Do I Really Need Snow Guards?

DaVinci do I need snow guards?
May 20, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

By DaVinci Roofscapes

What are snow guards and why might you need them?

If you’re researching a new roof for your home and live in a snowy area, your roofer has probably brought up the idea of snow guards. The thought of adding “chunks of metal” to your roof may be throwing you off. Do you really need them when you’ve never had them before? Is the roofer just trying to add money to his bottom line? Will you ever really use them? 

The answer truly depends on the type of roof you’re having installed and how much snow you get in your area. If you live in a snowy climate and you’re considering composite roofing (otherwise called synthetic or polymer roofing), then the answer is definitely yes, you need to seriously consider snow guards

In Colorado, roofer Nick Piontek, owner of On Point Contracting, is a full service roofing and remodeling contractor. His team serves the very snowy areas of Denver, Summit and Eagle Counties.  

Nick has dealt with homeowners who are weary of snow guards for various reasons. They don’t like the look of them on their roofs. They aren’t keen on the added cost factor. And the big reason, they simply don’t understand the need for them.  

We asked Nick to share his thoughts on snow guards, and how he and his company explain snow guards to homeowners. Hopefully this will help you gain a better understanding of whether or not you and your home need snow guards for your next roof replacement:

Q: How do you begin a conversation with homeowners about snow guards? 

Nick: It starts with education. When homeowners are making a change to a synthetic shake or slate roof, they don’t understand why they need snow guards. We explain the roof composition differences, and why snow tends to slide off synthetic roofs. That leads us to explain why so many snow guards are needed at specific locations along the roofline. 

Then we share stories of snow avalanching off roofs. It can happen on a deck or in front of a garage door. In a more serious example, recently a hotel at a ski resort in southern Colorado had snow tumble from a synthetic roof. Two children and their mother were hospitalized. Avalanching snow is serious business, and we make sure our clients know this. Even if you’re in a location that gets only four or five strong snow storms each year, you need to get snow guards. 

Q: How important does your company believe it is to install snow guards? 

Nick: It’s critical. We believe in snow guards so much with synthetic roofs that we only install DaVinci Roofscapes composite roofs with a full snow retention plan. We’re such firm believers in the importance of a snow retention system on a synthetic slate or shake roof that we are willing to walk away from a project if a client refuses to include the full snow retention plan.  

Q: What do the snow guards actually do? 

Nick: The snow guards are strategically placed to break up the melting snows so that the snow does not come avalanching down in sheets. Those snow guards are attached very firmly in place by special Woodbinder® screws provided by Rocky Mountain Snow Guards for the Rocky Guards, STs and Yetis, specifically designed for DaVinci products, which are fantastic. They’re self-sealing, self-tapping screws that have a wide head that completely encapsulates a rubber gasket that seals to the top of the snow guard strap. 

Check out the tests done on these screws. They placed a column of water on top of their screws fastened at just 50% into a DaVinci tile and started watching for leaks. After a couple weeks they ended the study because there was still no leaking. Impressive. 

Q: What kind of retrofitting snow guard projects are you getting involved in? 

Nick: Much of the snow retention work we do comes from homeowners who have realized — ideally by observation, but sometimes through an accident — that their previous contractor either didn’t include a snow retention system at all, or tried to go the easy way out and randomly fastened snow stops to the roof.  

Here’s how we determine where to install snow guards. We use satellite imagery to get the measurements of a roof. Then we share that data with Rocky Mountain Snow Guards. They create a plan with the recommended snow retention system layout and the quantity of snow guards. They’re the professionals. They take into consideration key elements like a home’s decking, garage doors, entry doors and slopes. We use their plan and install the snow guards precisely where they recommend.  

Q: What’s involved in retrofitting snow guards on a DaVinci project? 

Nick: Retrofitting snow guards to a DaVinci roof is always more difficult (and expensive) than installing them during the original installation of the roof. It’s just easier and smarter to do it when the original roof is installed. That said, of course it can be done. Depending on the steepness, location and number of snow guards, our prices ranged from $20 to $25 per snow guard to install. This covers the material, labor, warranty and time to get the project completed. Homeowners should always get an estimate from their roofer before starting any job like this.  

Q: You’re in the snowy Colorado mountains. How have the DaVinci and Rocky Mountain Snow Guards products been holding up in your rough weather area? 

Nick: We’re in a location that can get 20” snow storms back-to-back. Clients who have had the roofing and snow guards for several years are still ecstatic. The products are working well long-term, plus they’re maintaining their appearance. That’s a win-win for us and for the homeowners. Here’s what some of them have to say: 

“The snow guards that Nick and his team installed on our DaVinci roof really ‘held’ the snow on our roof so it melted slower. That’s a huge benefit so the snow doesn’t come crashing down on our dog run or outside deck area.” - Andrew Vogler 

“Before the snow guards were installed we had sheets of snow simply flying off our roof. I was always worried about our children on our back deck and their safety. With the snow guards in place now the snow falls off in small, simple pieces. My worries are gone and it’s so much more manageable.” - Christy Holman 

Learn more about DaVinci Roofscapes here.   

Have a question? AskARoofer

Find your local roofing contractor in the RoofersCoffeeShop® Contractor Directory.

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