Understanding Roof Pitch & Why It Matters

Roof pitches help you understand the condition or future condition of a roof. They can give you an idea of the amount of snow it will be able to withstand and potential maintenance needs that will be required in keeping it in g2ood condition. This can also give homeowners an idea of how to budget for future roofing upkeep.

How to Calculate Roof Pitch

The roof pitch is simply a measure of how steep the roof is. Pitch is recorded as two numbers separated by a colon. The first number is the vertical rise, and the second number represents 12 inches of horizontal measurement. For example, a 4:12 roof would have 4 inches of vertical rise for every 12 inches of distance.  

The Most Common Types of Roof Pitches

The most common roof pitch in residential homes is a 6:12 pitch. This pitch has been found to produce the most adequate runoff for snow in addition to enough headroom in the attic to be able to move around.

While 6:12 is the most common, there are other roof pitches used for residential applications as well. From shallow to steep, these include:

  • 4:12
  • 5:12
  • 7:12
  • 8:12
  • 12:12
roof pitch diagram
Diagram from roofvents.com

Why the Pitch is Important and What Type of Roof is Best for Each Pitch

Climate plays a major role in roof pitch and the material selection because the angle and the materials heavily impact drainage. The angle of the roof determines how easily moisture is moved away. For example, snow can easily build up on a flat surface and rain isn’t as easily moved to the gutters. A flat roof is easier to walk on, but it will need more repairs – especially in an area with higher precipitation levels. 

Asphalt is one of the more common roofing materials and requires a pitch of 2:12 or steeper to be installed. It’s an ideal material for roofs with a medium to a high pitch. Metal or tar and gravel roofs can be installed on roofs that are considered flat. Other materials such as tile and shingles are ideal for moderate to high-pitched roofs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Flat Pitches Vs Steep Roofs

As mentioned above, flat roofs are more easily accessible when they need repairs. They are also more cost-effective than a high-pitch roof to build. But they do not move moisture away from the home as effectively as a high-pitch roof would and consequently may need to be repaired more often.

A high-pitch roof will have more attic space, and better ventilation and air circulation. They are more durable as they can better withstand harsh storms and winter weather. A high-pitch roof will have more efficient drainage and better be able to withstand storms. They may however cost more as they require more materials and labor to build.

Hire a Roofing Company That Understands How to Protect Your Home

The pitch will impact the decisions you need to make for a new roof. For example, more durable materials can provide extra protection from the elements for a low-pitch roof. If you are looking for a new roof, it’s critical to find a company that best understands how to create a roofing system that will protect your home. If you have questions or would like to speak with someone about your roof, contact us today!