Your roof’s covering, also known as shingles, tiles, or panels, is the first line of defense in your roofing system and the most visible portion of your roof – but it’s not everything. Underneath the roof covering is a layer of waterproof or water-resistant material known as underlayment.

Underlayment helps keep your roof intact and your home dry should there be a leak in your roof covering. Many roofing experts would argue your underlayment is just as important as your roof covering.

If you live in an extreme environment that experiences significant cold or heavy amounts of snow you need to be certain you have the best underlayment to weather these conditions. Let’s learn the top styles of underlayment for cold and snowy environments.

Synthetic Underlayment

Unlike most traditional underlayment, synthetic underlayment is manufactured with plastics and other synthetic materials. Synthetic underlayment is stronger than traditional underlayment and can take much more punishment from snow and cold. There are several weights of synthetic underlayment available so match the underlayment’s thickness to the home and type of shingle.

There are even synthetic underlayments manufactured for cold and snowy environments.


Organic underlayment, known more popularly as ‘tar paper,’ is the most affordable underlayment for most roofing systems but it may not be what you want for snow or cold environments. Most tar paper is too flimsy to stomach continuous extreme weather and may fail after a few seasons. If are installing organic underlayment on your roof, make sure it is a heavy enough weight (30# for example) to withstand winter storms.

Ice and Water Shield

Ice and water shield is a specialized form of underlayment that adds extra protection to leak-prone areas of the roof like eaves, valleys, and penetrations. If you live in a cold or snowy environment, you should install ice and water shield on your home’s eaves at the least. The more severe weather you receive, the more ice and water shield you need.

If you live in the snow and cold you must be certain your roof can fight the outside elements. This includes choosing a strong roof covering but also the underlayment that goes under it. For cold and snowy environments roofing experts recommend synthetic underlayment and installing ice and water shield at areas vulnerable to winter leaks.

To get the strongest underlayment for your environment choose a local roofing company that knows the weather and the best way to protect your roof against it.