Demystifying Snow Guards on Synthetic Roofing

snow guard synthetic roofingWhat are those funny-looking “things” that poke up from rooftops in some areas of the country? They’re snow guards — and their function is to break apart snow as it melts off of synthetic roofing so that snow masses don’t come “avalanching down” on walkways and landscaping.

There’s a science to adding snow guards to a home or commercial structure with synthetic roofing in snow-prone areas. To understand the process better, we asked Lars Walberg, President of Rocky Mountain Snow Guards, to walk us through the steps.

“First we look at a roof diagram for the building, either an aerial picture of an existing structure or architectural drawings of a new structure,” says Walberg. “We ask the customer to identify areas over driveways, entry doors, walks, dog runs, decks and other key ‘traffic’ locations. We also ask about key landscaping areas. Then we design a snow guard system to help protect those eaves and areas from snow slides.”

How it’s Done

The science behind the operation comes in determining how many snow guards to specify for synthetic roofing, at which locations, and to determine the snow load and retention.

“We’ve calculated and designed a number of different patterns of snow guards that are effective for different situations,” says Walberg, whose company supplies snow guards for homes and buildings all across the country. “Steeper synthetic roofs, longer runs and the lower coefficient of friction of the roof covering all play a part in determining how many, what placement pattern and what snow guard will be most effective.”

snow guard synthetic roofingThere’s even more science involved. According to Walberg, placement distance of the snow guards from the eaves of the roof is a function of “eave to peak distance, pitch and snow load.” Plus, there are different considerations if you’re installing snow guards with synthetic shake roofing versus synthetic slate shingles.

“We specified a job in Minnesota with DaVinci Shake from DaVinci Roofscapes,” says Walberg. “For that project an RG10 snow guard is most effective because it has a larger and higher pad face. If the same house had DaVinci Slate roofing, we’d most likely specify the SnowTrapper ST9 product because they’re a lower profile snow guard and work well with the DaVinci Slate product.”

Finally, know that there are a variety of options when it comes to snow guards. You can select decorative snow guards, different materials for snow guards and even powder-coated snow guards that can be color-matched to complement the color of your DaVinci synthetic roof.