Top 10 Roofing Materials for Preventing Ice Dams

Top 10 Roofing Materials for Preventing Ice Dams


As winter sets in and blankets our homes with snow, many homeowners encounter a common and potentially damaging issue: ice dams. Ice dams form on roofs when accumulated snow melts and then re-freezes at the roof’s edge, creating a dam that prevents water from draining off the roof. The trapped water can then seep into the home, causing significant damage to both the interior and exterior of the property. This can include anything from water-stained ceilings and peeling paint to structural damage in the long term. Fortunately, the choice of roofing material can play a significant role in preventing the formation of ice dams. This article explores the top 10 roofing materials that can help homeowners deal effectively with this wintertime issue.

1. Metal Roofing

Metal roofing tops the list as the best option for preventing ice dams. The characteristic smooth and slippery surface of metal roofs allows snow and ice to slide off easily before they have the chance to melt and re-freeze. Besides its ice-prevention capabilities, metal roofing is also known for its durability and ability to withstand harsh winter conditions without deterioration. These roofs are typically made from aluminum, copper, or steel, all of which possess the strength to bear heavy snow loads and the resilience to resist wind and hail.

2. Rubber Membrane Roofing

Rubber membrane, or EPDM roofing, is another highly effective material in ice dam prevention. This roofing material is essentially a waterproof barrier designed to prevent water intrusion into the home. Its rubber surface is highly resistant to ice formation, making it a solid choice for homes in colder climates. Furthermore, the dark color of EPDM roofing can help to absorb heat and further promote the melting of snow.

3. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles, particularly those of high quality, can also aid in staving off ice dams. These shingles are designed to shed water, guiding it towards the roof’s edge to prevent accumulation. On top of this, asphalt shingles are a relatively affordable roofing option, making them a popular choice among homeowners. They come in a variety of colors and styles, allowing homeowners to maintain aesthetic appeal without compromising on ice dam prevention.

4. Slate Tiles

Slate tiles, though on the pricier side, are very effective at preventing ice dams. These tiles are installed with a gap, which allows water to drain away effectively, reducing the chance of ice dam formation. Slate is also incredibly durable and can last for decades, making it a worthwhile investment for many homeowners. Its natural, distinct appearance adds a unique, elegant touch to any home.

5. Solar Panel Roofing

Solar panel roofing serves a dual purpose: it generates electricity for the home and provides a smooth surface on which snow and ice find it difficult to accumulate. The panels can help to evenly distribute heat across the roof, promoting the melting of snow and reducing the likelihood of ice dams. Additionally, homeowners can benefit from the energy savings associated with solar power, making it a cost-effective long-term solution.

6. Clay Tiles

For warmer climates that only experience occasional snowfall, clay tiles can be an excellent choice. These tiles are designed to shed water quickly, reducing the likelihood of ice dam formation. However, they are not suitable for areas with heavy snowfall or extreme cold, as they can crack under such conditions. Clay tiles offer an attractive, Mediterranean aesthetic, but homeowners must consider their climate and weather conditions before choosing this material.

7. Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles are another durable option that can withstand heavy snow loads. They are resistant to fire and offer excellent heat retention, which can help melt snow before it has a chance to form an ice dam. However, their weight requires a strong structural support, making them unsuitable for some homes. Despite this, their strength and longevity make them a favourite in regions with severe weather conditions.

8. Wood Shingles

Wooden shingles are naturally insulating, helping to keep the roof surface temperature consistent. This temperature consistency can aid in preventing the formation of ice dams by reducing temperature fluctuations that lead to melting and re-freezing of snow. Wood shingles, typically made from cedar or redwood, add a classic, timeless appeal to homes but may require more maintenance than other roofing materials.

9. Green Roofs

Green roofs, roofs covered with a layer of vegetation, are an eco-friendly solution that can also help prevent ice dams. The plants absorb and slow down the melting snow, reducing the risk of ice dams. Additionally, green roofs provide excellent insulation, further preventing temperature fluctuations on the roof surface. They also contribute to reducing urban heat islands and improving local air quality, making them an excellent choice for environmentally conscious homeowners.

10. Copper Roofing

Finally, copper roofing, although expensive, is highly effective at preventing ice dams. Copper is a good conductor of heat, helping to evenly distribute heat across the roof surface. This prevents the formation of ice dams by ensuring consistent melting of snow. While the initial investment may be high, the longevity and low-maintenance nature of copper roofing can make it a cost-effective solution in the long run.


The right roofing material can significantly reduce the risk of ice dams, potentially saving homeowners significant repair and maintenance costs in the future. However, it’s not just about the roofing material. Proper insulation and ventilation of your attic are also crucial in preventing ice dams. By ensuring that warm air from the home does not reach the roof and cause snow to melt and re-freeze, homeowners can further protect their properties from the damaging effects of ice dams. Given the variety of factors involved in ice dam prevention, consulting with a professional roofer can be very beneficial in determining the best roofing material for your specific home and climate.