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Common Roof Pitches For Residential & Commercial Roofs

Posted on May 31, 2024

common roof pitches

Installing a new roof is one of the biggest decisions you could make in regards to your home. But with this decision comes several other ones too, like the choice of pitch, and ensuring it’s the right one for the roof you’re trying to construct.  

In this article, we will explore the common roof pitches used for residential and commercial roofs, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each, and the factors that homeowners and building owners should consider when selecting the appropriate pitch for their structures.

What Is A Roof Pitch? 

Roof Pitch
Roof Pitch

The roof pitch refers to how steep or inclined your roofing system is. If you look at most homes, you’ll notice that the roofs are not flat but rather have a slant or angle. This slant or angle is what we refer to as the roof pitch. It’s a measurement that describes how steep or flat your roof is.

Typical roof pitches are written in the form of a ratio or fraction. For example, you might have seen or heard from your contractor that the pitch of a roof is 3:12 or 2:12. The first number in the ratio describes the vertical length of the roof, which is also known as the rise. The second number is the horizontal length your roof runs, which is also known as the span of the roof.  

So in our example, a ratio of 3:12 means that the roof rises 3 inches for every 12 inches of roof span there is. 

Overall, the pitch plays a crucial role in determining the roof’s appearance, functionality, and overall performance. For residential and commercial buildings, the choice of roof pitch will be influenced by various factors, including climate, building codes, architectural style, and personal preferences.: 

Common Residential Roof Pitches That You Should Know About It! 

Roof Pitch Chart
Roof Pitch Chart

The roofs of residential properties are typically pitched, but there are several different types. Let’s look at some of the most common pitched roofs: 

Low Pitch Roofs (3/12 or lower)

Low-pitch roofs usually have a slope that is equal to or lower than the standard 3/12 roof pitch. This is a suitable option for regions with minimal precipitation and low wind speeds These roofs offer a sleek, modern appearance and can be cost-effective to construct. However, since there is not enough slant, a low pitch may be prone to ponding water and inadequate drainage. 

Popular roofing materials for low-pitch roofs include built-up roofing systems (BUR roofs), modified bitumen, and single-ply membranes like TPO or EPDM.

Medium Pitch Roofs (4/12 to 6/12)

This is one of the most common pitch choices for residential buildings since these roofs strike a balance between adequate drainage and aesthetic appeal. They provide ample attic space and can accommodate a wide range of roofing materials, including asphalt shingles, metal, and clay or concrete tiles. 

Medium-pitch roofs also offer good weather resistance and can shed snow and water effectively. However, you might face problems when the time comes for a repair or replacement.  

High Pitch Roofs (7/12 or higher)

High-pitch roofs, with a slope of 7/12 or greater, will be suitable for areas that experience heavy snowfall or strong winds. This is the most suitable pitch for Wisconsin homes as these steeply angled roofs excel at shedding rainwater and can withstand high winds. 

They also provide ample attic space and allow for vaulted ceilings. However, high-pitch roofs can be more challenging and expensive to construct and may require additional framing and support. 

Suitable roofing materials for a roof pitch of 7/12 or higher include metal, slate, and dimensional asphalt shingles designed for steep slopes.

Common Commercial Roof Pitches

Common Commercial Roof Pitch
Commercial Roof Pitch

Low-Slope/Flat Roofs

Many commercial buildings will feature low-slope, flat roofs, with a pitch ranging from nearly flat to a slight slope of 2/12 or 4/12. 

There are flat roofs that can have  3/12 pitch too, but anything 3/12 and below is considered a flat roof. These roofs maximize interior space and can accommodate various rooftop equipment, such as HVAC units or solar panels. Low-slope roofs are cost-effective and relatively easy to install and maintain. 

Popular roofing systems for commercial low-slope roofs include single-ply membranes (TPO, PVC, or EPDM), built-up roofing systems (BUR), and modified bitumen.

Pitched Roofs for Commercial Buildings

While less common, some commercial buildings may incorporate pitched roofs for aesthetic purposes or to accommodate specific design requirements or sloped areas. The pitch range for commercial pitched roofs can vary, but they typically fall between 4/12 and 8/12. These roofs can be covered with materials like metal panels, architectural shingles, or tiles, depending on the desired appearance and performance requirements.

Factors Influencing Your Selection Of Roof Pitch

Climate and Weather Conditions

The local climate and weather patterns will play a significant role in determining the appropriate roof pitch for your building. In areas with heavy snowfall or frequent high winds, steeper pitches (7/12 or higher) will be a better option in order to effectively shed rain and snow loads. In regions with minimal precipitation, lower pitches  (3/12 or less) may be suitable, as they offer a sleek look and can be more cost-effective.

Local Building Codes and Regulations

Building codes and regulations will establish minimum requirements for roof pitches based on factors such as wind loads, snow loads, and fire safety considerations. These codes aim to ensure the structural integrity and safety of the building and its occupants. For example, the minimum pitch required for asphalt shingle roofs is now 4/12. 

It will be essential to consult with local authorities and adhere to the applicable codes when selecting a roof pitch for residential or commercial projects.

Architectural Style and Personal Preference

The architectural style of the building can influence the choice of roof pitch. For example, traditional or historic homes often feature steeper pitches, while contemporary or modern designs may favor lower pitches. Personal preferences and aesthetic considerations can also play a role. 

Roof Drainage and Snow/Water Shedding Requirements

Proper drainage and effective shedding of precipitation and snow loads will be crucial for the longevity and performance of a roof. Roofs with inadequate pitches may be prone to water ponding, which can lead to leaks, damage, and potential structural issues. Steeper pitches facilitate better drainage and minimize the risk of water or snow accumulation, ensuring the roof’s durability and preventing potential problems.

Hire The Premier Roof Installation Contractors In Wisconsin

Selecting the appropriate roof pitch for residential and commercial buildings is a critical decision that involves considering various factors, including climate, building codes, architectural style, and drainage requirements. As a building owner, you should carefully evaluate the specific needs of your building and consult with our professional team to determine the most suitable pitch for your projects.
Our roofers at Prestige Roofing make sure that you get the roof you desire. Whether you want to install a residential or commercial roof, we have the required expertise to do the job successfully. Give us a call today at  (920) 791-0414  to speak with one of our experts and schedule an appointment.