What is Roof Pitch and Why is it Important?

What is a Pitched Roof? 

The term ‘pitched roof’ refers to the standard triangle-shaped roof found on most residential houses. The term cannot be reduced to the shape of a triangle. However, that doesn’t summarize most of it. To be more specific, a pitched roof has a slope and is thus propped up by a supporting framework in some way (that happens to make a pyramid/ triangle shape usually).

Every profession has its own ‘jargon’ (job-specific vocabulary). Learning the basics about roof pitch can help you understand more about your home’s roof. Pitch measurements are useful to understand because of how they can influence future projects. For example, the pitch of a roof and its style can be affected adversely by specific weather conditions and its compatibility with various types of shingles.

Types of Pitched Roof Styles

In most cases, Pitched roofs come in two different forms; There are single and double-pitched roofs. Single pitched roofs appear more like a ramp than a typical triangular top, while double-pitched roofs resemble the classic style. Single pitched roofs can commonly be spotted on some garages and perhaps some modern-looking homes due to their characteristic style. 

Both pitch styles follow a specific measurement system that determines the angle (slope) of the roof itself, which is what gives pitched roofs their popular function of clean run-off. It is also the measurement that determines structural compatibility, as mentioned before (like if building an insulated attic is possible). 

How Pitched Roofs are Measured

Pitched roofs are measured by two variables known as the rise (the height of the top of the roof to the base) and the run (which is the roof’s horizontal distance). Dividing the two will reveal the degree of the slope, or in other words, the pitch.

Standard roof pitches vary depending on each housing project; however, a 6/12 pitch roof can be described as the average sloped roof. Consequently, any angle higher than 9/12 is considered an extreme slope (unsafe to walk on) and any roof lower than 4/12 is no longer considered a pitched roof anymore. Thus, it is possible to have a double pitched roof that is so low that it becomes classified as a flat roof.

The Importance of Pitch

Measuring the pitch of your roof is important because it helps you determine the type of roofing system that is suitable for your home. It also determines what kind of materials need to be used for your roof.

Extremely low-pitch roofs or low slope 2/12-lower are unable to handle shingles due to weight problems in some circumstances and the danger of wind being able to ‘lift’ the shingles and cause immense damage. Because of their lower slope, these roofs are more susceptible to water entry. This is the case for two reasons: wind-driven rain and severe ice dams. This means underlayment requirements must be increased to enhance the water-shedding property of the roof system as a whole.

In addition to weight problems, this would disqualify ceramic and slate (which would also be a waste of money in this case). Areas with volatile climates with severe winds and heavy snowfall will find that lower sloped roofs have a higher chance of caving in. Thus, it is proactive to choose the right pitch in consideration of the local climate. Visit the blog on roof value and replacement for further information regarding the building process, which pitch inevitably falls under.

Lastly, medium pitched roofs (6/12) are the happy medium which can handle winds and snowfall very well while also allowing for semi-safe walking access for repairs. High pitched roofs (9/12- higher) are an extreme version of the latter and do not allow for any safe roof access. They must be repaired or installed by professionals with proper equipment.


The amount of attic-space available in a home directly depends on the roof’s pitch for obvious reasons. The higher the pitch, the more space available. Additionally, this extra space allows for excess heat to gather and may require insulation of some kind. In other words, knowing the pitch of your roof will determine how much extra materials are needed to improve energy efficiency.

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