Roof Pitch and How To Choose The Proper Roofing Materials

When choosing a roofing material to replace your existing roof you have a variety of options: composite, asphalt, wood, slate, metal, rubber, roll roofing, etc. But the roofing material that is right for your specific application can definitely be affected by one major factor, the roof pitch. For example, you may think you want asphalt roofing shingles but if the pitch( or slope) of your roof is too low you may be forced to use roll roofing. Roofing pitch by definition is the sloped or angle of your roof.

Roof pitch is designated by two numbers divided by a slash or colon. Whether a slash or a colon is used, these numbers represent a ratio such as 2:12 or 10/12. The first number (numerator) represents the vertical height while the second number (denominator) represents the horizontal length. For roofing purposes the denominator will always be 12 to make things easier mathematically. For example: a roof pitch of 10/12 means that for every 12 horizontal feet the roof raises 10 feet. Another way to look at it is for every 10 feet the roof raises there is 12 horizontal feet. On average roof pitches range from 4/12 to 8/12 with more extreme pitches being at 12/12. Low pitch home’s were more common in the 1960’s and 1970’s while intricate, modern design home tend to have greater slopes, sometimes as much as 14/12 or more.

Contemporary style homes and commercial/ industrial buildings with a pitch of 3/12 or less require rolled roofing that is either self adhering or torched down. Asphalt roofing shingles are meant to shed water, not withstand “pooling” water. A watertight seal is necessary to allow for slow drainage or “standing” water. Some standing seam metal roofs can also be used on roofs with a pitch less than 3/12 where water will drain off too slow for traditional shingles.

For homes and businesses with a roof pitch of 4/12 or greater asphalt and composite roofing shingles are a perfect choice. Affordable and durable, asphalt roofing shingles are still the number one choice of over 95% of homeowners in America. They come in a wide variety of styles and colors and when installed properly can provide long lasting protection as well as increased home value. Another excellent choice, although not as popular is metal roofing. The installation of a metal roof can be much more expensive initially but can provide longer lasting durability, fire and wind resistance over time.

Finally for structures with a roof pitch of 5/12 or greater cedar shake, slate or tile shingles can be installed. These types of roofing material do not seal or lock together and are more susceptible to water leakage than asphalt, composite or metal roofing. For this reason they rely more upon a greater roof pitch to effectively shed water. Keep in mind that these designations are not necessarily exclusive to each roofing type, for example roll roofing is commonly used on low slope roofing but can also be used on a steep pitched roof if you desire.

If you are interested in learning more about the pitch of your roof or what roofing materials might work best for your specific needs call the roofing professionals at Ron Ferris and Son Roofing. We have been helping home and business owners protect their properties for over 35 years. Call for a free roofing estimate today at 585-288-0895 or visit us online @



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