common roof pitch

Common Roof Pitch

A roof’s pitch is one of the most important considerations in roof design. Pitch isn’t just about aesthetics. It is important. But, roof pitch also affects how well water, ice, and snow drain. The pitch could also affect maintenance time and cost. Pitch can even change the materials you can use. What is the most common roof pitch for commercial and residential properties in Colorado?

most common roof pitch

What is Roof Pitch?

The pitch is the slope, slant, or angle of your roof.

It is usually expressed as a rise in inches for every horizontal foot of length. So a 6/12 roof would have a vertical rise of six inches per horizontal foot.

When architects are designing a roof’s pitch, they need to consider many things: the weight of the roofing materials, the projected lifespan of the roof, the cost, the maintenance required, and its appearance.

Most Common Roof Pitch for Residential Buildings

Conventional slope roofs are most common with residential roofs.

This means the slope has a pitch between 4/12 and 9/12 on most homes.

Roofs with a pitch exceeding 9/12 are called steep slope roofs.

Steep slope roofs are used for their beauty but also have other benefits.

Most Common Roof Pitch for Commercial Buildings

Roofs on commercial buildings usually have a lower slope than the roofs of houses.

A typical low-slope roof has a pitch between 2/12 and 4/12.

A roof slope of under 2/12 is considered flat. Technically, it does have some slope.

For drainage, the minimum slope must be at least ¼” per foot.

Designers of commercial buildings use low-slope roofs because they cost less.

Low-slope roofs can be used on large buildings like factories and warehouses.

commercial roof pitch

Why Opt For a Steeper Slope?

Steeper sloped roofs are visually pleasing. They also last longer because water doesn’t accumulate.

Water, melting snow, and ice will run off immediately. This prevents ice damming.

Steeper sloped roofs are more expensive.

They require more materials and more labor. For some taller or larger structures, a steep slope just isn’t practical.

Relationship Between Materials and Pitch

Roof material selection is often dependent on the roof slope. Single-ply or torch-down roofs won’t work if the slope is steep.

If you want to use shingles or tiles on your roof, it can’t be a low-slope roof.

For roofs with a slope of 4/12 or above, shingles and tiles look and perform well.

Asphalt shingles are economical but they will have to be replaced sooner than other materials.

Tile is longer lasting.

Synthetic wood and slate roofing materials are both durable and longer-lasting. Many synthetic roofing materials look like natural materials and they are more durable and less maintenance intensive.

If you have a roof with a steep slope, roofing specialists will often recommend using shingles or tiles.

Clay tiles and natural slate have been around for centuries. The modern ones will last a lifetime if they are properly installed. They have two drawbacks: weight and cost. Clay tiles cost between $6 and $10 a square foot. Slate is twice the cost.

steep roof pitch

Concrete roof tiles cost about the same as clay tiles and the newer products mimic slate or clay tiles. They will last three decades.

Clay, slate, and concrete tiles weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds per 100 square feet. If you are going to use this roofing material, the roof deck and supporting materials must be strong enough to support this weight.

Asphalt shingles are North America’s favorite roofing choice. They are versatile, coming in just about any color and style an architect or homeowner desires. Asphalt shingles work effectively on most residential roof pitches. They’re economical. They are fast and easy to install and relatively durable.

On roofs with moderate slopes, asphalt shingles will cost between 50 cents and $1.50 per square foot. Weighing about 250 pounds per 100 square feet, they are one of the lighter roofing materials.

The expected life of asphalt shingles—depending on the grade—is between twenty and fifty years. Climate and weather events like hurricanes, ice storms, or tornados can shorten this life span.

Another plus with asphalt shingles is that they can be used on low-slope roofs with a pitch between 2/12 and 4/12. However, it should be noted that they require special underlayment and installation techniques to handle such things as water and ice damming.

Metal roofing is commonly painted aluminum and steel.

Other options are copper and stainless steel. However, they are seldom used because of the cost. Aluminum is becoming a popular choice because it doesn’t rust.

Aluminum also isn’t as noisy when it rains. New aluminum roofing materials can also mimic cedar shakes, tiles, and slate—without the high cost, weight, and maintenance. Metal roofing materials will work on any roof pitch. Special seaming may be required on low-slope roofs.

Metal roofs are lightweight—between forty and a hundred and thirty-five pounds per 100 square feet. Metal roofs are also easy to install and long-lasting. For those looking for environmentally friendly roofing materials, metal is a good choice.

roof slope

How Does Colorado Weather Affect Roof Pitch?

Colorado weather presents roofing challenges. Both altitude and various weather patterns require special consideration when you are choosing both roof pitch and roofing materials.

That’s why it is important to select a home or business structure designed for Colorado weather conditions.

It’s also wise to choose a roofing specialist familiar with the unique challenges of Colorado’s climate. You want roof pitch and roofing materials that will withstand the extreme Colorado climate.

Altitude affects your roof’s structure.

In higher altitudes of Colorado, things like air pressure, solar radiation, density, oxygen, temperature, and atmospheric water vapor change. The result is extra wear and tear on your roof. Routine roof maintenance will extend roof life. It is vital that regular gutter cleaning and roof inspection occur more often in higher altitudes.

In many climates, ice dams aren’t a concern. These lumps of ice form at the edge of a roof in winter. When this occurs, melting snow is blocked from draining. With nowhere to go, it backs up and drips into your home or business.

Roof pitch needs to be steep enough to allow water to drain so ice dams don’t occur.

Roofing insulation, pitch, slope, and ventilation all play a part in how snow accumulates, melts, and runs off the roof. Roofing specialists knowledgeable about Colorado snows can make excellent suggestions about how pitch and roofing materials impact roofing choices.

Those choices and installation affect whether a roof is insulated and ventilated. A roof with a higher pitch is usually more durable than a roof with a lower pitch.

Colorado is blessed with three hundred days of sunshine. This can wear on your roof. Warm days and freezing nights invite the formation of an ice dam. The blazing heat and UV radiation wear down many roofing materials.

To combat Colorado’s challenging weather conditions, select an optimum roof slope. Choose appropriate, well-installed roofing materials. Have regular roof maintenance and inspection by a roofing specialist knowledgeable about Colorado weather.

Common Roof Pitch – FAQ

What is a roof pitch? 

Roof pitch refers to the slope or angle of a roof. It’s expressed as a ratio of the height of the roof to the width of the horizontal distance, typically measured as rise (size) over run (width).

Why is roof pitch important? 

The pitch of a roof affects many aspects of a building, including its aesthetic appearance, energy efficiency, and structural integrity. A steep roof pitch can enhance the aesthetic appeal of a building, while a low pitch can create more living space in the attic. The pitch of a roof also affects its ability to shed rainwater and snow and to withstand wind and other weather conditions.

What are the most common roof pitches? 

The most common roof pitches are 4/12, 6/12, and 8/12. These ratios mean that for every 12 inches of horizontal distance (run), the roof rises 4, 6, or 8 inches vertically (rise).

What is a 4/12 roof pitch? 

A 4/12 roof pitch means that for every 12 inches of horizontal distance, the roof rises 4 inches vertically. This relatively low roof pitch is often used for ranch-style homes and other low-sloping roof designs.

What is a 6/12 roof pitch? 

A 6/12 roof pitch means that for every 12 inches of horizontal distance, the roof rises 6 inches vertically. This is a moderate roof pitch that is commonly used for many types of residential and commercial buildings.

What is an 8/12 roof pitch? 

An 8/12 roof pitch means that for every 12 inches of horizontal distance, the roof rises 8 inches vertically. This steep roof pitch is often used for colonial-style homes, cape cods, and other buildings with steeply sloping roofs.

Can the roof pitch be changed? 

Yes, roof pitch can be changed, but it is a complex and expensive process that typically involves removing the existing roof and adding new framing and roofing materials. Suppose you’re considering changing the pitch of your roof. In that case, it’s essential to consult with a professional roofing contractor to assess the feasibility and cost of the project.

How does roof pitch affect roofing materials? 

Roof pitch affects the type of roofing materials that can be used. For example, low-slope roofs typically require a different roofing material than steep ones. This is because roofing materials for low-slope roofs must withstand ponding water and be more flexible. In contrast, roofing materials for steep-slope roofs must resist high wind and heavy rain.

Common Roof Pitch - FAQ 

Common Roof Pitch Mistakes

Pitching a roof too steep or too low for the building and Colorado climate is a common mistake.

A minimum slope of four units of rise per twelve units of run is crucial if you are using asphalt, wood, or tile shingles or shakes.

Another is choosing roofing materials that don’t match the roof slope. This can result in water leaking into your home or business.

  • Failing to take the winter climate into consideration can result in building water damage or even roof collapse.

Never assume that the slope that works on one home or business will work on all structures. The roof slope changes the materials which are appropriate for roofing. It even makes a difference when installing. Roofs with lower slopes allow for roll roofing with exposed nails. Roofs with higher pitches work best with shingles and tiles. The danger if you choose the wrong material for the slope of the roof is water penetration and costly structural damage.

Colorado’s Unique Climate and Weather Patterns

Colorado experiences a unique climate and weather patterns that have a significant impact on roof design and pitch. Understanding these factors is crucial when considering the construction or renovation of roofs in the region.

Here are some important points to note regarding Colorado’s climate and how it affects roof design:

  • High Altitude Effects: Due to its higher altitudes, Colorado experiences variations in air pressure, solar radiation, density, oxygen levels, temperature, and atmospheric water vapor. These factors can lead to increased wear and tear on roofs, making routine maintenance essential for extending their lifespan.
  • Winter Challenges: Colorado is known for its heavy snowfall, and with it comes the risk of ice dams. Ice dams form when melting snow is blocked from draining, leading to potential water damage. To prevent this, it’s crucial to have a roof pitch steep enough to allow water to drain effectively.
  • Sun Exposure and UV Radiation: Colorado boasts approximately 300 days of sunshine annually. While this is appealing, it also means that roofs endure prolonged exposure to intense sunlight and UV radiation. This can accelerate the deterioration of roofing materials over time, making it crucial to choose appropriate materials that can withstand these conditions.
  • Extreme Temperature Fluctuations: Colorado’s climate is characterized by significant temperature fluctuations, with hot summers and cold winters. These extreme temperature changes can cause expansion and contraction of roofing materials, potentially leading to roof damage if not properly accounted for during design and installation.
  • Proper Insulation and Ventilation: Insulation and ventilation play a vital role in maintaining the durability and performance of roofs in Colorado. Proper insulation helps regulate indoor temperature and prevents heat loss, while adequate ventilation prevents moisture buildup and reduces the risk of condensation-related issues, such as mold and rot.
  • Expert Guidance: Given the specific challenges posed by Colorado’s climate, it’s advisable to consult with roofing specialists who are knowledgeable about the region’s weather patterns and can provide guidance on optimal roof pitch, materials, insulation, and ventilation systems.

By considering these factors and seeking professional advice, homeowners and builders can ensure that roofs in Colorado are designed to withstand the unique climate conditions, providing long-lasting protection for residential and commercial properties.

Overall, Colorado’s climate demands careful consideration when it comes to roof design and materials, with a focus on durability, proper drainage, insulation, and ventilation. Taking these factors into account will help ensure that roofs in Colorado can withstand the challenges posed by the region’s weather patterns and provide reliable protection for years to come.

How Can B & M Roofing Help?

Your roof protects your family or your business. It needs to be installed with materials that fit the roof slope. We are familiar with the most common roof pitch in Colorado and will recommend the best for your residential or commercial property.

Regular maintenance, such as regular inspections, cleaning, and repairs, can extend the roof’s life and prevent costly repairs. Business owners can follow these commercial roof maintenance tips to keep their commercial roofs in good condition, ensuring the longevity and performance of their buildings.

B&M roofing services bring exceptional expertise and experience in roofing materials, including metal, shingles, tile, low slope, asphalt, and more. We offer skilled professional and dependable roofing services in Colorado.

For more information about the best materials and installation for your roof pitch or to inquire about a free estimate, contact us now.