There are many factors that go into the cost of roof installation or roof repair. If you’re new to homeownership, or if this is your first time hiring someone to take a look at your roof, you might be wondering about some of the key aspects of your roof that can affect the cost of your job. One key consideration that your roofer will have to factor into your roof repair or installation is the slope of your roof. Here’s what you need to know:
What is Roof Slope, and How Do We Talk About It?
A roof’s slope, or pitch, refers to how steep it is. Roofers calculate roof slope by looking at how much height a roof gains in a set horizontal measurement. This is represented by a fraction. Most often you’ll see numbers like 3/12 or 6/12.
The first number represents how many inches the roof rises vertically. The second number refers to the span of the roof or the horizontal distance it takes for the roof to rise. Take a look at this diagram for a visual example:
Photo cred: Photo Courtesy of InchCalculator.com
Most often, roof slope is measured with the second number as 12, because that represents one foot. So, a roof with a 6/12 slope would rise 6 inches for every horizontal foot from the gutters to the roof’s peak.
Why Are There So Many Roof Slopes?
Nearly every home has a different roof slope. For some, it’s an architectural style, but the slope of a roof does actually serve a function. The steeper your roof, the easier it will be for precipitation like rain and snow to slide off. That’s why you’ll often see homes with steeper roofs in areas like the Midwest and Northeast where it snows a lot, and flatter roofs in the Southwest, where they don’t deal with much precipitation.
Examples of Home Styles with High and Low Roof Slope
Since there are so many different types of roof slopes, it might be helpful to picture the difference between a low and high roof slope. For example:
- A High Roof Slope is commonly seen in classic New England home styles, like Colonials and Victorians. They have tall, steep roofs that make them seem dramatic. This isn’t by coincidence, either. Most homes in New England face a great deal of snow in the winter, so their steep roof slopes look good with their home-style, but they also serve the purpose of shedding all of that snow.
- A Low Roof Slope is common in home styles that became popular in the 50s and 60s because a low sloped roof is much easier to build. Craftsman homes and traditional ranches feature lower roof slopes.
Why Do Steep-Sloped Roofs Cost More?
If you’re looking into building a new home, or if it’s time for a new roof on your existing house, and you’re wondering how much the project will cost you, it’s good to know that homes with very steep roof slopes will cost a bit more. For reference, most residential homes feature roofs with a slope of 3/12 to 8/12. Anything taller than that is considered steep and could cost a bit more for you to repair or reroof. Here’s why:
It’s Not Walkable
Roofs with a steep slope aren’t walkable. That means your roofer’s crew can’t easily stand on the roof and walk around to install new shingles without fear of falling off. Roofs that aren’t walkable require that roofers take additional care when moving about, which adds time onto your project. Since roofers bill by labor hour, this can add a bit to the cost of your roof repair.
Additional Safety Equipment
Roofers working on steep roofs require additional safety equipment, again because they can’t easily walk on your roof. Depending on how steep your roof is, roofing crews might need scaffolding or rigging to make sure all workers are safe while they’re completing your roof repair. This equipment takes time to set up, and money to rent or purchase, so your roofing quote will reflect that.
Different Installation Techniques
Steeper roofs require different installation techniques. Roofs that are fairly flat can be installed easily, with a minimal amount of nails in each shingle. Roofs that are steeper require a bit of extra work to ensure your shingles stay on in the face of that steep roof slope. Often, roofers have to use more nails per shingle, work with a different material, or install a unique roofing underlayment to comply with your area’s building codes and to make sure that your roof is doing its job. Since these techniques are outside of the normal scope of a roofing job, you may have to pay a bit more to have your roof or roof repair completed.
Roofs with a steep slope take more work and a more experienced crew. Not all roofers have the crew and the tools necessary to complete work on a very steeply sloped roof. That means there’s less competition for the roofers who can complete that work, and they’re able to set their prices a bit more freely. If you have a roof with a steep slope, it’s always good to get bids from multiple roofers and make sure that the roofer you’re talking to has experience roofing homes with a steep roof slope. Don’t just take the lowest bid — make sure you’ve done your homework, and find a roofer you can trust to do the job right.
In the end, repairing or installing a roof with a steep slope could cost a bit more money, and take a little extra time. That said, you should be able to find a roofer who can work with you to find the best solution for your home, your roof, and your budget. Whether you’re building a new home and need a roof, or you’re worried about the slope of your roof affecting upcoming repairs, give the experts at Werner Roofing a call. We’re happy to help, regardless of the slope of your roof, and we always offer a free inspection before we start any work.