Most homes built in regions that experience heavy snowfall have roof types that can handle loads of snow from 15 to 30 pounds per square foot. According to FEMA, one pound of fresh snow can weigh anywhere from 3psf for light snow and 21psf for heavy wet snow.
Snow can build up fast in roof valleys or in areas where two slopes meet. Not only that but melting snow can create ice patches, which are even heavier per square foot than wet snow.
So will your roof hold up with all this extra weight?
If you’re wondering if your roof type has what it takes to withstand your regional winter snowfall, read on to find out which three roof types are best for heavy snow conditions.
1. Best Roof Shape for Heavy Snow
Having a roof with many valleys or slopes that meet may give a house a luxurious look, however, these valleys cause snow to build up. Also, roofs with chimneys, gables windows, porch roofs, and skylights collect snowdrifts.
Taking all that into consideration, the best roof shape for heavy snow regions is a multi-span gable roof. This is because there a fewer spots for the snow to accumulate, making it more likely to slide off on its own.
2. Best Roof Slope Slope for Heavy Snow
It’s probably quite obvious that the steeper the roof slope, the easier it is for a roof to shed snow more effectively. This is why you see greater roof slopes on buildings in the northern States and in mountainous snow-prone regions.
According to FEMA, having a roof slope of 30° or greater is optimal in keeping snow from building up on your roof. That isn’t to say that snow won’t fall off a roof with a more gentle slope. You might have to just give it a friendly nudge with a broom or a shovel.
3. Best Roofing Material for Heavy Snow
This is probably the most debatable out of the 3 best roof type categories, as there are many pros and cons to each type of roofing material that’s out there. The factors to look at when choosing a roofing material to withstand heavy snowfall are its durability in extremely cold weather and its energy efficiency.
Overall, metal roofing is considered the best type of roofing material for the cold. Metal is a resilient material that can withstand harsh temperature changes and is virtually maintenance-free.
A metal roof will also protect your house against the heavy weight of the snow. And because it’s a very slippery material, it causes snow to slide off more readily, while other materials make snow stick.
Other top-rated materials for heavy snowfall are slate, composite shingles, and asphalt roofing.
The Best Roof Types In One
If we put the 3 best roof types together, we can see that having a house with a multi-span gable roof at 30° pitch, covered in metal roofing material is the ultimate roof to withstand heavy snowfall.
If you found this article useful, you might find our complete guide to protecting your roof just as helpful.