How the Shape of Your Roof Affects Materials that Can be Used

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Having your roof replaced is a big decision that can affect your home for years to come. There are many choices that need to be made after deciding to have your roof replaced. One of the most important is what type of roofing material should be used. 

Whether you’re re-roofing a home you’ve lived in for years or updating one you’ve just moved to, make sure to consider your roofing material options carefully. If your current roofing material hasn’t been performing well, explore new options. If you’re looking for an aesthetic change, make sure you talk to your roofing contractor to ensure the material you want is the best option for your roof. One of the ways to find out what materials will or will not work for your roof is to look at its shape.

What Factors Determine the “Shape” of Your Roof



There are several different factors that describe the geometry of your roof. These include your roof’s pitch, design, and features. What do all these terms mean?

A roof’s pitch is a measure of how steep the planes of your roof are. This is calculated based on how many inches the roof rises vertically across a 12-inch horizontal span. The higher the vertical rise, the higher the pitch. A roof with a low pitch will be nearly flat and easy to walk on, while a roof with a high pitch cannot be walked on without safety equipment.

A roof’s design is a description of its overall shape. There are a wide variety of roof designs. Depending on your location, you might be able to see examples of several different roofing designs in your neighborhood alone. From sturdy A-frame roofs to four-sided hip roofs, the design can determine which roofing materials can be reasonably used on your home or building.

A roof’s features are nuances that are often a result of design, though some can be complete anomalies. Roofing features include areas of your roof such as valleys or dead valleys, which are places that planes of a roof meet. Valleys are where two planes meet smoothly and dead valleys are where sections of roof meet at their downhill edges.

It’s important to know what type of pitch and design your roof has, and what features may be included in it. These factors can affect the cost of roof work, and what materials can be used for your roof replacement, which we’ll look at below.

Which Roofing Materials Work for Different Roof Types?

So which types of roofing materials can you use with your roof? Take a look at some of the most popular types of roofing materials here:

Asphalt Shingles – Asphalt shingles are often a great choice for homes with hip roofs and can be used on roofs with a pitch as low as 2:12. However, it is recommended that they be used on roofs with a pitch above 4:12. On roofs with a pitch between 2:12 and 4:12, an underlayment will be required to ensure standing water does not become a problem. Roofs with dead valleys should also ensure that asphalt shingles in that area will shed water adequately.

Metal Roofing – There are a variety of metal roofing types, which makes it applicable to many different roof types. Metal roofing is one of the first material choices for flat roofs as it is extremely durable and won’t be damaged by environmental hazards, such as piled up snow. For roofs with a pitch lower than 2:12, only standing seam metal roofing should be used. The seams between the panels of this type of metal roofing are crimped so that they won’t allow water leaks.

Wood Shakes – Wood shakes do not do well on low pitch roofs and generally should only be used on roofs with a 4:12 pitch or higher. For the lower pitches, wood shakes should only be installed over waterproof membrane roofs to prevent water damage. Depending on the climate in your area, it may be advisable to have your shakes chemically treated as well. Synthetic shakes can sometimes be used in place of wood ones.

Rolled Roofing – Rolled roofing is often used for low slope residential roofs, such as low pitch hip roofs. It can be rolled out in full strips over a roof or cut into smaller strips that can fit the hip or ridge of a roof seamlessly. This roofing material is made of asphalt coated with mineral grains. 

Tile – Roof tiles are often made of clay or cement and can be used on a variety of roofs. For lower pitch roofs underlayment is recommended. For very high pitched roofs, such as some A-frames have, tiles are not recommended at all since they may rattle in the wind or even be damaged by it. Tiles are often the roofing material chosen for buildings with round roofs since the tiles can be manipulated to fit the roof shape while other materials such as metal roofing cannot.

If you’re still looking for the perfect new roof, the most important thing to do is speak to your roofing contractor. Professional roofers are familiar with the many different types of roofs and will be able to measure your pitch and help you decide the best material for your roof.

This post was provided by Divided Sky Roofing & Exteriors — a family-owned roofing company based in San Marcos, Texas. Divided Sky strives to provide the best roofing services possible to the residents, businesses, and contractors in the Central Texas area.

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