No matter if you are planning a new home construction or if you just need a new roof, you need to start thinking about how your roof should be alike. The truth is that there isn’t only a huge variety of roofs as there is also a wide range of roofing materials that are available today. However, before you even think about the materials, it is important that you consider the slope of the roof itself.
Why Is The Slope Important?
While most people believe that the slope of a roof is only important in terms of aesthetics and how your new home will look like, the reality is that the roof pitch is necessary for two different things. The first one is to determine the amount of material that you will need to order. And the second one is to know the best materials that can suit your roof. However, before all this, it is crucial that you learn how to pitch of a roof.
What Is A Roof Pitch?
Simply put, and when we are referring to the building construction, the roof pitch is the steepness of a roof that can be quantified by a ration. This ratio reflects the number of angular degrees than one exposure surface deviates from the horizontal level.
In case you don’t know, a roof surface can either be pitched or functionally flat.
Whenever you hear or read someone talking about the roof pitch, slope, incline or angle, you need to know that they are always referring to the same thing: the steepness of a roof.
When we are talking about roofs, you should keep in mind that when the pitch term is used, it means that it’s expressed in terms of 12 inches. So, as you can easily understand, the pitch of a roof is determined by how many inches the slope rises for every 12 inches it runs horizontally.
So, when the roof increases by 4 inches n height for every foot of horizontal run, it is considered to have a 4-pitch or a 4-in-12 pitch.
How To Measure The Roof Pitch
When you are looking to measure a roof, pitch, you need to know that you can do it using different methods. The first one if using our roof pitch calculator and the second one is to calculate the roof pitch by hand. So, let’s check each one in detail.
#1: Using Our Roof Pitch Calculator
The first thing that you need to know about our roof pitch calculator is that it’s not only free as it is easy to use as well as versatile.
If you take a look at the top of this page where our roof pitch calculator is located, you will be able to see that you have two different options:
- Rise and Run
- Angle in Degrees
While we are going to focus more on these two different options later on, it is important to notice that you have two different options with our calculator for roof pitch.
In case you choose the option Rise and Run, you will need to fill two different blanks the Rise and the Run. Notice that you have the option to add the measurements in different units. You can use inches, feet, yards, centimeters, and meters. As soon as you fill in these two values and select the unit of measurement that you used, you just need to click on the Calculate button.
In case you choose the option Angle in Degrees, all you need to do is to add the angle in degrees number and click on the Calculate button.
As you can see, it is pretty easy to use our free calculator for roof pitch.
While we have already shown you the fastest way (and also the most accurate) to calculate the pitch of your new roof, we believe that it is also very important that you can do it by hand.
The best way to get your measurements right is to get access to the roof from inside the building. In case this is not possible, you can still go to the roof and make your measurements right from the top or you can also use a ladder and take your measurements at the edge of the roof.
In case this is the first time you are trying to measure a roof, then you need to know that you will need a contractor’s level at least 24 inches long and a tape measure.
Then, you will need to place the butt end of the level right against the edge of the roof and extend it into the air. You need to make sure that you balance it so that it becomes level. At this point, you’ll be able to measure down from the exposed butt end back to the roof surface.
After this, you will need to divide the results by the number of 12 inches segments in your level. For example, let’s say that you used a 24 inches level and your measurement was 12 inches. In this case, you can state that your roof is 6-in-12.
Roof Pitch In Degrees
In the following table, you can see the degree table that you will get depending on the roof pitch that you calculated:
Roof Pitch Degree Table
#1: Measuring The Rise And Run From The Roof
If you remember our roof pitch calculator, we mentioned that you had two different options. One of them was the Rise and Run option. So, let’s see how you can determine it manually.
As we already told you, one of the ways that you have to calculate the pitch of your roof is to climb on the roof and measure the rise for a 12 inches run.
As you can easily understand, you will need a level that is at least 12 inches long as well as you’ll need a tape measure. As you are on the roof, you will need to hold the level perfectly level so that you can measure the height from the roof to the level 12 inches away from where the level touches the surface. This is where the rise is.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that your level is 4 inches above the roof at a point 12 inches away from where the level is touching the surface. In this situation, you can say that the pitch of this roof is 4/12.
#2: Measuring The Rise And Run From The Attic
As we told you, you may not have a chance to measure the roof by going directly up there. So, if you have access to the inside of the building, then you can simply use the attic and measure the rise for a 1 inches run of the roof rafters. Again, you will need to hold a level perfectly leveled and touching a rafter at one end. As soon as you do this, you just need to measure the distance from the level to the rafter 12 inches away from where the level touches the rafter.
#3: Measuring The Total Rise And Total Run To Find The Pitch
In case you already know the total height of the peak as well as the width of the roof, then you can easily calculate the pitch of the roof with some simple math calculations.
Let’s say that you already know that the peak of the roof is 4 feet and that the total roof is 20 feet. So, the total rise is 4 feet or 48 inches.
In what concerns the total run which is the distance from the peak to the edge of the roof, is, in this case, the total width divided in half. So, this means that it is equal to 10 feet or 120 inches.
Since the roof pitch is expressed as a rise over a 12 inches (as we mentioned above), then you just need to divide the run by 12 to get the multiplier.
In this case, it will be: 48 / 10 = 4.8. S, we can then state that the pitch of this roof is 4.8.
#4: Measuring The Roof Pitch Using A Speed Square
When you are trying to find the pitch of a roof, you can also use a speed square and a level. In this case, you will need to set the level on the edge of the speed square and then place the heel of the speed square on a rafter or gable edge of the roof.
At this point, you will need to hold the level and the speed square level and locate the measurement on the speed square where it meets the bottom edge of the rafter. This will allow you to determine the angle o the roof in degrees.
Roof Pitch Calculator In Degrees
One of the things that we already mentioned when we were talking about our roof pitch calculator app was that you could also use the Angle in Degrees calculator. But how can you do it manually?
The truth is that this is not very hard. In fact, when you are trying to find the roof pitch in degrees, you will need to convert the pitch to a slope and then convert to degrees. You can do this by finding the arctangent of the slope.
So, in this case, the first thing that you will need to do is to convert the pitch to a slope. In order to do this, you will need to grab the rise and run value that you got and convert it from a fraction to a decimal form:
Slope = Rise / Run
Then, you will need to find the degrees by finding the arctangent of the slope, eg. degrees = atan(slope).
Let’s imagine that your roof pitch is 4/12:
Then: 4 / 12 = 0.333
atan(.333) = 18.4178
Angle = 18.4°
Using The Roof Pitch Calculator In Degrees To Order Materials
As soon as you determine the width and length of the space that you will cover, you can apply the roof pitch to know exactly how much roofing material you need to order. One of the things that you need to know is that this requires certain simple calculations. However, we believe that we will be able to help you with that as well.
The Multipliers Used When Estimating The Roof Area Based On The Slope
When you determined that you have 0 pitch to 1.00X the roof area. This means that we are talking about a flat or almost flat roof. In these cases, you can simply measure everything by walking the roof itself.
Here is a roof pitch chart that may help you:
And when you need the roof pitch in degrees:
|12 pitch||45 degrees|
|11 pitch||42.5 degrees|
|10 pitch||40 degrees|
|9 pitch||37 degrees|
|8 pitch||33.75 degrees|
|7 pitch||30.5 degrees|
|6 pitch||26.5 degrees|
|5 pitch||22.5 degrees|
|4 pitch||18.5 degrees|
|3 pitch||14 degrees|
|2 pitch||9.5 degrees|
|1 pitch||4.5 degrees|
|0 pitch||0 degrees|
How Roof Pitch Manifests Itself In Different Roof Types
The truth is that roof shapes haven’t always been the same. They have evolved in time and they vary between different regions. You can have a flat to a steeply pitched roof.
Some of the most common roofs today include:
#1: Flat Roofs:
Flat roofs tend to be very common especially with industrial buildings that have wide roof spans. Besides, they are very popular in dry climates for houses since there is no need for the roof to help disperse snow and rain. Nevertheless, even in these regions, flat roofs are still installed with a slight pitch to prevent water from pooling on top of the structure.
#2: Mono-Pitched Roof:
This kind of roof includes all roofs between a taller wall to a wall of lesser height to produce a slope. You can usually see this kind of roof on simple shed buildings.
#3: Saw-Tooth Roofs:
These tend to be often seen on old-school factories that were built with several mono-pitched roofs that are used to allow sunlight to filter down to the shop floor.
#4: Pent Roof:
This kind of roof tends to be seen on residential terraces and is a collection of mono-pitched roofs.
#5: Gable Roof:
This is the traditional triangle-shaped roof and it can range from a medium pitch to sharp-angled roofs.
#6: A-Frame Roof:
This is the sharpest gable-style roof and it resembles the shape of the letter A. This is the kind of roof that you can see on Nordic ski chalets as well as om tropical huts.
#7: Asian-Style Roofs:
This kind of roofs is often medium pitch which emphasizes the horizontal spread of the buildings.
#8: Hipped Roofs:
These are those distinctive roofs that have overhanging eaves. They feature four medium pitched sides and you can see them in northern climates.
#9: Saltbox Roofs:
This kind of roof features a long, pitched roof on one side, similar to the lid on a salt storage box.
#10: Mansard Roof:
This kind of roof is the opposite of the Saltbox roof. In fact, it features two pitches, one a shallow pitch atop a steeper slope.
#11: Pyramidal Roofs:
These can be often seen on square buildings and thy feature four slopes rising to a peak. These are often steeply pitched roofs.
#12: Gambrel Roofs:
These roofs tend to be very popular for barns and other structures where you need to create an additional interior room. These stepped roofs feature a short steep, non-walkable slope before rising more gently to a ridge peak.
#13: Clerestory Roofs:
This is a kind of roof that is also very used by factories that need light infiltration. This roof features long, low-pitched roofs before the building rises to a traditional gabled section atop the structure.
#14: Conical Roofs:
This type of roof comes with the staple of Queen Anne Victorian architecture and it features conical towers that are topped with dunce-cap roofs that are too steep to be walked on.
#15: Arched Roofs:
These roofs can be seen on utility structures.
#16: Circular Roofs:
These full arched roofs can be anything from domes to decorative Byzantine-inspired onion domes. Domed roofs can be low-pitched or fully circular.
Pros And Cons Of The Different Roof Pitch Angles
As you can imagine, when you are thinking about roof pitch angles and the ones that best suit your home, you need to consider their pros and cons. So, let’s do a quick recap:
#1: Low Pitch Roofs:
This kind of roofs tend to be easier to install and they are also safer to maintain and repair since you can walk around on them. This ends up being a good thing since this type of roofs are more prone to leaks and they do require frequent inspections.
It’s rare to see low pitch roofs such as 1 12 roof pitch, 2 12 roof pitch or even a 3 12 roof pitch in regions that have severe weather. After all, there would be snow accumulation. On the other hand, they tend to be quite popular in regions of sparse rainfall and are favored by modern architects in contemporary designs.
#2: Medium Pitched Roofs:
Medium pitched roofs are available in a wide variety of styles. Besides, one of their main advantages is that they can help disperse both rain and snow.
Since their roof pitch angles are not exaggerated, you can walk around their surface when you need to inspect the roof or even do some repair.
#3: High Pitched Roofs:
These are the roof pitch examples where you simply can’t walk around. However, they do deliver an exciting appearance.
This type of roof tends to be more expensive to install and when it needs repair, you will need to hire a roofing contractor to help you.
Suitable Materials For Pitched Roofs
The truth is that most roof contractors only considers a pitched roof if it is a 3 12 roof pitch. So, we will not be referring to 2 12 roof pitch or lower in this section.
One of the things that you already know is that the slope varies a lot. So, while some A-frame homes are 12-in-12, there are roofs that can be even steeper. These roofs almost have vertical faces and they can boast a pitch of 20-in-12. Notice that these roof pitch examples are difficult to achieve since the higher the degree, the more difficult the installation process will be.
When you look at pitched roofs, it is normal to see them using shingles. Nevertheless, standing-seam roofs are becoming very popular even on pitched roofs. In case you don’t know, shingles may be manufactured using a wide variety of materials including asphalt, tiles, metal, natural wood, and heavy slate. So, as you can imagine, the final cost will depend on the material that you choose. Besides, shingles are also available in a wide variety of colors and even sizes.