When most homeowners think about a roof, they think about the shingles they see from the street. However, a roof is much more than that. 

Your roof is a combination of different materials and components coming together to form a complete roof system. One of these crucial roofing components is ice and water shield. 

Here at Bill Ragan Roofing, we want every homeowner to understand the materials that make up their roof. Because of this, we’ll be covering the information you need to know about ice and water shield.

By the end of this article, you’ll learn what ice and water shield is and 3 things you need to know about it. 

What is ice and water shield?

Ice and water shield is a waterproof membrane used to protect your roof from ice and water damage. Its main purpose is to protect your roof decking if water gets underneath your roofing material (asphalt shingles, metal roof, etc.). 

ice and water shield in a roof valley

It’s crucial to have ice and water shield installed on/around certain areas of your roof, like roof valleys, around penetrations, and on roofs that have a 2/12, 3/12, or 4/12 pitch. Because of its importance, every roof needs to have it.

There’s also a code if you live in an area above the snow line in the US. This code requires ice and water shield along the edges of your roof to prevent leaking from ice damming after a heavy snow or ice storm. 

If you live in an area that sees heavy snow, you’ll most likely have 2 rows of ice and water shield along your roof’s rakes and eaves per local codes. 

3 things to know about ice and water shield

Now you know what ice and water shield is and why it’s important to your roof. However, there’s still more you need to learn about it. Let’s get to the 3 things you need to know about ice and water shield. 

1. 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 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 I 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 shield is made of cotton-like fibers that’s used primarily on metal roofs. Because of the material it’s made of, it won't stick to 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 shield is used on metal, it’s also used with premium roof systems (slate and cedar shake) to add extra protection.

2. Upgrading your roof with ice and water shield 

Remember, you’ll most likely have the ice and water shield code I mentioned earlier if you live in an area that sees heavy snow. However, adding ice and water shield around the edges of the roof is also an upgrade you can add to your replacement. 

You might think this isn’t important, and if you live somewhere that never sees snow, it’s not. But when we get heavy snow in the Middle Tennessee area, we can count on phone calls about water getting into homes. 

The main culprit is always the same, ice damming. The truth is, there’s nothing you can do to stop the leak except wait for the snow and ice to melt off your roof. 

ice and water shield on rakes and eaves

However, you can prevent leaks from ice damming by adding ice and water shield at the edges (rakes and eaves) of your roof that goes 2 feet past the interior walls of your home. Be aware; you can only add this upgrade when getting a roof replacement. 

If you’re experiencing ice damming now or have experienced it before, add this upgrade to prevent it in the future. Just keep in mind that it will add to the cost of your new roof

3. The cost of ice and water shield

The price of roofing materials fluctuates constantly and can be different depending on the area you live in. Because of this, it’s impossible to give you an exact cost number for ice and water shield. 

However, I can give you a general idea of the cost depending on the type you're using. 

Granular or sand ice and water shield starts at $50.00 per row of material, 3 feet by 33 feet. Smooth ice and water shield costs around $100.00 per square (100 square feet of roof area) to go under a low slope roof. 

High heat ice and water shield will be a little more expensive and costs around $125.00 per square. While these prices aren’t exact, they do give you an idea of what to expect from a price point for adding ice and water shield to your roof. 

The rest of the roofing materials that make up your roof

Now you know what ice and water shield is, the types, cost, and more. Remember, it's a crucial roofing material that every roof needs to have. 

However, it’s not the only roofing material you need to know about. Because you’re about to invest a lot of money into a new roof, doesn’t it make sense to know exactly what you’ll be paying for?

If you answered yes, we have another article breaking down the 9 roofing materials that will be part of your roof replacement. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners in the Nashville area with all of their roofing needs. You can count on our high-quality workmanship that comes with a lifetime warranty to give you a roof that will last for decades. 

Check out 9 Materials Included With Your Roof Replacement to learn the crucial components you’ll be paying for when it’s time to replace your roof.

which roofing material is right for you