Types of Snow Guards for Metal Roofs - Roof Critics (2024)

Snow guards are indispensable if you live in a region with heavy snowfall. They prevent snow from falling suddenly from the roof, averting possible damage and accidents on the ground.

Unfortunately, the sheer number of snow guard designs, styles, and attachment methods can make selection challenging. So, we’ve developed this guide to help you choose the best snow guard system for your property.h

Best snow guards for metal roofs

ColorGard is the most popular snow guard system for metal roofs. It’s compatible with all metal roof panel profiles and the only snow retention system covered by a lifetime warranty. In addition, colorGard snow retention systems are available in multiple colors to match your metal roof.

What’s a Snow Guard?

A snow guard, also known as a snow retention system, is a roof structure designed to prevent snow and ice from falling suddenly or in large amounts. It temporarily retains the snow, allowing it to melt completely or fall to the ground in small amounts.

The absence of snow guards increases the risk of a “roof avalanche,” the sudden release of snow and ice.

An avalanche can damage your gutters, skylights, and the lower ends of the shingles. Worse still, it poses a serious injury risk to people below the roof edge.

Types of Snow Guards for Metal Roofs

There are two main ways to categorize snow guards: attachment method and style/design.

Snow Guard Types by Attachment Method

The four main ways to attach snow guards are glue, clamps, screws, or peel-and-stick. Here’s what you need to know about each;

1. Glue-on Snow Guards

Gluing is the most cost-effective way to attach snow retention systems to the roof. But more importantly, it’s about as strong as other options, albeit less durable.

The method is most commonly used to attach polycarbonate (pad-style) snow guards. The adhesive takes 6-72 hours to cure fully, though it takes longer at temperatures below 50F.

The main advantage of gluing snow guards to the roof is flexibility. The attachment method allows you to attach any polycarbonate snow guard to any metal roof panel profile, including standing seam roofs. Additionally, there’s no risk of water leaks because there’s no penetration.

However, note that load balancing is critical for pad-style snow retention systems. So, consider professional layouts instead of DIY.

2. Mechanically-Fastened Snow Guards

Mechanically fastened snow retention systems are screwed to the roof surface. It’s applicable for pad-style guards, snow bars, and rail-type snow retention systems and can be used on all metal roof systems except a standing seam metal roof.

Mechanically attached snow retention systems stand out for their high load-bearing capacity. Therefore, they’re the go-to snow retention systems for metal roofs in regions with heavy snowing.

However, they pose a familiar challenge – leaks. The screws must penetrate the lumber or metal framing beneath the roof for a sturdy hold. But this creates the risk of roof leaks. Moreover, it may void the roof warranty.

Use #14 screws with neoprene washers to minimize leak risk when installing pad-style guards. Alternatively, use large color bracket mounts for bar or rail guard systems. The S-5! Versa-Bracket is a good example of a mechanically attached snow retention system.

3. Clamp-on Snow Guards for Metal Roof

Clamping is strictly used to mount rail and bar-style snow guards. The clamps don’t penetrate the roof surface. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about leaks or ruining the roof warranty.

So, how do they work? It’s easy. Clamp-on snow guards have a unique mechanism for pinching to the seams using bolts, nuts, and washers. Typically, two bolts (or screws) squeeze or clamp the guards.

A major advantage of clamp-on guards over rail systems is affordability. Clamp-on snow retention system costs about a third of the price of a snow rail system. This is mainly because a clamp-on system has fewer parts.

Additionally, they are easier to install and don’t require sealing after installation. The best examples are Snow Guard Sno Shield Ribs and Snow Defender’s model 85RF.

4. Peel-and-Stick Snow Guards

Finally, a few companies make convenient peel-and-stick snow retention systems. They are the easiest to install. First, peel the cover from the base to reveal a sticky underside. Then stick the snow retention system to the roof.

In addition, many homeowners love them because they are affordable and easy to install. Anyone who can get on the roof can easily install peel-and-stick snow guards, provided you space them correctly.

The main downside is that they are weaker than other snow retention systems and thus come off more easily. Therefore, we recommend applying extra adhesive, ideally SB-190, for a stronger bond.

Snow-Breaker Peel-n-Stick guards are the best examples of peel-and-stick snow guards. The package includes 25 snow breakers that adhere to most metal panels with at least 1.5 inches of flat area. You can install them in any weather, including cooler weather. However, it’s best to attach them in fair weather.

Snow Guard Types by Design Style

Besides the attachment method, snow retention systems vary by design or style. Therefore, we prefer to group the different styles into two broad categories – continuous and unitized/discontinuous – for easy understanding.

5. Continous snow retention systems

A continuous snow retention system runs the whole length of the roof. It comprises at least two members, a bracket or seam clamp that attaches to the roof, and cross members anchored to the brackets or clamps to restain snow. A continuous snow retention system can comprise one or more cross-members.

The best examples of continuous snow retention systems are snow rails, fences, and pipe/bar-style snow guards.

6. Bar-Style Snow Guard for Metal Roofs

A snow bar, or bar-style snow guard, is a continuous rectangular metal bar that connects to a bracket mechanically attached to the decking or roof framing or clamped to the seams. It’s installed horizontally across the metal roof, forming an ice and snow barrier.

You only need one row in moderate climates. However, some projects require more rows. The ColorGard system by S-5! is a good example of bar-style snow guards.

7. Snow Fences for Metal Roof

Snow fences are similar to bar-style snow guards. However, they feature one or more tubes instead of triangular bars. The Blizzard II Clamp-to-Seam snow retention system is the perfect example.

A snow fence can be attached via screws or clamps. Screws penetrate the roof surface, while clamps don’t. Thus, screwed models are stronger. Indeed, some mechanically fastened snow fences can withstand snow loads exceeding 75 pounds per square foot.

8. Snow Rails for Metal Roof

A snow rail is a snow fence for standing seam roofs. It’s a continuous pipe-style snow guard that utilizes one or more bars to prevent roof avalanches. S-5!’s SnoRail is the perfect example.

Unfortunately, snow rails require professional installation to maintain the roof’s appeal. Speak with your roofer to discuss your options.

9. Discontinuous Snow Retention Systems

Meanwhile, discontinuous or unitized systems are staggered pieces lined up and across the roof slope. The “system” can comprise one or more components. They work by “bridging” snowpacks to span between adjacent devices, limiting snow migration.

Many names know discontinuous snow guards. These include clip-style guards, snow cleats, dogs, jacks, and pad-style snow guards. However, they are similar and work the same way.

Several units are installed in rows across the roof, with the highest concentration near the eaves. Thus, they retain snow on the roof for longer until it melts. Furthermore, they cause friction as the snow slides down the roof, further increasing melting.

The sizes vary, though. Low-profile units have a pad area (the surface area that attaches to the roof) of four square inches or less. Therefore, they’re best for low-load applications. Meanwhile, large-profile units have pad areas of up to 10 square inches to contain heavier snow loads.

Snow Guard Types By Material

Finally, snow guards come in various materials, notably plastic, extruded aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and cast aluminum.

Plastic is the cheapest material but also the least durable. Meanwhile, metal guards are more expensive but last longer. Stainless steel units are the most durable. Moreover, stainless steel is rust-resistant. However, brass is more stylish and corrosion-resistant.

Finally, of the aluminum options, cast aluminum offers more design styles. However, extruded aluminum is stronger.

Best Snow Guards for Metal Roofs

You must check with the biggest brands to find the best snow guards. The following are the best five snow guard and retention systems from the top brands.

1. ColorGard Snow Guards by S-5!


  • It’s extremely strong and durable
  • Color-matching for maximum curb appeal
  • Free lifetime material/defect warranty


  • It’s a tad expensive

ColorGard from S-5! is the best snow guard system for metal roofs. The brand makes half a dozen snow retention systems for different settings. These include Dual-Guard, SnoRail, SnoFence, X-Guard 1.0, and X-Guard 2.0. However, ColorGard stands out among them all.

It’s made from 100% aluminum and steel components for maximum durability. Moreover, it offers color-matching to maintain curb appeal.

The package comprises three main members, a punched slot member punched every four inches on-center, an unpunched cross member, and a splice to join adjacent cross members.

VersaClips (purchased separately) are needed to connect cross members to any S-5 railing system. However, other parts are optional.

ColorGard snow guards are available in two designs for exposed faster and standing seam metal roof systems. They cost $3 to $15 per linear foot of assembly.

1. Snow Trax or MRC Snow Trax Snow Guards (by ST Fastening Systems)


  • The rubber gasket ensures maximum guard adhesion
  • Available in 28 colors to suit every need
  • Different systems for exposed fasteners and standing seam roofs


  • No lifetime warranty

ST Fastening Systems offers Snow Trax systems for exposed fastener metal roofs and MRC Snow Trax systems for standing seam metal roofs.

Snow Trax systems are made using 16-gauge, 304 stainless steel for longevity and maximum performance. In addition, they’re coated with powder coat paint to match your roofing panels. At least 28 color choices are available to suit every need. Alternatively, you can opt for unpainted Snow Trex Guards.

MRC Snow Trex guards are just as effective. Moreover, they feature a color rail bent out of the customer’s inventory for maximum satisfaction. Also, customers can independently verify product testing.

An EPDM rubber gasket ensures an airtight seal, while Kwikseal MB Woodbinder screws guarantee greater attachment strength. Above all, ST Fastening System snow guards carry 25-year product warranties.

3. RMG Premium Snow Guards (by SS Snow Stoppers)


  • Made from 14-gauge stainless steel
  • Holds strongly to the roof
  • Available in 20+ colors


  • Warranty information is not clear

SS Snow Stoppers make beautiful snow restaining systems that hold snow and ice temporarily until it melts away slowly. However, the stoppers arrest snow without hurting the roof’s appeal. We specifically recommend the RMG Premium snow stoppers.

Unfortunately, the company only provides a little information about its products on its website. However, we know that it makes RMG Premium and SS-G snow stoppers. SS-G Classic snow stoppers are all-stainless steel snow stoppers with a powder-coated finish. Meanwhile, MRG Premium snow stoppers are constructed using 14-gauge stainless steel.

Thus MRG Premium snow guards are superior. However, both snow arrest systems are outfitted with two 7/16 -inch set screws for a solid bond to the roof.

SS Snow Stoppers says it provides “peace of mind” for your roof system. However, there’s no mention of a warranty. Nevertheless, the company “guarantees” that the product will work well for its lifetime without material or quality issues. Call customer support if you have any questions.

4. Dyna-Guard (by Dynamic Fastener)


  • Constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Easy to assemble and install
  • The package includes clamps, screws, and bolts


  • Warranty information is scanty

Dynamic Fastener’s Dyna-Guard snow retention systems are continuous rail constructions specifically built for metal roofs. They are easy to assemble and easier to install. More importantly, you can use them on a new or existing metal roof.

It’s an 8-foot-long, T-shaped extruded aluminum frame that arrives punched or unpunched. The aircraft-grade high-tensile aluminum 6005A T61 guarantees a long life of reliable use. Punched rails have holes every 4, 6, or 8 inches.

The rails attach to standing seams via Dyna-Clamp systems. The company provides a wide range of Dyna-Clamps to accommodate different metal roof profiles. Alternatively, you can use Dyna-Corr or Dyna-Mounts to install the snow guard rails onto the roof.

Dyna-Clamps are non-ferrous, non-piercing structures thoroughly tested by Encon Technology in Tusla, OK. They arrive with stainless steel round-point screws for easy assembly. However, the setscrews don’t piece the metal panels.

The package also includes stainless steel bolts and a screwdriver. We recommend the DC-U clamp as it’s the most versatile.

5. X-Gard 1.0 (By S-5!)


  • Easy-to-install clamp-on system
  • Equally good or low and high-load conditions
  • Very affordable (from $9.50 per linear foot)


  • The pieces are rather short

We’ve already seen ColorGard from S-5! X-Gard systems are other exceptional snow guard systems from the company. Specifically, we recommend the X-Gard 1.0, a clamp-on snow retention system designed for metal roofs.

X-Gard 1.0 snow retention systems are made for maximum load/span conditions, making them perfect for heavy snowfall locations. You can also use them in light-duty applications. However, you only need a few anchorage points in this case. They work best on insulated panel (IMP) roofs with 36-48-inch seam spacing.

S-5!’s X-Gard snow guards are characterized by an ultra-strong 8-foot NEX cross-member that spans up to four feet between attachment points. The propriety octagonal cross-member is also stronger than round pipes and prevents rotation. Your distributor can paint or powder-coat the snow guard to match your roof.

X-Gard snow guards don’t interfere with roof warranties thanks to a zero-penetration installation mechanism and only cost $9.50 to $14 per linear foot. Alternatively, consider the longer X-Gard 2.0, which costs $20 to $25 per linear foot

Factors to Consider to Consider When Choosing Snow Guards for Metal Roofs

Snow guards are often a personal choice as most states don’t have laws enforcing snow retention systems, even in heavy winter areas. Nevertheless, choosing the right snow retention system is important if you install one. Consider the following factors;

  • Roof type and pitch:What type of roof do you have? Is it an exposed fastener or a standing seam metal roof? Also, is it a flat, low-pitch, or high-pitch roof? All these factors affect snow retention system installation.
  • Roof guard material:As we’ve seen, snow guards come in various materials, from stainless steel to aluminum, plastic, and brass. The material affects strength, durability, and aesthetics. It also impacts the price.
  • Durability:The durability of a snow retention system depends mainly on the construction material and installation method. For instance, plastic snow guards are the least durable, while stainless steel systems can last 10+ years.
  • Style/appearance:This is a personal choice. For instance, snow bars and fences are almost identical. However, you may prefer one to the other. The same applies to pad-style and clip-style guards. Feel free to choose a style that complements your roof style.
  • Snow load in your area:You need stronger, more effective snow retention systems in an area prone to snow avalanches. Thus, plastic snow guards need to make more sense in this case. Similarly, a snow fence makes little sense in warm climates with short, light winters.

How Many Snow Guards do I Need?

Unfortunately, this is a complex subject best determined on a case-by-case basis. But generally, you should install one staggered row across the lower roof edge every two feet for 0-2/12 pitch roofs, two staggered rows for 2/12 to 6/12 roofs, and two continuous rows of snow guards on roofs steeper than 6/12.

Where do you Put Snow Guards on a Metal Roof?

For the first set of snow guards, place the first row of snow retention systems at or slightly above the exterior load-bearing wall and the second row 25 inches above the center of the first row. If installing a second set of guards, place them 6-8 feet above the first set for steep roofs or 10-15 feet for low-pitched roofs.

How far Apart do you Put Snow Guards on a Metal Roof?

The distance between snow guards depends on the snow load in the region, the roof slope, and the snow retention system type. However, standard snow guards are installed 12 inches apart on each metal panel for 16-inch wide metal panels.

Installing Snow Guards: How Are Snow Guards Installed/Attached?

Installing snow guards is best left to the experts. Nevertheless, you can do it yourself if you’re confident in your DIY skills.

Begin by taking safety precautions. For instance, avoid wet or windy days. Also, wear safety equipment, including a safety harness and non-slip shoes. Above all, use a steady ladder.

The next step is measuring the roof panels to determine the snow guard installation location. Staggering is the best approach, as it ensures maximum snow retention. We recommend starting the first row of guards one foot from the roof edge and the second row two feet from the edge. Repeat the pattern for successive rows.

Mark the installation points using a permanent marker up to the midway point of the roof. Only install snow guards at the midway point of the roof.

Once you’ve marked the installation locations, proceed as follows;

  1. Prepare the installation area:A dirty surface prevents a good seal, especially when using glue-on snow guards. So, clean the surface and allow it to dry.
  2. Install the snow guards:The installation steps depend on the type of snow guard. So, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the best results.
  3. Allow the seals to cure:This only applies to glue-on and peel-and-stick snow guards. Most units take 6-24 hours to cure fully in fair weather.

Snow Guard Costs

Snow guard costs depend on the type of snow guard and the material. For instance, a bracket-style snow guard costs $3 to $5 per piece, while bar-style snow guards cost up to $100 per 8-foot section. Meanwhile, installation costs are as high as $30 per guard.

What Else do You Need to Know?

  • Snow guards are known by many names, like snow brackets, snow stops, and ice guards
  • You don’t need to take down shingles when installing snow guards
  • Not everyone needs snow guard systems
  • Snow guards don’t help with ice dams.
  • Snow retention systems aren’t just for metal roofs
  • There are currently no building code requirements for snow guards
  • You can paint or finish your snow guards to match or complement the existing roof
  • Installing snow guards can lead to lower insurance costs

What’s the Best Snow Guard for Corrugated Metal Roofs?

Tubular snow retainers are the best snow retention systems for corrugated roofs. A tubular snow retainer comprises two parallel tubes attached to brackets. The snow retainers feature special elements to slice the snow into thinner layers to prevent roof avalanches.

Will Snow Guards Damage My Metal Roof?

Not necessarily. It depends on the type of snow guard and the quality of installation. For instance, glue-on snow guards are harmless little pieces that attach to the roof via adhesives. Unfortunately, poorly installed screw-on snow guards can damage the roof. In addition, inaccurate load calculation can easily cause roof cave-in.

Metal Roof Snow Guards FAQs

What are the best snow guards for standing seam metal roofs?

Berger RT200/300 is the best snow guard system for standing seam metal roofs. RT200 snow guard systems are designed for seams up to 3/16 inches and suited for light-gauge metal roofs, such as 26-gauge galvanized steel.

Meanwhile, RT300 accommodates seams up to 9/12 inches and is suited for heavy-gauge roofs such as 24-gauge pre-finished metal roofs.

Plastic snow guards for metal roofs, do they work?

Unfortunately, glued-on plastic snow guards have low holding strength. Moreover, they are susceptible to harsh weather, like heavy winds and storms.

The bond weakens naturally, failing after a few years. Nevertheless, plastic snow guards work exceptionally in moderate winters for the first few years.

Do snow guards work?

Yes, snow guards work. They slow down the snow falling from your roof, reducing the risk of roof avalanches. Also, snow guards spread out the snow or ice load, reducing the risk of roof cave-in. However, be warned that snow guards alone cannot protect your roof from snow damage.

Are snow guards worth it?

Yes, snow guards are worth it if you live in a location with heavy winters. First, snow guards help prevent roof avalanches. An avalanche can damage the gutters, fascia, and other structures at the bottom end of the roof.

Additionally, snow guards reduce the risk of roof cave-in by evenly distributing the weight of accumulated roof snow.


Metal roof snow guards are critical to prevent roof avalanches and prevent accidents in heavy-winter climates. However, it’s even more important to choose the right snow guards. We recommend working with an experienced roofer to avoid common mishaps.

Types of Snow Guards for Metal Roofs - Roof Critics (2024)


Types of Snow Guards for Metal Roofs - Roof Critics? ›

Clamp on snow guards are a good option for those who have a standing seam metal roof. It is the most popular kind of snow guard. This type of snow guard does not penetrate the roof, but is attached mechanically giving it a lot of holding strength and can be attached during any season.

What is the best type of snow guard? ›

Clamp on snow guards are a good option for those who have a standing seam metal roof. It is the most popular kind of snow guard. This type of snow guard does not penetrate the roof, but is attached mechanically giving it a lot of holding strength and can be attached during any season.

Should metal roofs have snow guards? ›

Any area, such as snow country, that receives heavy snowfall should definitely have snow guards installed on a metal roof. If your area doesn't necessarily receive heavy snow but does get some snowfall throughout the year, a snow retention system is still something you should consider.

Do snow guards cause ice dams? ›

That ice build up is actually called an 'ice dam' (read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_dam) and is caused by cooling at the eave of the roof that forms that ice block. Ice dams are not caused by nor alleviated by snow guards or snow fences.

Are plastic snow guards any good? ›

From both an economic and design perspective, glued on plastic snow guards typically have low holding strength and are unable to handle harsh weather-related elements. The bond weakens over time and when it fails, the guard can rip away paint and protective roof coatings, potentially leading to corrosion.

How to stop snow from sliding off a metal roof? ›

Ice breakers come in all sizes and shapes, including pipes, rails, stops, and fences, but the essential function of each is the same: to act as a snow deflector. These barriers prevent snow and ice from accumulating toward the sides of roofs where they might slide off and hurt someone.

When should you not use a metal roof? ›

Shingled roofing is significantly cheaper, although not nearly as durable. Metal roofs aren't good for coastal homes because salt can cause rust. Not everyone likes the sound of rain on metal, and they can be noisy during harsh storms.

What are the downsides to having a metal roof? ›

Metal roofs are long-lasting, environmentally friendly, and more durable than your standard asphalt roof. However, they are slippery, can be difficult to install properly, and may be noisy during a thunderstorm or windy weather.

Does metal roof decrease home value? ›

Metal is considered a premium roofing material and may increase your home's value. Home roofing projects involving a metal roof replacement have a nearly 50% return on investment. Allied Market Research shows metal roofs are in demand and more homeowners are choosing metal because of the many benefits it affords.

How many snow guards do I need? ›

Use: 1 snow guard per seam every 15 feet up the roof. Snow load: Up to 45 PSF ground snow load. Starting at 1 and 2 foot from the bottom edge, place a snow guard on each panel seam in a staggered pattern, across the entire roof area. Go up the roof 15 feet and repeat the staggered pattern on each panel seam.

Do you have to worry about ice dams with a metal roof? ›

Metal roofs are also far less likely to leak as a result of an ice dam. Even if you get an ice dam, there are no shingles for the water to work its way under. The only way for water to leak in is around the screws. Those screws do have rubber washers on them to seal out water, so that shouldn't be a big concern.

Will raking snow off roof prevent ice dams? ›

Do get the snow removed either by shovel or by rake, so as to minimize your risk of a cave-in and/or ice dams. Don't put any salt products on your roof—unless you want to run the risk of discolored shingles and dead plants or grass.

What is the best roof system for snow? ›

Overall, metal roofing is arguably the best overall choice when taking both factors into consideration. It's lightweight, cost-effective, and sheds snow and ice quickly, preventing ice dams that can damage your home and icicle formation that can endanger passers-by.

What is the difference between snow guards and snow fence? ›

“The snow guards are attached in a pattern above the snow fence that creates friction to hold the snow 'slab' in place while the snow fence provides a barrier beyond which the snow slab won't slide,” says Lars Walberg, president of Rocky Mountain Snow Guards.

What is the difference between snow Defender 1500 and 4500? ›

The Snow Defender 1500 and Snow Defender 4500 are designed for uses with exposed fastener panels. The patented 1500 is designed for narrow purlins in the upright or flat position or steel building Z's, while the 4500 is recommended for use with wood furring strips under metal in the flat position.

How many rows of snow guards do I need? ›

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).

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Errol Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 5423

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Errol Quitzon

Birthday: 1993-04-02

Address: 70604 Haley Lane, Port Weldonside, TN 99233-0942

Phone: +9665282866296

Job: Product Retail Agent

Hobby: Computer programming, Horseback riding, Hooping, Dance, Ice skating, Backpacking, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Errol Quitzon, I am a fair, cute, fancy, clean, attractive, sparkling, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.