4 Tips for Well Functioning Low Slope Metal Roofs in High Snow Elevation Climates

 

When planning a new residential construction project, one aspect that comes up for consideration is the design and intended performance of the roof. An arising trend in the market is low slope roofing. What’s so great about low slope roofs? They’re durable and energy efficient — not to mention the refreshing aesthetic appeal.

A low slope roof in a high snow elevation climate can be tricky — but not impossible. If you decide to move forward with a low slope metal roof for your future residential or commercial project, keep these five tips in mind for a high performing, long lasting roof.

 

Tip 1. Designing Your Roof

A well functioning roof begins with the design. The first consideration lies in the obvious — classic roofs have a steep pitch, designed to shed water and snow. A low sloped roof in high snow elevation climates has a pitch of 2:12 or lower and requires a professional strategy to prevent snow buildup that can damage the structural integrity of your roof.

A slope to wall angle creates a wonderful aesthetic, but we urge you to work with experienced and trusted architects and general contractors to make sure your roof pitch is designed in a way to appropriately shed water off the roof.

For example, an experienced roofer and architect will design to avoid situations where water flows into exterior walls. They may recommend against an inverted slope, where the slope points into the house or building. While it’s easy on the eyes, it’s not so easy on your wallet. This is essentially doing the opposite of what roofs should be doing — it pushes any precipitation straight into your building.

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Tip 2. Selecting Materials For Your Roof

Homes and buildings in high snow elevation climates need careful consideration when it comes to metal roofing materials. There are various specific metal roofing systems that vary widely, such as kynar coated systems, various gauge size (22-26g), different panel profiles, clip and snap on systems — all that have pros and cons in preservation of performance for your roof — especially in areas susceptible to large amounts of precipitation.

Other materials you may want to consider include butyl tape and heat systems that help amplify the performance of your low sloped metal roof.

Butyl Tape

Butyl tape is an adhesive tape made from synthetic rubber. This synthetic rubber is particularly resistant to extreme temperature changes, beating sun, and precipitation — making it the ideal barrier to extend the lifetime of your low sloped metal roof.

Butyl tape is not a material commonly included in specifications because it tends to incur additional cost and therefore will need to be specifically outlined in your roofing project plan.

At Viotell, we recommend incorporating butyl tape during your roof installation, particularly if you’re asking for a low sloped roof. This detail helps mitigate water and ice penetrating your roof seams and potentially causing damage to your interior.

Heat Systems

When it comes to a roof with a minimal slope, you’ll need to consider the most efficient strategy for your roof to melt snow and ice during Park City’s harsh winter months. You can accomplish this through the installation of heat systems.

  • — Heat Tape: A wiring system encased with waterproofed material to melt ice and snow into a manageable flow and methodically remove it from your roof. This product is attached to the roof via clamps or fasteners depending on your roof type (i.e. shingles, metal roof, etc.) and is exposed to the elements outside of the roof material.
  • — Under panel heat system: This is typically a heat cable and/or physical panels below the most exterior roof product (i.e. metal roof panel) or between your roof and the insulation of your home to gradually melt snow and ice off your roof, preventing ice dams from occurring. While these systems tend to be more complex and comprehensive both in scope and pricing, they are protected from the elements by the roofing material.

 

Tip 3. Ensuring Your Roof is Properly Insulated and Ventilated

Anyone who lives in a wintery climate is no stranger to the temperature fluctuation as the cold months barrel through. Your roof is always going to battle ice and water, particularly if you live in a climate such as the one we enjoy in Park City, Utah. Working with architects and general contractors to ensure your roof’s insulation is prepared for the melting and refreezing of snow, ice, and rain will be essential to avoid things such as heat loss, ice dam formation, and condensation issues.

A common question we come across at Viotell is: “Do I need a second layer of ice and water shield under my metal roofing?” It’s also a common point of contention between clients and general contractors. A second ice and water shield is a mitigation, not prevention, tactic to prevent water and ice damage to your roof. Here are some things to consider:

  • — To add your second layer of ice and water shield beneath the metal roof, you must put holes through the underlayment with clips to secure your metal roof panels. For this reason, you could have multiple layers of shields but it will not significantly impact effectiveness.
  • — A secondary water shield can make a difference on roofs with a slope less than 2:12. Some manufacturers recommend this, however, there is no guarantee it will prevent water or ice damage.

When discussing ventilation for your metal roof, contractors and architects should incorporate things such as ridge vents, soffit vents and gable vents to maximize the effectiveness of your ventilation system. Roofs must be designed to accommodate these types of systems, so be sure to understand all the nuances of these details before executing.

 

Tip 4. Preparing for Install & Maintenance

The process to install a low sloped metal roof can be complex and delicate. It is essential to work with a trusted roofer for the installation to ensure longevity and preserve the foundation of your home. If you live in a high snow elevation climate, your roof will experience considerable stress through the seasons, and needs to be prepared like so. Your roofer will be the most credible expert when it comes to industry best practices and manufacturer guidelines for proper alignment, fastening, and sealing of roof components.

You’ll also need a game plan for roof maintenance. Having a roof, and particularly a low slope metal roof, is like having a garden. Regular maintenance is essential for preserving the performance of even the best-installed roofs. After significant snowfall, schedule professional snow removal to prevent damage.

Some ways to do this:

  • — Keep an eye on the snow and ice buildup. Even the best installed roofs need attention to keep their performance high.
  • — Following a big snow storm (like we tend to experience here in Utah), schedule professional snow removal. Don’t just hire your neighbor’s kid down the block to do it — incorrect snow removal can quickly ruin your roof.

 

Closing

When embarking on a more complex project, like a low slope roof, working with the right crew to get the job done is crucial. When you live in high snow elevation climates, you’ll want to pull together the expertise of architects, contractors, engineers, and building owners.

This crew should work together to understand project requirements, preferences, and budget to achieve the best possible design and implementation to exceed your expectations. Roofing in high snow elevation areas has its nuances and requires a team with expertise in this type of roofing to ensure a successful project.

Reach out to us here for recommendations on general contractors, architects, engineers, and building owners in your area or to get a quote from us on your next project.

Anthony Ortega, COO & Partner

Anthony Ortega is a dynamic and results-driven executive with a proven track record of fostering growth and innovation. With extensive experience in business operations and high-functioning business acumen, Anthony has consistently demonstrated his ability to integrate and optimize complex business processes.

As the Chief Operating Officer of VIOTELL, Anthony oversees all facets of the company’s operations, finance, fabrication, vendor relationships, and client success. His strategic leadership and expertise in operational excellence have been instrumental in driving the company’s sustained growth and competitive edge.