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Roofing Industry Knowledge | Roof Pitch

What Does Roof Pitch Mean? (& 3 Things to Know About It)

August 4th, 2021 | 4 min. read

What Does Roof Pitch Mean? (& 3 Things to Know About It)

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If you need a new roof, you’re probably doing a lot of research before diving into such a large investment. The problem is, you’ll see a lot of new terms and roofing lingo.

This not only confuses you but also leads to you being potentially misinformed. One of the most common terms you’ll hear and see while researching is “roof pitch.” 

Unfortunately, a lot of people in the roofing industry don’t elaborate on what it means or why it’s important. 

We here at Bill Ragan Roofing want to help homeowners like you understand every part of a roof and what impacts the cost of their upcoming replacement. That’s why we’ll be breaking down what roof pitch is. 

After learning what roof pitch means, we’ll also give you 3 things every homeowner needs to know about it. 

What is roof pitch?

Roof pitch is simply the steepness (angle) of your roof. You might also hear the term “roof slope,” but “pitch” is more commonly used in the roofing industry. 

A roof’s pitch is calculated by the number of inches or feet it rises vertically for every 12 inches or feet it extends horizontally. When you see a roof’s pitch in writing or hear it from a roofing contractor, it’ll be in the form of a ratio. 

For example, a roof that is 4 inches (or feet) up for every 12 inches (feet) out is called a 4/12 pitch. Depending on the complexity, your roof could have multiple pitches.  

Your roof could have a low slope area or a different roof facet with a little more steepness. This won’t be the case for most homeowners, but it’s something to be aware of when discussing roof pitch. 

3 things to know about roof pitch

Now you know roof pitch is just the steepness of your roof. But there are a few things you need to learn other than the basic definition. 

1. Roof pitch impacts the price of your roof replacement

There are a lot of factors that impact the price of your new roof. One of the main factors is the complexity of your roof. 

Roof complexity is how cut up your roof is with different facets, hips, and valleys. Roof pitch is also a big part of the complexity and always impacts the price of a new roof. 

complex roof

(Complex roof)

If you have a steep pitch, it takes more time to replace a roof because the installers take more safety measures (harnesses and tying off) when working. They also can’t move around or access the materials on a steep roof as easily as they would on a walkable pitch.

The steeper and more complex a roof is, the more time and labor it takes to replace it. This leads to a complex roof replacement being more expensive than the average roof.  

2. You need a specific roofing material if you have a certain roof pitch

You can have any kind of roofing material you want on most roof pitches. However, there are a couple of situations when you need a specific type of material on a certain pitch. 

The first situation is when you have a low slope or flat area on your roof. If your roof has a pitch that’s 2:12 or lower, it’s considered low slope. 

If there’s a low slope pitch anywhere on your roof, it’s not steep enough, per the shingle manufacturers or codes, to put shingles on it. You have two options for a flat or low slope roof: a membrane or metal roof system

At the opposite end of the spectrum is a mansard roof. The pitch of a mansard roof is so steep that it’s almost vertical. 

Due to the weight of asphalt materials, I don’t recommend installing asphalt shingles on a mansard roof. You can still choose to get asphalt shingles, but they’ll eventually start to slide off. 

Mansard roofs aren’t nearly as common as low slope roofs. But if you have one, I recommend synthetic shingles or cedar shake shingles.

3. Don’t try to measure roof pitch yourself

You can read an article or watch a video on how to measure your roof’s pitch. This is great for educational purposes, but it doesn’t mean you should do it. 

If you’re not used to climbing a ladder or walking on a roof, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous position. That’s why I never recommend getting on your roof to try and measure the pitch. 

You also don’t know if you’re doing it right, even after doing research. While knowing your roof’s pitch is important for a roof replacement, it’s not worth putting yourself at risk. 

Wait until you get an inspection by a local roofing contractor to learn the pitch and much more about your roof. 

What else impacts the price of your new roof? 

After reading this article, you know what roof pitch is and a few important things about it. Remember, pitch is part of your roof’s complexity and impacts the price of your replacement

But like I said earlier, many different factors impact the cost of your new roof. Knowing these factors helps you understand the “why” behind the price you receive on your estimate. 

That’s why we wrote another article breaking down the 9 cost factors that impact your roof replacement. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality roofing services to homeowners in Nashville and surrounding areas. Our main goal is to give you all the information you need to make the right purchasing decision. 

Check out 9 Factors That Impact the Cost of Your New Roof to learn how a roofing contractor comes up with the price for your roof replacement.

checklist of questions to ask a roofing contractor

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