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Why Every Roof Needs Ice & Water Shield

Roof maintenance costs can be a burden. Temporary fixes, calcium chloride, and raking your roof month after month is a hard chore to bear.

If you want a more permanent solution, enter ice and water shield.

It will save you multiple trips just to buy calcium chloride and spare you from raking your roof so often.

This guide about ice and water shields can help fix that problem.

ice and water shield

What is an Ice and Water Shield?

Also referred to as ice and water protector, an ice and water shield is a self-adhesive waterproofing roof underlayment that acts as a shield against water and ice damage.

It’s also made of modified bitumen, which provides a watertight seal around the shingles and nail penetrations.

How Does An Ice and Water Shield Protect My Home?

There are two risks your roof is exposed to without an ice and water shield: ice dams and wind-driven rain.

Ice Dams

Homeowners who live in colder climates are potentially more at risk when it comes to ice dam formation. Ice dams form because of the continuous melting and freezing of snow caused by the heat that escapes from your home.

When the snow melts, this melted water runs down until it reaches the unheated bottom edge or soffit area of your roof. Once this melted water freezes, it becomes an ice dam.

Without the proper roofing underlayment, ice dams can damage your roofing structure and walls.

Installing an ice and water shield allows the water to be drained safely off the roof, thus protecting your roof from damage. Ice dams are also time-tested and proven to solve this problem.

Wind-driven Rain

Wind-driven rain is linked to ice dam formation and may even increase the likelihood of it.

The cause of wind-driven rain is usually a strong storm such as a hurricane. The wind can push rainwater to flow beneath your roofing shingles and create an ice dam.

Having an ice and water shield installed may not entirely prevent this from happening, but it lessens the chances of a water leak significantly.

Finally, it’s worth noting that most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover wind-driven rain. It’s important then, to have an ice and water shield installed to lessen long-term costs.

Ice and Water Shield Vs. Felt Paper

Some of you may have heard about using felt paper.

It’s cheaper and protects your home from water leaks; however, even though felt paper and an ice and water shield appear similar, both products are vastly different.

Performance

Felt Paper

Felt paper provides decent performance in stopping leaks, and it does so with the help of gravity. In actuality, felt paper relies on gravity to allow water to flow over the felt paper and onto the edge of your roof.

The drawback to using felt paper is if water travels horizontally or along the shaft. Felt paper can’t protect your roof deck against water that flows back up the roof.

Ice and Water Shield

On the other hand, an ice shield is a rubberized membrane that sticks to and adheres to your roof deck.

Thanks to its self-adhesive feature, an ice and water shield sticks to the roof sheathing, provides waterproofing, and protects your roof far more effectively.

Installation

Felt Paper

Felt paper is installed in stacks or layers of rows so that every higher row overlaps each row below. This installation would be perfect if it weren’t for the nails penetrating the felt paper, making it harder to prevent ice damming.

Also, the nail holes in the felt paper aren’t sealed, which leads to water seeping beneath the nail head and through the felt paper.

Ice and Water Shield

It provides better material design to counter the problems a felt paper has.

Since the ice and water protector carries a rubberized membrane, this creates a gasket effect on the nail shaft when the nails penetrate the shield.

Not all ice shields provide this feature, though. Grace ice and water shield is one company that offers this type of product.

One thing to note, though about installing ice and water protectors is the temperature and sunlight exposure.

Temperatures that go above 60 degrees Fahrenheit with direct sunlight exposure cause the product to be extremely sticky. This stickiness is similar to what you see in contact cement, and once it touches or sticks to a surface, it’s not coming off.

Where Should I Apply Ice and Water Shield?

where to  install ice & water shield

Eaves & Roof Edges

The eaves and roof edges are especially vulnerable to ice dams and will form near the gutter. An ice and water protector is critical to have in these areas to help direct water into the gutter rather than penetrate through the nails and into your roofing structure.

Chimneys, Vents, Skylights & Flashings

Installing an ice and water protector is essential in these areas specifically to protect your roof from wind-driven rain. Skylights, which penetrate the roof deck, will also require an ice and water protector.

Finally, it’s crucial to install it underneath the flashing or shingles to prevent these from entirely overlapping.

Valleys

Valleys are also extremely vulnerable to hail, rain, and leaks. Even a falling tree branch can damage the shingles long-term.

Since valleys carry a large pool of water, damaged shingles can easily lead to water flowing underneath and, thus, damaging your roofing structure.

Make sure to have it installed in your valleys to help direct water into your gutter.

Low Slope Roofs

Houses with low slopes carry far more risk than houses with a higher slope and pitch. This is because low slope roofs tend to carry more of the snow’s weight, which then increases the buildup of ice dams forming on your eaves.

If your roof has a slope between 2:12 and 4:12, it’s only essential you should have an ice and water protector installed.

Guidelines to Follow When Installing an Ice and Water Shield

  1. Install the ice and water protector before you install the roof felt and underlayment. It should also be installed underneath your flashing, especially for chimneys and dormers.
  2. Your ice and water protector should adhere to the roof deck and on the eaves of your roof before installing your drip edge.
  3. You may apply an ice and water protector on your entire roof, but this can also be costly overall. Instead, install it first on critical areas of your roof before you consider covering the whole roof.
  4. Install your ice and water protector covering at least 3 feet from the edge of your roof. 6 feet would be ideal, but for low slope roofs, you’ll most likely have to cover more range.
  5. Don’t install it above your existing shingles. It’s typically recommended to install it in your roof sheathing underneath your shingles and felt paper.

FAQs

How Much Ice and Water Shield Do I Need to Install?

First, consider how much product width you’ll need. On average, one protector is 3 feet wide.

Next, determine how much length you need to cover. As mentioned in the guidelines, 3 feet is a good standard. This will; however, depend on your region and the roof slope.

Colder climates and lower slopes will require a higher standard compared to warmer climates. A good rule of thumb is to expect the highest level of ice dam formation.

Last but not least, check back with a roofing professional or your state what the required building codes are. Some states require a minimum width installation on your eaves and valleys.

Is it Difficult to Install an Ice and Water Shield in Hot Weather?

It is challenging to install one in humid weather. As far as heat is concerned, your ice and water protector is extremely sticky on its own.

Hot weather and warmer temperatures will make it even more sticky, which can be a serious challenge in the installation process.

If you unroll this on your roof without first snapping the proper alignment, it will become crooked and mind you, you can’t pull it back out. Or, if you do, it will almost always cause a wrinkle.

The best solution is to ask your roofing company if they have experience handling an ice and water protector in hot weather.

Remember, poor installation can lead to placing your home even more at risk from ice dams, so it’s better to ask the necessary questions before proceeding with the installation.

How Much Does It Cost to Install an Ice and Water Protector?

The basic product will cost you around $385 to $415, including installation costs.

If you’re looking for an upgraded design and material, you’ll have to spend an additional $70 on average, leading to around $455 to $490 total.

For the best design and material used, expect to spend at least $520 and $590 the highest.

The costs mentioned here are rough averages of both material and installation costs, so expect different roofing companies to have different price quotations as well in terms of overhead and labor cost.

Finally, when allocating a budget plan for installing an ice and water protector in your home, add at least a 7 to 12% additional cost on top of your budget estimate.

If you want to appeal for lower or discounted prices, start looking around in late Fall or early Winter since most roofing companies will offer better deals during this time.

Final Thoughts

There’s no better solution to preventing ice dams and leaks in your home than using an ice and water protector. Compared to felt paper or roof felt, it’s far more effective and durable to keep your roof protected and well-maintained.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article! For any comments, suggestions, or concerns, please let us know in the comments section below!

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