There's more than just material and color selections to make when picking a new roof. Whether you're having an older home re-roofed or are designing a custom home from scratch, the same considerations apply to choosing a pitch for the roof. The pitch refers to the measurement of the slope of each surface on a roof. Discussing your preferences for a certain roof pitch with your local roofing company will help you decide on the final designs for the structure.

Aim for Steep Surfaces

Flat roofs may offer a modern look, but sticking to steep pitches results in a longer lasting roof that requires less maintenance over its lifespan. This is because steep slopes shed water faster than low pitch and flat surfaces. Standing water soaks under the most water-resistant shingles and tiles to damage the decking and lumber below. Steep roofs don't gather standing water and stay drier during the heaviest rainfall. Less debris also tends to gather on steep roofs, even in valleys and similar areas that can trap leaves and twigs.

Consider Historic Styles

Many historic home styles from the Victorian and early 20th century eras feature steep sloped roofs that shed water rapidly. If you're renovating an older home, you'll want to stick with these traditional roof lines to maintain a consistent style. Homes built around the mid-century period tend to feature low slope tray, butterfly, or shed roofs. Even flat roofs require some amount of slope to drain properly, so you may need to restructure the entire frame of an older home for a leak-proof installation that outlasts the previous roof.

Pick a Roofing Material

The specific roofing material you want to install over the surface of the roof also determines the minimum pitch you need. Some materials can't remain water resistant when installed on a low slope, including asphalt shingles and concrete tiles. Membrane-type materials are the best choice for low slope roofs, and you'll need a pitch of at least 5/12 for installing wood shingles on a home. A 5/12 pitch means that the roof rises five inches for every foot of run of the roof length.

Mix Pitches on the Same Roof

Complex roof designs with multiple wings and valleys may call for mixing pitches over the entire structure. Small areas can handle low slope coverings, especially when installed between steeper sections that accelerate the shedding of water over the surfaces. The varying roof sections should all align if you want to install gutters to route water away from the home's foundation.

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