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Your Guide to Choosing the Best Roof Material for Snow

Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, we face everything from strong Nor’easters to heavy winter snowfall, and our roofs can take a beating. Our roof protects us from the elements, but it begins to deteriorate over time. Unfortunately, a damaged roof can result in leaks, water damage, and more. 

So, if it’s time for a roof replacement, what’s the best roof material for snow? You have many options, but some materials are better suited to protect your commercial building. Read on to discover the ideal roof materials for winter. 

Winter Storm Elements That Damage Roofs

When you live in an area that sees a lot of snowy winters, you need a roof that can withstand strong winds, the weight of ice and snow, and the freeze/thaw cycles. 

Let’s cover each of these threats in more detail so you know what to look for in your new roof. 

Strong Winds

High winds can hit your roof from multiple directions, especially during a strong winter storm or Nor’easter. In fact, these weather events bring rain, heavy snow, and gale-force winds stronger than 58 miles per hour. That means you need a roof tough enough to handle those strong winds when they come through. 

Older roofs often can’t withstand these storms, and high winds will lift asphalt shingles and cause extensive damage. 

Heavy Snow

The weight of snow varies depending on whether it’s light and fluffy, wet, or tightly compacted. For example, drifted compacted snow can weigh 20 pounds or more per cubic foot. 

So, how much can a roof hold? That also depends on several variables, such as structural design and pitch, the durability of the shingles, and the type of snow.

One roof might struggle to hold the weight after a bad snowstorm, while another down the block may be just fine. It all depends on the design and the materials. 

It’s a good idea to get periodic roofing inspections to examine the state of your roof and spot problems. 

When it comes to snow removal from a roof, some people choose to use snow roof rakes. However, doing this yourself may cause injury and damage the roofing materials. If you have a flat roof on your commercial building, call a roofing expert to have them remove the snow. 

Ice Dams

Water is always a concern when it comes to your roof, but it can become even more of a problem when it freezes. When the snow melts, it makes its way toward your gutters. That snowmelt can freeze and block drainage, resulting in water backing up and seeping under the shingles and into the building. 

Moisture can damage insulation and drywall. Plus, dark, damp areas are the perfect breeding ground for mildew and mold. 

So, now that we’ve covered what your roof needs to hold up against, let’s go over the types of roofs that can withstand snow and ice. 

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing makes an excellent choice for commercial buildings because it can withstand the elements. Plus, metal lasts a lot longer than asphalt. In fact, it can last between 30-45 years

Snow and ice often slide right off of metal roofing, which protects your commercial property against heavy snow accumulation. Certain types of metal roofing also withstand high winds well. 

That said, metal roofing may require additional insulation. This style is also prone to corrosion. However, adding protective layers can prevent this and extend the lifespan of your roof. 

Fiberglass Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most affordable roofing options, and they’re readily available. They’re good at insulating and retaining heat and last anywhere from 20-30 years with proper care. 

That said, asphalt isn’t always the best choice for brutal winter weather. They might crack during bad weather and may require frequent replacements and maintenance. 

Asphalt is a good option if you’re looking for affordability and plan to keep up with regular roof inspections. 

Slate Roofing

When it comes to roofs that can withstand snow, slate is one of your best options. It’s durable enough to hold up even in the worst winter storms, despite heavy winds and layers of ice and snow. In fact, slate has an average wind speed resistance of 110 MPH. 

Slate is also eco-friendly, making it a popular choice among homeowners. Plus, it has a lifespan of around 100 years or longer with proper care. 

The downside to slate roofing is that it’s expensive to install, and your building may require additional structural support. 

Synthetic Shingles

Synthetic shingles are lightweight and mimic the look of wood or stone. They’re a good choice in cold climates as they’re durable enough to withstand high winds and resist freeze-thaw cycles. 

In addition, synthetic materials have good insulative values and can improve energy efficiency. 

One of the biggest benefits of synthetic shingles is that they mimic the look of wood or stone but aren’t prone to rot, cracking, splitting, warping, etc. 

Factors to Consider When Buying a New Roof

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best roofs for cold climates. You want a material that can withstand the elements and last longer, especially in wintery conditions. However, you also must consider energy efficiency, as you don’t want energy costs to skyrocket. 

You want everyone in the building to feel comfortable despite the outside temperatures. That may mean adding additional insulation. 

Metal and asphalt are two of the most common options for commercial purposes. Metal is more durable but also more expensive. Asphalt is cheaper but requires regular maintenance and won’t last as long. 

What’s the Best Roof Material for Snow? 

In the end, what’s the best roof material for snow? Metal or synthetic roofing materials can withstand the wintery elements well while still being affordable. However, any option on this list makes a good choice. 

To determine the best fit for your building, talk to us here at Matrix Roofing. Browse our services, and then send us a message or call us to discuss your options and set up an appointment. 

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