Determining The Roof Pitch For Your Weather
The first thing to do is to check the building codes for your county and state. A reputable roofing contractor will be familiar with the pitch required by these codes.
Pitch is a measure of the steepness of a roof. The pitch of the roof is determined by the vertical rise in inches for every horizontal twelve inch length. A flat roof would have a 2/12 pitch while the average roof pitch would be between 4/12 and 9/12. Any pitch higher than 9/12 is considered a steep pitch.
Pitched roofs, including gabled and hipped roofs, are the most common types in the United States. The purpose of pitching a roof is to enable water and snow to run off, so the greater the amount of rain and/ or snow an area receives, the greater the amount of pitch needed for the roof. If water does not properly run off of a roof it will begin to seep in, causing rot, interior damage, and possibly dangerous black mold. If a roof does not shed snow, the built up snow can become so heavy that the roof will collapse.
While roofs with a steeper pitch are more attractive have better drainage, they will cost more to build since they require more lumber and more labor. Some of the extra cost of a steep roof can be offset by the fact that they tend to last longer and require less maintenance.
The two most common types of roof are gabled and hipped. A gabled roof is the most common style. It is shaped like a triangle, with two sloping sides that meet in the middle. Gabled roofs are built with varying degrees of pitch, that allow for rain and snow to run off easily. The drawback is that they can be susceptible to wind damage. The shearing force of a tornado or major storm can push the roof one way and the walls another. This can twist your house or even lift the roof right off.
A hipped roof has four sloping surfaces, with one surface resting on each exterior wall of the house. It is a low-pitched roof that slopes upward from all sides of the building. A hipped roof is one of the most stable types and can withstand high winds.
You will want to ensure enough pitch to allow for plenty of insulation. Roof insulation plays an important role in reducing the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling your home. Proper use of insulation and roofing materials can greatly reduce your energy costs. The insulating ability of the material is measured by an R-value, the higher the R-value the better the insulation. Warm air rises, so it is especially important to use a high R-value insulation in a cold climate to prevent heat from escaping through the roof. Some homeowners also add thin sheets of reflective aluminum in the attic to reduce radiant heat loss.
Most roofs in the United States are dark colored. Dark colored surfaces do not reflect heat and can reach temperatures as high as 200 degrees F during extremely hot weather. Dark roofs create higher cooling costs. Using a lighter colored roof will reflect heat away from your home resulting in temperatures up to 70 degrees cooler than a dark colored roof.
Your roof can protect you, your family, and your belongings from heat, cold, storms, hail, snow and other dangerous conditions. Your roofing contractor can help you choose the type of roof appropriate for your climate and budget.
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