Roofing systems come in all shapes and sizes, and each type of roof has specific installation and maintenance needs to stay in great condition. However, to best care for your roofing system, it’s crucial to understand what type of roof you have—specifically your roof pitch.
Roof pitch can impact the cost of your roof replacement and the materials you can use for your new roofing system. If you’re considering replacing the roof on your Southeastern Pennsylvania home, keep reading to understand the nuances of this common roofing term.
What Is a Roof Pitch?
Roof pitch, also called roof slope, describes your roof’s steepness (or angle). It’s expressed as a ratio of the roof’s vertical “rise” to the horizontal “run” in inches. For example, if your roof rises three inches for every twelve inches it runs, it has a roof pitch of 3:12 or 3/12.
Some roofing systems have multiple pitches. For instance, your garage may have a more gradual incline than the rest of your roofing system, or you may have a gambrel roof with two different slopes on each side.
Common Types of Roof Pitches
Typically, your roof slope will fall into one of the following categories:
- Flat—Since all roofing systems must be slightly angled to allow water to drain, no roof is entirely flat. However, roofs with a pitch of 1:12 are considered to have a flat pitch.
- Low-Slope—If your roof has a pitch between 1:2 and 4:12, you have a low-slope roof. These roofs typically require special materials to prevent leaks since they’re less efficient at shedding rain and snow, but they’re ideally suited for warm, dry climates.
- Medium-Slope—Roofs with a pitch between 4:12 and 9:12 are considered to have a medium slope. Medium-slope roofs are the most popular roof pitch for residential properties across the United States because they’re effective at shedding water but still easy enough to walk on if necessary. The most common roof pitch is 6:12.
- Steep-Slope—Roofs with pitches above 9:12 are considered to have a steep slope. They’re more challenging to build and maintain, but they add eye-catching appeal and visual interest to your home’s exterior.
Homes in climates that experience cold weather conditions, like Pennsylvania, benefit from steeper roof pitches since they’re better at shedding rain, snow, and ice. However, low-slope roofs are more common in dry climates with warm weather.
What Should I Know About Roof Pitches?
You may be asking yourself why you need to know your roof pitch, which is a great (and valid!) question. Here are some reasons why roof pitches are important:
Roof pitch impacts the cost of your roof replacement.
The complexity of your roofing system, including hips, valleys, and slope, significantly impacts the price you’ll pay for your replacement.
Roofing systems with intricate features, like a steep slope, tend to be more expensive. They require your contractor to use additional materials, like fasteners, to secure your new roof. Because they’re not walkable and, therefore, more challenging to reach, steep roofs take longer to install. They often require skilled labor, causing the price of your replacement to spike.
Certain roof pitches require specific types of roofing materials.
Before your heart is set on a particular roofing material or style, it’s important to understand the slope of your roof. Though you can use most types of roofing materials regardless of your roof’s pitch—there are a few exceptions.
If your roof has a slope of 2:12 or lower, it’s not steep enough, per manufacturer or local building codes, to apply asphalt roofing shingles. Instead, applying metal or a membrane, like EPDM or TPO, to your flat or low-slope roofing system guarantees the best performance.
If you have a roofing system with a steep slope, you’ll want to steer clear of heavy materials, like clay and concrete tiles, and opt for lightweight materials, like synthetic shingles or asphalt roofing shingles, instead.
You should never try to measure your roof pitch yourself.
Finally, it’s important to note you should never try to climb a ladder to measure your roof’s pitch on your own. Medium-slope and steep-slope roofing systems can be dangerous to walk on—even professional roofers wear safety harnesses while working on these roofs!
Instead, contact a professional roofing company, like Porter Family Exteriors, to collect your roof pitch while performing a roof inspection. You can be confident the measurements are collected correctly, and you won’t risk injuring yourself or your loved ones.
Find Your Roof Pitch for Your Upcoming Roof Replacement with Porter Family Exteriors
If you’re curious about how your roof pitch impacts your upcoming roof replacement or would like to discover your roof pitch, Porter Family Exteriors would be happy to help! We install asphalt roofing shingles, metal roofing, and low-slope roofing systems, so regardless of your roof slope, you’ll find the perfect material for your replacement.
Learn more about our roofing services to transform your current roof with a long-lasting, beautiful replacement.