Pitch is a common term used in the roofing industry, but what exactly does it mean? The pitch of a roof refers to the measurement of its slope expressed as a ratio. Determining the pitch of your roof will tell you how many inches the roof vertically rises for every 12 inches it extends horizontally.
There are many reasons to know the pitch of your roof. Maybe you are considering a roof replacement or are thinking about adding skylights or other additions. To ensure that the project is successful, you need to know how to measure the pitch of a roof.
How to Measure the Pitch of Your Roof
There is more than one way to measure the pitch of your roof. One of the most common ways is to measure from the rafters in your attic. This allows you to safely measure without fear of falling off of your roof. To get an accurate measurement, place a level against the underside of the rafter and adjust until the bubble is directly in the middle. Next, locate the 12-inch mark on the level. You will then want to measure the 12-inch mark to the underside of the rafter to determine the vertical distance from the level to the rafter. The slope is the vertical distance to the horizontal distance. Therefore, if there is 6 inches of height with the 12-inch mark on the level, the slope is 6 in 12 or 6:12, which amounts to 26°.
If you feel comfortable going onto your roof, you can also measure the pitch from the roof surface. Once again, you will want to mark 12 inches on the level before positioning one end against the roof horizontally until the bubble is in the middle. Then measure the vertical distance from the level to the roof. This can be accomplished by holding the 0 mark on a tape measure against the roof. Place it vertically so that it is perpendicular to the level. Write down the vertical distance on the tape measure. You can then calculate the slope with the ratio rise over run. For example, if the tape measure found the vertical distance from the 12-inch mark on the level to be 3-inches, the slope is 3 in 12 or 3:12, which amounts to 14°.
Deciding on a Pitch for Your New Roof
When you get a new roof, you have the choice to change the pitch. However, it is important to understand that changing the pitch of a roof is only possible if the internal structure materials are also replaced. When deciding if you want your home’s roof to take on a new architectural design, you will want to consider factors like cost, aesthetics, and geographical location. Drastically changing the pitch of your roof can be costly. However, some homeowners may find that a new pitch is worth the cost due to the fresh appeal it brings. A different slope can provide curb appeal and transform the look of a home.
Also keep in mind that a dramatic pitch change will also change the way that water and snow run off. If you live in a location that receives a lot of precipitation, you may want to consider a pitch that will allow rain, snow, sleet, and hail to easily slide off your roof and into the gutters to prevent a buildup. Changing the pitch of your roof can sometimes solve drainage issues that you may currently have, such as water pooling or trapped debris. It can also give you extra space in your attic.
Low vs. Medium. vs. Steep Pitched Roofs
It is important to consider the advantages of low-pitched roofs compared to medium-pitched and steep-pitched roofs.
Low Pitched Roofs
A roof is generally considered low pitch if the pitch is under 3.5:12 (16°). As lower-pitched roofs are typically easier to work on, they are often cheaper to build. However, asphalt shingles, which are one of the most affordable roofing materials, are not a good choice for low-pitched roofs. Roofs with a low slope require a more durable material that will not allow water to pool or seep under the tiles. Low-pitched roofs may also need more maintenance compared to steeper alternatives.
Medium Pitched Roofs
A medium-pitched roof is considered to have a pitch anywhere between 3.5:12 (16°) and 7.5:12 (32°). The majority of modern roofs in the U.S. have a roof pitch that fits this description. What makes medium-pitched roofs so popular is that they are easy to walk on, affordable to install, and can be used in combination with a variety of materials. Medium-pitched roofs can also appear aesthetically pleasing and offer great curb appeal when completed by professionals. Some of the most common materials used on medium-pitched roofs include asphalt, metal, slate, tile, cedar shake, and clay shingles.
Steep Pitched Roofs
Some homeowners choose steep-pitched roofs due to their unique benefits. Steeper roofs often appear more elegant than their flatter counterparts. They also leave more space on the second story or attic. With a roof pitch that is steeper, homeowners have more options in terms of adding trim or eaves. Of course, the higher the pitch, the more materials are needed to complete construction. This means more money spent on labor and materials. A steep-pitched roof is considered anything over 7.5:12 (32°). With this steepness, contractors typically need special equipment to prevent them from sliding off the roof during construction. However, steeper roofs are known to last longer than flatter roofs which is a major perk.
Learn More About Roof Pitch and Repair
Determining the pitch of your roof may be necessary for several reasons. If you are considering a new roof, knowing the roof pitch can help you determine the amount of materials needed for the job. The roof pitch can also help you determine what types of materials are best suited for your home. Roof pitch can be manifested in a variety of roof types, ranging from dormer and hip to gambrel and saltbox. To learn more about how to measure the pitch of a roof or for further assistance, contact the roof repair contractors at Beyond Exteriors.