Snow Country Roofing Systems

The design and construction of roofs in snow-country environments such as Colorado’s high country present an unusual array of challenges. In addition to providing a high-level of protection against the risk of water leakage, snow and ice accumulation on the roof, ice damming, icicle development, and snow shedding are also important criteria to consider. Due to the extreme conditions to which snow-country roofs are exposed (which often includes high temperatures from solar radiation due to their high-altitude locations), roofing and related materials require careful selection. Detailing of roof features is particularly critical, since winter conditions can exploit deficiencies in the system. The damage caused by water leakage can be significant, and correction of these conditions can be particularly difficult since low temperatures, snow, and ice can impede repair work. Further, condensation as the result of high interior humidities can pose significant challenges to some snow-country roofing designs.

BC&E’s professional staff have evaluated performance-related problems and evaluated snow-country roofing designs on hundreds of buildings in Colorado, California, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. BC&E’s expertise includes knowledge of the variety of approaches for snow-country roofing systems, including cold attic and cold roof systems to unvented, “superinsulated” roof assemblies, which are frequently employed in buildings with complex roof geometries.

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