Roof System Essentials: Ice and Water Shields Explained

What Are Ice and Water Shields?

Ice and water shields are waterproof membranes made of polymer-modified bitumen. They are essential underlayments that protect your roof decking from the damaging effects of ice and water, especially during severe winter storms. Expert contractors like Advantage Remodeling and Roofing offer superior workmanship and can ensure the job is done correctly, adding value to your property.

The Importance of Ice and Water Shields

Preventing Ice Dams

In regions like Texas, occasional winter storms can lead to the formation of ice dams. These occur when snow melts on the roof, refreezes at the edges, and forces water under the shingles, potentially causing significant damage to your attic, ceilings, and walls.

Creating a Watertight Barrier

Ice and water shields feature an adhesive backing covered by a release film. When installed, the film is removed, allowing the membrane to stick to the roof decking. This creates a watertight barrier beneath the shingles, providing superior protection against water infiltration.

Key Installation Areas

Ice and water shields should be installed in several critical areas of the roof to ensure comprehensive protection:

  • Roof valleys
  • Around penetrations such as skylights, chimneys, and vent stacks
  • Eaves and overhangs
  • Dormers
  • Roofs with low slopes (2/12, 3/12, or 4/12 pitch)

Types of Ice and Water Shields


Also known as “sand surface,” this is the thinnest type, used primarily in roof valleys. Despite its thinness, it offers robust protection.


Ideal for low-slope roofs, this type is suitable for roofs with pitches of 2/12, 3/12, or 4/12.

High Heat

Made of cotton-like fibers, this type is used mainly on metal, slate, and cedar shake roofs due to its superior heat resistance.

Proactive Measures

Rather than waiting for ice dams to form, it’s wise to ensure your roof is equipped with ice and water shields before winter sets in. Regular checks can help verify that these shields are in good condition and ready to withstand the cold weather.

For more detailed advice on Understanding Roof Blistering and How to Address It, click here.

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