Snow Retention Systems

Snow retention systems, also called snow guards, are an important addition to any roof. They not only protect you and your family from snow falling off your roof, but they also protect your gutters and your property. Without a properly installed snow retention system, snow can accumulate in your gutters, weighing them down, and potentially tearing them from your house. This is especially important for sheet metal roofs, such as standing seam. Accumulated snow from your roof can also seriously injure you or your family, and cause property damage.

a snow guard installed onto a standing seam metal roof

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What is a Snow Retention System?

Snow retention systems, also called snow guards and snow bars, are products that are installed onto roofs, especially metal roofs, such as standing seam. They hold snow back and help prevent it from sliding down the roof and causing damage to gutters or injury to those below. By holding the snow back, snow guards gives it time to melt. Snow melts either from heat rising through your roof or from the outside temperature, or both. Instead of snow sliding like an avalanche down your roof, tearing your gutters off, and landing in front your door, it slowly melts and safely runs into your gutters, and down your downspouts.

For those in high snow load areas, snow fences are an option. A snow fence is essentially a tall snow guard. Excessive snow accumulation on gutters can cause them to break away from your house. Excessive snow falling from your roof onto you or your family or pets can cause serious injury.

snow guard on a metal roof
Snow guard on metal barn roof. Photo courtesy Sno Gem

Snow Retention System Types

  • Fence
  • Individual

There are two main types of snow guards: fence and individual. The fence type of snow guard is an uninterrupted fence that runs the length of the roof. Fence options include flat, round, or square bars. Fence mounts can support up to three bars.

The individual snow guard type is a series of single guards secured to the roof in a pattern, be it a single row or staggered rows. Individual guard options include 2-3″ tall narrow surface seam mounted, individual clear or metal prism, and diamond-shaped half carat metal.

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Snow Guard Styles

Snow guards come in a wide variety of styles to suit anyone’s preference, styles such as prism, half carat, diamond, and flat, square, or round bar fence. Select guards available in clear polycarbonate, stainless steel, galvalume, or pre-finished aluminum or steel in one of dozens of colors such as seashell white, ash gray, champagne, charcole gray, matte black, dark bronze, bright red, patina green, and interstate blue.

Snow Guards for Any Roof

Most metal roofing is slick. It has a lower coefficient of friction. This means snow more easily slides down it compared to other roofing products, such as asphalt shingles, stone-coated metal shingles, or wood shake. These roofing products have a higher coefficient of friction. It takes more snow or a steeper roof pitch for the snow to break loose and avalanche. It is for this reason, there are snow guards available for all popular roofing materials.

We install snow guards for these roofing products:

  • Standing Seam Metal Roofing
  • Corrugate Metal
  • Traditional Asphalt Shingles
  • Metal Shingles
  • Cedar Shake and Shingles
  • Slate
  • Concrete and Clay Tiles
  • EPDM, TPO, and PVC
a 3-bar snow guard on a pvc flat roof
Snow guard on PVC roof. Photo courtesy Sno Gem

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The advantages of snow retention system should be obvious. For one, they prevent ice dams. Ice dams can cause serious damage to your gutters and are dangerous for people below them. Snow guards also prevent heavy snow loads from reaching your gutters and tearing them from your home or other structure. In addition, they prevent avalanches from falling onto you, your family, and/or your pets or other animals. Lastely, they prevent snow from your roof from damaging your property, such as cars parked under car ports.

snow guard on hotel roof
Snow guard on standing seam metal roof. Photo courtesy Sno Gem


Whether we installed your roof not, we can install a snow retention system for you. In addition, we can install your new snow guards regardless of which roofing material you have. When you contact us to install your snow guards, we evaluated your specific situation, such as your roofing product, roof pitch, which direction your roof faces, etc. and determine which snow guard is best for you. As with our roofing estimates, snow guard installation estimates are also free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Really Need a Snow Retention System?

It depends upon the amount of snow you get. In our Northern Colorado Front Range area, we get enough snow that they are recommended.

Do Snow Guards Cause Ice Dams?

No. Snow guards do not cause ice dams. In fact, they help prevent them. Ice dams form on the eaves of sloped roofs. The eave is that foot or so of roof that hangs over your house. Ice dams are the result of melting snow under packed snow reaching the eave and freezing. Snow guards prevent snow from reaching eaves.

snow guard installed onto residential garage
Snow guard on asphalt shingle roof. Photo courtesy Sno Gem