Design Your Standing Seam Metal Roof for Optimal Performance in Cold Weather Climates

If you’re planning on installing a new standing seam metal roof and you live in a cold weather climate with snow, keep in mind some design considerations that, in the long run, are sure to protect you against problems with snow and ice accumulation and removal during the winter months. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a design with a cold roof. Keep the entire roof as cold as the eaves. Ventilating the underside of the roof, insulating the attic floor, and plugging air leaks are usually the answer.
  • Consider a roof color with a high solar absorption value that will help thaw snow and ice.  Colors such as bronze, brown, or dark gray versus white or light earth tones will help do the trick.
  • Make sure roof planes are oriented east to west rather than north to south. The north and east elevations of a roof are most prone to ice dam formation due to solar radiation. Roofs oriented north and south have the worst problems with these types of ice dams. To reduce the likelihood of ice dams, roofs should be oriented east and west to promote even heating and cooling of the snow.
  • Avoid roof designs and proximity to natural topography that cause shading, which can lead to snow accumulation and ice damming.
  • Make sure your contractor uses a sheet membrane roof underlayment, consisting of either a rubberized-asphalt or butyl-based adhesive with a polyethylene carrier sheet that is peel-and-stick to adhere well to the roof deck. This type of underlayment is effective on standing seam metal roofs for ice dam protection in the places you might expect including roof eaves, valleys, dormers, or rising walls.Log home with standing seam metal roof
  • Include in your design a plan to deal with snow shedding and retention. Snow shed can occur, so it should be considered during the design of a roof. Otherwise, blocks of snow sliding down from a metal roof can become damaging or physically threatening, or both. Roof locations where there is pedestrian traffic and parking in and around the house are areas that are most susceptible to these dangers and therefore it is important to try and avoid or at least anticipate snow slides.
  • Use snow guards or rails that clamp to the standing seam without puncturing the panel material and leaving their thermal movement unrestricted.

So, if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your new standing seam metal roof in the cold weather ahead – following these guidelines will help you get there.

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