Snow Guard Layout Design 101

Why are you saying that I need more than the base rows of snow guards?

Snow guard installation on metal roofs diagram

One of the most common questions we receive in this business has to do with why we recommend the snow guard patterns that we do and how we came to that conclusion. I want to give you a look into our thought process on this matter in the determination of snow guard numbers for your specific project.

First, we need to look at the purpose of snow guards. Snow guards are lower profile, pad-like objects that are fastened to the roof and give the snow pack something to ‘grab’ onto so it does not avalanche off the roof all at once. The number of snow guards that are required is determined by a variety of factors that must be known prior to Rocky Mountain Snow Guards making any recommendations. These include the material on the roof, the pitch of the roof, the ground or roof snow load for the area the project is located in and the dimensions of the areas that require snow retention.

Snow guards are then installed according to our layout pattern all over the roof surface. 99.8% of the time, the base pattern is 3 rows of snow guards placed at the eave with the snow guards staggered in a tighter configuration (usually 24” o/c horizontally x 12”, or 1 course of material, vertically). Notice that we now refer to these as the ‘BASE ROWS’ and not the ‘minimum eave rows’. It is almost always the case, except on very shallow pitches (less than 4/12) and with porous, grippy roofing materials (asphalt shingles and REAL wood shake are usually the only materials that fall into this category), that supplemental snow guards WILL BE REQUIRED above the eave base rows for the system to function as intended.

The reasoning behind these supplemental guards is NOT to sell more product. Through years of good, old-fashioned trial and error we have come to determine that the presence of supplemental guards greatly enhances the effectiveness of the snow guard system. They allow the entire snowpack to be stabilized as to not over-burden the base rows which can actually cause an even more dangerous situation. The long and the short answer to this is that you do NEED them and your system will not function without them.

The purpose of the base rows is only to provide a stronger 'grip' right at the eave and they will not actually stop the snow pack from moving forward, as is the case with a snow fence. Snow guards are sold to be a less obvious and less expensive alternative to the optimum snow retention recommendation (a snow fence). This is why you will see snow fencing on most high-liability and commercial projects.

We believe it is also important to have your system installed by a highly reputable, insured roofing contractor. They can typically get us the information we require to engineer a system and also ensure that your snow guard system will be long lasting and attractive on your building/home.

Please fill out the layout request form to get layout help from the experts at Rocky Mountain Snow Guards.


If you are thinking this is a new concept, even people in the old country knew the importance of supplemental rocks:

The original \"rocky guards\" snow guards

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