What is the best type of snow guard?

There are many choices for snow guards for metal roofs.

Days are gone when you have only limited choices to select a snow-guard system for your residential or commercial building. But today, for good or bad, you have a lot of options available on the market.

When I said good, I meant to say that you have a lot of alternatives so that you don't have to compromise on your priorities. In the meantime, you are going to have a tough time deciding which one fits your requirements.

Primarily, you should know why it is advisable to opt for a snow retention system. A simple, one-word answer is safety! Safety of pedestrian traffic and property safety protection. A snow retention system will hold the snow or ice when it falls and later allow a controlled evacuation, thus helping you protect your valuable assets.

Given this, architects and builders are now incorporating snow retention systems into their original designs. However, older buildings may lack snow stops and are in desperate need of repair.

Whether you plan to install a new snow retention system, repair an old one, or upgrade an existing system, durability must come first; otherwise, you may come to regret it.

Let's take a look at the types of snow retainers you can choose from. This article has been divided into three sections:

  1. Based on the method of attachment
  2. Based on the material
  3. Based on design and installation

Based on the Method of Attachment

The glossy-coated painted metal surface of roofs is smooth and frictionless, so it is important to choose the right attachment procedure for installing the snow retention system. There are two basic methods of attaching snow guards to a metal roof.

Glue Down

SureBond SB-190 liquid adhesive

3M VHB double-sided tape with a perimeter seal of SureBond SB-190 liquid adhesive


Mechanical Attachment

Clamping to the seam of the roof

Attaching through the roof sheet into the purlins of the building structure


Gluing The Snow Guards To The Metal Panel

As the name implies, the glue-down method involves attaching the snow guard, which should always be plastic, to the roof using liquid SB-190 adhesive applied on the complete underside or 3M bonding tape, with a liquid SB-190 adhesive sealant sealed around the perimeter of the snow guard. The only type of snow brake that should be used with the 3M tape is the pointed SnowBreaker. The 3M tape is a temporary method of attachment and should only be used on projects that do not receive heavy snow falls.

Installing snow guards with SB-190 liquid adhesive is fast, and it will help you save labor costs without compromising on their holding strength.

Ideally, you should use only use seam mounted or the glue attachment method when installing snow stops on a floating standing seam metal roof. Since most standing seam metal roofs are installed on clips, they are not meat to have screws penetrating the panels. Adhesive mounted snow guards are the least detrimental method of attachment for any metal roof. In the event of a snow overload, the snow guard can release it self from the panel without panel damage. If this happens, the snow stops can easily be reapplied to the same spot on the roof. If you have decided to go ahead with glue-down plastic snow guards, we suggest you use the clear polycarbonate options or have a look at the various color snow guard options that we have at our store.


Mechanically Attaching The Snow Guard

Clamping snow retention to the standing seams of the roof

This method uses a seam-clamping attachment to attach the snow guards to the roof. Clamping offers a robust holding strength and is a great option for standing seam-style metal roof types. The standing seam roof clamps on the are attached to the roof seam using time-proven, cup-point set screws offering the best durability and strength. Buyer beware when using polished round head set screw points sold of some systems. The polished round headed set screws require excessive torque settings because are slippery and can easily damage the seams on light gauge panels. When using seam mounted snow guards, remember there is no release factor like adhesive mounted snow retention systems.

Attaching the purlin or rafters of the building structure

This is something you can do while retrofitting or even during an snow retention upgrade. Here the snow guards are attached directly to the building structures for which you need to have holes drilled through the metal roof sheet attaching screws into the rafters or purlins below. Never stitch the screw to the panel itself, the screws will probably pull out resulting in potential roof leaks. It is essential to have holes that are precisely located over the purlins ro structural supports to ensure secure placement and the long-term service life of the roof.

Check out the different screw mounted snow guards available.


Based on the Material

There are three different types of material with which snow guards are made.

  1. Plastic

  2. Stainless Steel

  3. Aluminum

Plastic snow retainers are lightweight and less expensive and are a great option. If you choose to use stainless steel or extruded aluminum over plastic, make sure you are familiar with the attachment requirements.

If you have an R-Panel screw-down metal roof or are planning to get exposed fastener roofing installed, we suggest you look at snow retainers for R-Panel roofs.


Based on Design and Installation

Now that we have discussed the various available options, the last on the list is which design is efficient, individual staggered snow guards, or continuous snow rails.

There is a popular conception in the industry that a continuously attached system is much costlier than a individual staggered snow guards. That doesn't always hold when you factor in all of the criteria significant cost of components and installation time.

Whether you use a staggered or continuous design, as long as you follow the manufacturer's installation instructions, the snow brackets will work properly. You should also consult with your architect about which look will be functional and aesthetically pleasing in the non-winter months! You should also check to see if the architect considered the slope, designed snow loads, base panel material, width, and configuration, among other things, during his design calculations.


Proper Installation – The Key to Longevity!

Correct installation is will make sure your snow retention system will last.

If you are using an adhesive, ensure it is installed at the optimum temperature of 40F or above. A minimum curing period of 28 days should be given if the temperatures don't fall below 40 degrees fahrenheit. Colder tempers will not ruin the adhesive but it will extend the curing time.

When clamping snow retention to the seams, ensure that the clamps are tightened to the manufacturer's recommended torque setting. Most clamp-on snow retention systems are measured in inch pounds, not foot pounds.

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Snow sliding and accumulation on unprotected metal roofs are a common cause of property damage and physical injuries. You should never hesitate to install a properly engineered & well-installed snow guard on your roof!