Summary: Snow Guard Evolution (so far)

Over the course of multiple blogs, I’ve shared my opinion about the history and evolution of snow guards, as both the roofing industry and new technology have dictated. As I write and reread these postings, there are several underlying themes. One theme is that, in our quest to find better solutions to problems, change is constant. This is a good thing – when all goes well. I’m sure we can all think of changes that were good ideas and changes that were bad ideas.

A good, natural progression of the snow management industry relates to parts from two different eras. In the 1800’s, typical double locked standing seams were formed on sheet metal bending equipment, or were hand made in the field using forming tools.

However, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, as roll forming technology evolved and standing seams started to take on more proprietary shapes, a more universal solution was needed. The Berger patent from the 1890’s (left) and the Cline patent from 1995 (right) are both clamp-to-seam pad-style snow guards – basically the same shapes with a better means of attachment.

Another resounding theme, if all parties would admit it, is that the construction industry has recognized for years that snow and ice mitigation is necessary. However, this is a little secret that no one really wants to discuss. Building owners don’t want liability from falling snow and ice. The video and news article below, while not good news, illustrate the importance of rooftop snow management.

Architects are resistant to aesthetic complications.

Roofing contractors, in many cases, and often in the residential sector, don’t seem to understand the need – or maybe they simply forgot to include it in their bids? This would require them to wing it to satisfy the building owners demand.

Often, when new products evolve, no one really thinks ahead about snow and ice mitigation or how you would attach a snow management solution.

(Above image: The Dome at America’s Center, St. Louis, MO – Alpine’s PP115 system for membrane roofing installed)

Several years back, I joined a group of industry professionals whose goal is to develop a specification that designers can use to help guide them in selecting a suitable snow management solution for their project. The process has been slow, but the good news is that there has been progress. I’ll do my best to keep readers up-to-date as standards and test procedures become available. In the meantime, I maintain that snow management products are necessary and they do what they were designed to do when used properly.

During my slate roofing days, I observed roofs with wire loop snow guards installed between every piece of slate. In my opinion, for slate roofs that are 1/2” thick or less, in regions with snow accumulations of 70psf or less, there is no better solution. The same system would not work well on a roof with shingles that are greater than 1/2” at the butt in a region where snowfall exceeds 70 psf. The point being that different roof types, in different regions, with drifting, ice accumulation, roof obstructions, etc., require different solutions. As changes occur, the industry will continue to evolve.  

Find a snow guard manufacturer who has roofing expertise and experience (not just a sales rep who specializes in accounting), and seek good advice. This isn’t a “cookie cutter” business. Possibly 60% of shingle roofs could benefit from the same stock snow management solution. Don’t let yourself or your clients become part of the 40% that really needed something unique but were sold on the system that the salesman or shingle representative just happened to have available.

As always, if you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me either via email (, or by leaving a comment on this post.

Next time, I’ll go over some very important do’s, don’t and dilemmas related to snow guards and residential construction.

Until then….

Brian Stearns

President & Founder, Alpine SnowGuards

We keep snow in its place


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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, solar installers and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits