How to Make Exterior Decisions That Will Withstand a Minnesota Winter

Minnesota winters are fierce. If it’s not freezing rain, heavy snow, and blowing winds it’s subzero temps for weeks on end…and most winters it’s all of the above. Consequently, we need to make sure our homes, businesses and multifamily residences are equipped to face the elements. While the roof is a building’s first line of defense, there are many other important parts of the exterior that protect it from winter’s harsh elements. Here are some excellent exterior choices for an Upper Midwest building:

Durable siding 

While siding can come in a variety of materials, some are better choices for cold-weather climates. Three excellent choices are metal, LP® SmartSide® and vinyl. 


  • Metal: Metal siding has many great qualities. It’s durable, rust-resistant, wind-resistant, hail-resistant and cold weather-hearty. It’s also by nature and can last up to 50 years! It’s one of the more expensive products, however, which can be a showstopper for people seeking a low-budget choice.


  • LP® SmartSide®: LP® SmartSide® is made of wood strands that have been coated to resist moisture and to protect against rot and insect infestation. The coated fibers are compressed for hardness and durability. Planks are finished with a resin-saturated overlay. 


  • Vinyl: Vinyl is inexpensive, easy to obtain, popular, quick to install and simple to maintain. The best of many worlds and an excellent solution for your northern home.



Anyone who lives in Minnesota knows that one of the biggest winter dangers is ice. Every year, young people and old people alike slip and fall on ice, twisting ankles, spraining wrists and breaking bones. This is where handrails come in. If you’re tackling an exterior project in the summer this might not be on your radar but come winter, you’re going to wish you installed handrails on all stairways outside of your home, business or multifamily residence. Even if you’re putting in a stoop or a couple of stairs, a handrail can be beneficial on slippery days and is, in many cases, required by building code. 


Metal roofs

Some Minnesota winters dump so much snow that home and business owners have to remove it frequently with metal roof rakes, by climbing up on their roofs and shoveling them off or by hiring someone to do it so their roofs don’t collapse. In addition to adding weight to the roof, accumulating snow thaws and freezes frequently, contributing to the formation of ice dams. Installing a metal roof is an excellent way to prevent snow from building up since it is designed to shed snow. Additionally, metal roofs are highly durable and help reduce the formation of ice dams. 


Hard paths that are easy to shovel

“I love removing snow,” said no one ever. But the one thing that can make snow removal even more miserable is when you have to shovel or snow blow a gravel path. Do yourself a favor and choose concrete or pavers for the paths around the exterior of your building so your shovel or snow blower isn’t catching on or throwing rocks or wood chips while you work. 

If you’re building a new home, business or multifamily residence, you have the opportunity to design it from the ground up and include whichever little details you want. If you’re designing and building a structure in Minnesota, here are some ideas you can incorporate to make it more winter-friendly: 

  • Choose a simple roof design: Roof valleys can invite ice, snow and debris buildup. Choose a roof design that minimizes or eliminates these valleys. A gable roof and a pyramid roof are two designs that eliminate valleys entirely while providing a pitch that encourages snowmelt and water runoff. 
  • Strategically place your chimney: When designing your structure, place your chimney and vent pipes as close to the ridgeline as possible. Why? Because water and melting snow run down the roof and can leak into any openings in the roof’s envelope that aren’t tightly sealed. Placing them near the ridgeline reduces the likelihood of water intrusion. 
  • Cover the main entrance: No Minnesotan likes to stand out in the rain or snow while searching for their keys to unlock the door, hauling in all their grocery bags or corralling small children. Shelter yourself and your loved ones from the elements with an overhang, portico or 3-season porch. 
  • Install south-facing windows: In addition to letting in an abundance of natural light, large south-facing windows are a great choice for bringing solar heat into your home or business. Meanwhile, north-facing windows don’t let in nearly as much light and heat and can be much smaller, if desired. 

If you want to discuss more ways you can prepare your home or building’s exterior to withstand Minnesota winters, we’d love to tell you more about the services we provide and how we can help. Contact us here to learn more!

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