What Is Ice and Water Shield

What Is Ice and Water Shield and How Does It Protect Your Roof?

If you're in the market for a new roof for your home, you should look into an ice and water shield, a special underlayment designed to prevent leaks. “What is an ice and water shield exactly and do I even need one?”, we hear you ask. As expert roofing contractors, we at Otis Roofing are here with a full guide that can teach you about this new innovative product and its benefits.

Ice and Water Barriers for a Roof: Definition

An ice and water barrier for roofs is a waterproof membrane used to shield the roof from damage from adverse weather conditions. This is a thick, sticky-back underlayment made of asphalt that will adhere to your roof deck and prevent water from seeping into the structure. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the roof decking if water leaks through the roofing material (metal roof, asphalt shingles, etc.). Specific placements of ice and water shield would be along the eaves of your roof, in valleys, and penetrations in your roof. This is the second line of defense in protecting your roof from moisture.

An ice and water shield for the entire roof can really help during cold weather and severe storms. One of the dangers you may face is strong winds lifting shingles, leaving an unprotected area where rain can easily seep in. With an ice and water shield, this won’t happen. 

The Importance of the Roof Ice and Water Shield 

Is an ice and water shield necessary? Well, no, if you want to be careless about your safety. The likelihood of wind-driven rain penetrating the roof's surface and creating a leak is significantly reduced by the ice and water membrane, which is completely bonded to the roof deck.

As per FEMA, wind-driven rain is not covered by the American National Flood Insurance Program. Additionally, typical private home insurance plans might not cover wind-driven rain. Therefore, protecting yourself from risk with a roof ice and water shield should be the priority while looking for insurance and maintaining the roof.

In frigid areas with sporadic snowfall, ice dams on the roof are a severe problem for homeowners. Ice dams may develop from a buildup of frozen snow on the rain gutters or from the continual freezing and melting of snow caused by heat loss at home. The ice dam is produced when the melted snow runs beneath the snow and solidifies as it hits the unheated soffit region at the eaves. 

If this occurs, water may be driven beneath the shingles and damage the top floor, causing inside damage to the house. The ice and water membranes are a tried-and-true and successful fix for this issue. They provide excellent defense against the ice that an ice dam forces under the shingles.

Low-slope locations and valleys generally need ice and water protection since the roof sections are more susceptible. Homeowners are advised to examine the local building codes since certain areas may have different use restrictions.

What Are the Most Common Types of Ice Guards for Roofs?

What does ice and water shield look like? Depends on which one you are getting. Here are the three types of barriers and where they go on a roof.

wondering where does ice and water shield go on a roof

Sand Surface

Sand surfaces for roof valleys are made of sand or granular. It is the thinnest of the three types of roofing materials.

The ice and water membrane fulfills the same function and accomplishes the job effectively despite not being as thick.


Low-slope roofs employ ice guards for roofs with smooth surfaces. This style is appropriate when a roof has a 3/12, 4/12, and 2/12 pitch, as described in the initial section.

High Heat

High heat ice guard for roofing, typically used on metal roofs, is constructed of cotton-like fibers. It doesn't stick to metal during its expansion and contraction due to the substance it is constructed of. This keeps the ice and water barrier for the roof from being compromised by the metal panels. In addition to being utilized with premium roof systems (cedar shake and slate) to provide additional protection, high-heat roof ice and water shield is also used for metal.

What Is the Cost of an Ice Guard for Roofing?

The cost of roofing materials might range and continuously fluctuate based on where you reside. It is hard to provide an accurate price for ice guards for roofs.

Nevertheless, based on the kind you're using, we can give you an approximate sense of the price.

An ice guard for roofing made of sand or granular begins at $50 per row of roofing material, measuring 3 feet by 33 feet. A low-slope roof may be covered with a smooth shield for about $100 per square.

A high heat shield will cost you around $125.00 per square, which is a bit extra. Although inaccurate, these figures give you a general sense of the cost of the installation.

Ice guard for roofing installed on a suburban home

Hire a Roofing Contractor for Your Ice and Water Shield

Where to use ice and water shield? You can hire an experienced contractor to tell you the best option for your ice and water shield for the entire roof. 

Otis Roofing has licensed and insured workers that can install an amazing roofing shield for you. Ice and water will never bother you again, and your home won't have to go through water damage anymore. 

Call Otis Roofing at 512-717-5852 or fill out the form online.