications including commercial spaces, banks, office buildings, medical facilities, schools, manufacturing sites, airports, retail stores, and more.

When you’re in an area with snowfall, you know the snow building up on the edge of your roofline is not likely to stay there forever. Whether you’re looking for metal snow rails or snow retention bars, EXCEPTIONAL Metals can deliver the quality solution you need on time and at competitive prices.  Contact us today to learn more about metal roof snow guards and rails. We’re happy to discuss your needs in greater detail.

Metal roof building with clear snow guards