Differentiating roofs may seem simple. However, there are many different roofing structures to choose from. Aside from the variety of roofing styles that a homeowner is met with, there are various roofing materials and types of roofs to consider as well. If you really decide to get down to it, there are so many options when it comes to roofing. One of the easiest characteristics of a roof, which you will see right away, is the slope. The slope of the roof refers to the rise of the roof. In the simplest sense, this is how slanted a roofing structure is. Some roofs have a steep slope, which means that the roof increases its height over a short length, while some roofs have a low slope. Low sloped roofs are shorter structures. 


Flat Roofs vs Low Slope Roofs

In actuality, flat roofs are actually not completely flat. Roofs have a slight slope, which is necessary to prevent the formation of water pools at the top of the roof. Large buildings have a flat roof, but when it comes to smaller residential or even commercial structures, a slight slope is necessary. Otherwise, a specialized gutter system should be installed throughout the top of a completely flat roof to ensure that water drains off and does not overburden the structure.

How Low is a Low Slope?

A low slope is essentially a roof that has less than a 3:12 ratio. The ratio signifies how many inches the roof rises up per foot length. When you measure a full foot length of a foot and compare the height of one end to another, the difference should not exceed 3 inches. When the difference is more than that, the slope is steep. 

When to Use Low Slope?

Flat or low slope roofs are usually used for commercial buildings. Most commercial property owners take advantage of the extra space that a flat roof provides for HVAC units. Residential buildings, however, usually have high pitched roofing.

Low Slope vs High Pitched Roofs

Aside from the structural difference, there are many other differences between low and high pitched roofs. One of these is how the roof is able to drain away water that accumulates on the roof. Steep slopes have the advantage of using gravity to pull the water down. This means that water simply slides down the side of the roof and with the use of gutters that are installed at the edge, the waters are guided away from the roof. With low slope roofs, however, this process can be a bit more complicated. While a slight slope still allows water to flow away, this is not as effective as the steeper counterparts. This is why the main disadvantage when it comes to low slope roofs is that water damage is more likely.

Low Slope Roof Materials

Because low slope roofs are more prone to water pooling, there are a few roofing materials that are commonly used for low slope roofs. These materials have higher water resistance. Additionally, a continuous membrane covering is added as an underlayment for low slope roofs. This adds an additional protective layer that prevents water from seeping into the roof interior.

Low Slope Roof Material 1: Built-Up Roof

Built-up roofing uses many layers of roofing felt alternated with bitumen or hot asphalt material. These multiple layers create a water-resistant barrier. The roof is topped off with gravel that is embedded into a final top layer of hot bitumen or asphalt. 

Low Slope Roof Material 2: Metal Roof

Metal roofs are also a common option for low slope roofing systems. The material allows water to evaporate easily. This prevents water dams to form. However, if heavy rain is constant, you might need to check on the roof to make sure that no pools have formed. Another advantage of metal roofs is that it is relatively affordable compared to other low slope roofing options. Additionally, there are also many other subtypes of metal roofing to consider.

A low slope roof is basically a roof that is lowered. A few reasons why low slopes are preferred over high pitched roofs is that low slopes can be more affordable – in terms of both maintenance and initial installation. Another advantage includes better heating and cooling for the building. While flat or low slope roofs have definitely been more common for commercial properties, residential properties are slowly taking advantage of the different materials available for flat roofing Yarmouth ME

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