Understanding roof slope helps with a lot of different factors that go into replacing a roof or needing roof repairs. Stay prepared by reading all the details below.
Are you looking to replace your roof? Whether you’re a first time homeowner or have owned your own home for years, it’s important to know all the crucial parts of the roof, so you can make the right choices.
Have you ever considered the importance of the slope of your roof? It’s actually more important than you’d think. Here’s everything you need to know, so you can make informed choices when you come to replace it.
What is the Slope of Your Roof?
‘Roof slope’ is essentially the measure of how steep your roof is. You may have also heard it being referred to as the ‘pitch’ of the roof, but these all mean the same thing.
To calculate the pitch of the roof, you look at how much height the roof gains in a set horizontal measurement. This is usually expressed as a fraction, so you’ll see roofs being described as having a 3/12 or 6/12 roof slope. The first number in the fraction shows how many inches the roof rises vertically, while the second shows the span of the roof of the horizontal difference.
The span is usually described as 12 inches, as that’s one foot and so is easier to calculate. With this in mind, a 6/12 roof will rise 6 inches for every foot of the roof, so you have an idea of how high that roof will go.
The Importance of the Roof Slope
Why is a sloping roof so important? Could every home just have a flat roof? In theory, there’s nothing stopping you from having a flat roof, but the roof slope serves an important purpose.
The most important purpose of the roof slope is to allow rain and snow to slide off. Water is the number one enemy of your roof, as it can cause so much damage. If it gets under shingles or in between seams, it gets into the substrate and causes dampness, mold, and wood rot. In the winter, if snow is allowed to stay on your roof, it can easily create ice dams in the gutter, which allow even more snow to build up, too.
If there’s a good slope on the roof, then it simply slides off into the gutters, where it runs away. Of course, this is more or less important depending on where you live. If you’re in a colder and wetter climate, then you’re going to need a steeper slope. If you’re in a more arid area, then it’s not as important.
You’ll actually see that styles change to reflect this, depending on where you live. In areas like the Northeast, you’re going to see steeper roofs, and in the Southwest, you’ll find much flatter roofs.
Of course, there’s an element of style to roof slope, too. There are roof styles that need a much steeper roof to work, while others are flatter. When picking out a new roof, you’ll need to consider what style you want, and balance that with your needs as to climate.
The Difference Between High and Low Sloped Roofs
There are plenty of differences between a high and low sloped roof, and these will affect the type of roof that you get. Here are just a few differences to be aware of:
Walking on your roof: You obviously won’t make it a habit to walk on your roof often, but there are always going to be times when you need to get up there to do repairs. That could be something like replacing a shingle or the flashing, or it could be replacing a whole section of the roof.
On a flatter roof, it’s going to be a lot easier to walk on it. If the roof is steeper, that makes it harder, if not impossible. It will drive the cost up if you’re replacing the roof too, as there’s extra work that goes into making the project safe.
Safety equipment when tending to the roof: When you or a roofer are dealing with your roof, there’s some safety equipment that they’re going to need. The steeper the roof, the more equipment that they’re going to need. For example, if it’s steep they’re going to need scaffolding to be able to reach all parts of it.
This makes it harder to repair or replace, so that’s something to keep in mind when you’re choosing a new roof.
Differing maintenance needs: When it comes to caring for your roof, the slope plays a role in what you need to do. For example, when you have a flatter roof, you’ll need to keep an eye out for things like ponding. That’s a serious problem that needs to be handled right away. You’ll also find you’re less likely to lose shingles to high winds though, as the roof isn’t so high up.
On a steep-sloped roof, there’s more that goes into keeping those shingles on. Typically more nails are needed per shingle, so you’ll need to spend more time replacing them. It’ll also cost you more as more time has to be spent installing the roof itself.
Finding the right team: If you’re looking to replace your roof, you’ll see that there’s so much you need to look for in a crew. They need to be reliable and knowledgeable, obviously. If you want a steeper roof though, you’ll also have to look for a team that can handle that for you.
That takes some extra training and know-how, so you’ll see that again, this is going to cost you more in terms of labor.
The differences here mostly boil down to costs, so you’ll need to see if having a steeper sloped roof is what you need. If you have wetter weather where you live, you’re most likely going to need a steeper roof.
Now you know all the basics when it comes to roof slopes, and why they’re so important. If you’re looking at replacing your roof, talk to a professional roofer about the slope, and how much height you’ll need.