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Pitched Roof Material - Choices

Updated on January 10, 2017

Design of a roof addition over an existing concrete patio in Bozeman

Pitched Roof
Pitched Roof

Roof Slopes

Roofs that are not flat are pitched, or sloped. The standard way to describe the slope is by the number of feet the roof rises vertically (called the rise) for every 12 horizontal feet (called the run). If a roof has a 4-ft rise in a 12-ft run, it has a slope of 4 in 12.

Roofing materials come in various, and unequal, types. Some are suitable only for steep roofs (with slopes, say, of 7 in 12). No matter what the roofing material, do not install a material on a roof with a slope lower than the minimum specified by the manufacturer.

The most common pitched roof material is asphalt shingles, which are suitable for roofs down to a slope of 4 in 12, or 2 in 12 using special procedures prescribed by the manufacturer. Older asphalt shingles are made by forming wood pulp and paper into a mat, saturating it with asphalt, and then covering the top with mineral granules. The granules add weight and body, prevent abrasions and, most importantly, keep sunlight from degrading the mat.

These wood pulp based shingles now have been all but replaced by shingles made with a fiberglass mat. These shingles are lighter and last longer. Because deteriorates much slower than organic materials, fiberglass-based asphalt shingles should last 25 to 40 years, rather than the 15 to 30 years that the older, wood based type usually lasted.Generally both types of shingles last longer than their guaranteed life. Fibreglass based asphalt shingles are a bit more expensive than the old kind, but more than pay for themselves over their longer lives.

Of course, there are other suitable roofing materials that may be more appropriate than asphalt shingles in certain locations or on certain buildings.


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