Ice and water barriers

Ice and water barriers

Ice and water barriers for your roof

Roofing systems available in the market today are the product of years of innovation and engineering advancements. A roofing system is an integrated system of roof components that help a roof perform better against the elements.

There are three main layers of a roof system. Roof shingles are the most visible layer, but the other components, such as underlayment, ice and water barriers, ventilation, and insulation, all work together to help your roof do its job. Because they adhere to the roof deck, ice and water underlayment products create a waterproof barrier on your roof and help to keep moisture out.

What is ice and water shield?

Ice and water barrier is a self-adhering rubberized membrane that protects your roof from leaking due to excessive water conditions. These conditions occur during wind-driven rain and even more so during water back from ice dams.

The areas with the most water leaks

There are several areas of your roof especially susceptible to water penetration that ice and water barrier will serve to prevent. The entire perimeter of your roof near the eaves is the most obvious during the winter when you can sometimes see the ice dams from the ground. In other areas, you may not think about skylights, chimneys, and all the “channels” where roof lines merge.

Although water is highly compliant with the laws of gravity, wind and water back from ice dams cause water to move up, more accurately. Roofing nails are covered so downward moving water never reaches them. Since the nails used to secure your roofing shingles also poke holes, this creates ripe conditions for leaks whenever water moves backward.


The 3 types of ice and water shield

There are 3 types of ice and water shield: granular/sand surface, smooth, and high heat.

Granular or sand surface ice and water shield is used in roof valleys and it is the thinnest of the 3 types. Even though it’s not as thick, it serves the same purpose and does the job well.

Ice and water shield in a roof valley

Smooth surface ice and water shield is used on low-slope roofs. This type fits the situation we mentioned in the first section when a roof has a 2/12, 3/12, or 4/12 pitch.

Ice and water shield on a low-slope roof

High-heat ice and water shields are made of cotton-like fibers that are used primarily on metal roofs. Because of the material, it’s made of, it won’t stick to the metal as it expands and contracts.

High heat ice and water shield

This prevents the metal panels from destroying the integrity of the ice and water shield. While high-heat ice and water shields are used on metal, they are also used with premium roof systems (slate and cedar shake) to add extra protection.

Prevention Strategies for Ice Dams

By making sure your attic is adequately insulated and ventilated, you can help prevent ice dams from forming in the first place. One of the primary causes of rooftop snowmelt is improper attic ventilation. The idea is for the attic temperature to be the same as the exterior temperature. Both air leakage through the ceiling and minimal or insufficient insulation can contribute to elevated attic temperatures. Properly located ventilation with a sufficient net-free area can help direct the warm air away from the attic minimizing snowmelt.

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