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HomeFactsHow Do You Measure Pitch On A Roof

How Do You Measure Pitch On A Roof

Standard Pitches: 3/12 Through 9/12

How to Measure the Pitch of a Roof

Standard pitch roofs are the common roofing pitches you’ll find on the main living areas of residential homes. Unlike low slope roofs, areas that have a standard slope can use regular roofing shingles without worry. Because there’s enough of a slope, you don’t have to worry about water drainage as much as you would with something like a 2 over 12 low slope roof.

In degrees, standard roof pitches are between 14.04 degrees and 36.37 degrees.

Minimum pitch for shingles

3 over 12 is the minimum slope a roof needs in order to qualify for roofing shingles.

Some roofers still opt for low slope materials with a 3 over 12 pitch, but this is not entirely necessary and just adds to the cost of your project.

Steepest standard pitch

A 9/12 roof pitch . is the steepest standard slope.

Anything above a 9 over 12 is considered steep slope.

How To Calculate Your Roof Slope

Measuring your roof pitch is as simple as using the rise over run equation, the rise being the vertical component and the run being horizontal. For every foot that your roof extends horizontally, it rises by “x” amount of inches. To determine the “x”, you can use a simple measuring technique.

  • After safely accessing your roof, measure 1-foot up from the base of the roof using your measuring tape, this will give you the horizontal run.
  • Place the end of the level at the 1-foot mark but make sure it is creating an “L” shape. Meaning, one of the bottom corners of the level touches the roof but the other bottom corner is suspended in the air.
  • Once the bubble of air in the level is in the middle, measure from the bottom of the level to the top of the roof. This will give you the vertical rise.
  • For example, if what you measured for the “rise” is 6 inches, then the roof pitch is 6/12, meaning for every 12 inches of horizontal length of the roof, the roof rises 6 inches. Steeper pitches will have a higher rise number, say 10/12, versus lower pitched roofs which can be as low as 2/12 for roofs with asphalt shingles, but can be even lower for metal roofs or gambrel style homes with roofs that have many different shaped pitches.

    Using Slope & Pitch Interchangably

    Because home construction is now more complex, remodeling as a whole is too! And contractors have been forced to adapt. In doing so, most contractors are now using slope and pitch interchangeably, especially when writing roofing estimates.

    When reading about pitch and slope, the most common explanation you’ll find is actually a hybrid of the two. You’ll see a measurement referred to as pitch but the real measurement is slope . Historically, there’s a few reasons for this…

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    Using A Roof Pitch Calculator

    A simpler alternative to getting out the pencils and paper, there are numerous options both online and as part of smartphone apps that you can use to work out your pitch. To use these calculators, youll need the same rise and run measurements as with manual calculation. Some are more sophisticated and can tell you your roof pitch just with a photo. Our favourite option is VELUXs Roof Pitch app, which is available for both iPhone and Android.

    These calculators do have some drawbacks, however. The photo-based ones can get things wrong if your camera angle or the ambient lighting isnt ideal. The more primitive calculators can also require so many figures beforehand that you might as well figure your pitch out yourself. However, these apps and tools are getting better all the time, providing an excellent alternative to homeowners that may find it difficult to access their roof space.

    How To Calculate Your Roof Pitch From Inside

    How to Measure the Pitch of Your Roof

    An easier way to calculate your roof pitch without going on the roof is to measure the rafter length or truss system in your attic. Place your level under the bottom of the rafter, and after the bubble is in the center, mark it at 12 inches. Then measure vertically from the level to the roof rafter. This measurement will tell you the number of inches your roof rises in 12 inches of run.

    Read Also: How To Measure A Shingle Roof

    How To Calculate The Pitch Of A Roof

    Pitch is a measurement of the relative steepness of a roof’s slope, and finding the pitch of an existing roof requires only basic tools and simple math.

    Roof pitch is a ratio of a roof’s vertical rise compared to its horizontal span. It is an expression of the angle of the roof, and the pitch measurement gives an idea of the relative steepness or shallowness of the roof.

    How To Measure Your Roof Pitch From Inside The Attic

    If you cannot access your roof or do not feel comfortable doing so, you can safely measure your roof pitch using the truss structures within your attic by measuring the rafter length.

  • Measure 1-foot from the base of the roof on the attic floor, which is the horizontal run of 12 inches.
  • To find the vertical rise, start at the end of the 12-inch mark measurement, simply measure from the floor to the roof rafter.
  • Using our example measurements from before, say the distance from the floor of your attic to the ceiling is 6 inches, which means your roof pitch is 6/12.

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    Measuring Roof Slope And Pitch

    Please note that, according to the International Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection, the inspector is not required to measure the slope of the roof.

    GeometrySlopeSlope RatioThe triangular symbol above the roof line in this architectural elevation provides information on the roof’s slope.

    • in inches per foot.


    Pitch FractionSlope Minimums for Various Roof Coverings

    • Asphalt shingles should be installed on roof slopes 2:12 or greater .
    • Clay and concrete roof tiles should be installed on roof slopes 2.5:12 or greater .
    • Metal roof shingles should be installed on roof slopes 3:12 or greater .
    • Mineral-surfaced roll roofing should be installed on roof slopes 1:12 or greater .
    • Slate shingles should be installed on roof slopes 4:12 or greater .
    • Wood shingles should be installed on roof slopes 3:12 or greater .
    • Wood shakes should be installed on roof slopes 3:12 or greater .
    • Built-up roofs should be installed on roof slopes 0.25:12 or greater , except for coal-tar built-up roofs that have a minimum roof slope of one-eighth unit vertical in 12 units horizontal .
    • Metal roof panels should be installed on roof slopes according to particular seams :
    • minimum roof slope of 3:12 for lapped, nonsoldered-seam metal roofs without lap sealant applied
    • minimum roof slope of 0.5:12 for lapped, nonsoldered-seam metal roofs with lap sealant applied
    • minimum roof slope of 0.25:12 for standing-seam roof systems

    Asphalt ShinglesMeasuring SlopeSummary

    Start The Project With A Roof Area Calculator

    How to Determine the Pitch of a Roof

    Calculating the surface area of a sloped roof can be time-consuming without the right tools. You want a roof area calculator that provides accurate estimates to help you order materials such as shingles, membrane, roofing, or ceramic tile.

    Fortunately, if you know the roofs pitch, or have access to the homes attic to measure its incline you can arrive at an accurate roof area calculation using SketchAndCalc.

    Roofing professionals can also use SketchAndCalc to provide fast accurate quotations over the phone. Experts recommend that a pitch measurement is taken before using a roof area calculator.

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    With A Level And A Tape Measure

    Every good DIYer will have a spirit level and a tape measure in their toolbox. With these two basic tools you can measure the pitch of your roof.

  • Hold your spirit level horizontally so one end sits on the roof and the other in your hand.
  • Find the level point, and then with your tape measure, measure the angle from the end youre holding down to the roof in inches.
  • If the measurement is 6 inches, your roof rises 6 inches per foot . So the pitch is 6/12. From here you can use an online pitch calculator to find the measurement in degrees. This one is 26.57 degrees.

    If youre good at maths, this is the formula if you want to do the sums yourself –

    Roof Pitch = 1 ÷ Tangent

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    Measuring Slope From The Roof Surface

  • 1Confirm the roof is safe to walk on. Climb up a ladder without your tools to take a look at the roof surface. Do not walk on a wet or icy roof, a very steep roof, or one with obvious structural damage. Even a mild slope can be dangerous to walk on if the roofing material is slippery, gritty , or loose . XResearch source It’s best to walk on a roof when the sun is out and morning dew has evaporated. Never walk directly on a slate roof slates can easily be broken by stepping on them. Special scaffolding equipment is required to safely work on slate roofs, both to prevent damage to slates and to mitigate fall hazard.
  • Curled shingles or other non-flat roof coverings make this method less accurate.XResearch source Consider measuring from the rake board at the edge of the roof instead.
  • Wear clean, dry, basketball shoes or sneakers with soft soles. These have good traction but are less likely to leave footprints on your roof.XResearch source
  • 2Measure 12 inches on a carpenter’s level. Mark the length with the marker. Many levels are equipped with a ruler on the side, but this mark is more visible.
  • 3Organize your tools. Place the level, a tape measure, paper, and pen in a bucket or tool belt. Make sure you can ascend the ladder and move around easily while carrying the tools.
  • It may help to lock your tape measure in extended position before you climb. You’ll only need about 12 inches.
  • Crouch down or sit, as to minimize the potential for slipping.
  • The Importance Of A Pitched Roof

    Roof Pitch Calculator

    If a home orbuilding’s roof didn’t have any pitch at all, it would be at a high risk ofcollecting standing water that ends up deteriorating the roof itself,presenting a serious and inevitable risk of leaking through the roof and intothe building. Even on roofs that may appear flat to the naked eye, a slightpitch has probably been built into the roof to facilitate water run-off fromrain and snow.

    Pitched roofsare even more important in regions where snow can accumulate on a roof. Thelower the pitch, the greater the amount of snow that can accumulate on theroof’s surfaceand the weight of this accumulation could potentially break theinterior structure of the roof itself. With a higher roof pitch, snow and heavyrainfall can be sloughed off before structural integrity becomes a concern.

    Roof pitch canalso have the following implications on a home:

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    What Is A Roof Pitch Multiplier

    A roof pitch multiplier, also known as a roof pitch factor, is a number that, when multiplied by the area covered by a sloped roof, gives the actual area of the roof. The math behind this number is that it is the square root of 2 + 1). Roof pitch multipliers are extremely useful in estimating the amount of material required to fit your new sloped roof, as conventional mathematics will leave you short!

    Why Roof Pitch Is Important

    While roof pitch is something most homeowners don’t think about, it’s very important to know when you’re considering a roof replacement. Each type of roof has a minimum roof pitch. If you have a roofing system installed that is not compatible with your home’s pitched roof, the warranty on the system may become void, and you could also end up with water damage.

    Metal roofing systems are a great fit for most roof types. If you are looking into installing a metal roofing system, we are here to help.

    We can help you calculate how much material you will need based on the square footage of your project. In order to determine this, we will need the length and width of your wall or roof.

    Learn More About The Different Types Of Metal Roofing:

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    Steep Slope: 10/12 And Above

    Any pitch that’s at least 10/12 is considered steep slope. This includes 10 over 12, 11 over 12, 12 over 12, and pitch where the rise is greater than the run.

    An important note for roofing contractors: when replacing roofs with steeper pitches, it’s important to consider the safety of your crew. All roofers should be harnessed and strapped in!

    How Many Nails Will You Need

    How to Find the Pitch of a Roof – with a Level and a Measurement Tape

    Nails will also be required for any roofing project. The average 3-tab shingle needs four nails per shingle. High wind areas and other types of shingles may need more. 320 nails will be needed to install a square of standard 3-tab shingles, assuming four nails per shingle and 80 shingles per square.

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    Roof Pitch: How To Find Out The Pitch Of A Roof

    Ready for a new roof? When deciding which type of roofing material to use, some homeowners overlook an important factor: roof pitch. The pitch of your roof will tell you what materials are suitable to use, as not every kind of material can be used on every roof slope.

    At Western States Metal Roofing, we want our customers to be informed. If you don’t know your roof pitch, or what that even means, we are here to help.

    In this article, we will discuss:

    • What Is Roof Pitch?
    • What Is The Standard Size Pitch?
    • How Roof Pitch Affects The Cost Of Installation
    • How To Choose The Right Roofing Material Based on Your Roof Pitch

    How Many Rolls Of Felt Will You Need

    Roofing felt is sold by the roll. The average roll of 15-pound roofing felt covers about 400 ft2, or 4 squares, while the average roll of 30-pound roofing felt covers about 200 ft2, or 2 squares.

    Rolls of felt are 36 wide x 144 long for 15# and 72 long for 30#. Consider other underlayment options as needed, such as rubber or tar products.

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    Search With The Roof Area Calculator

    Accounting for dormer windows and other structures that might share a different pitch, the first step is to calculate the footprint of the roof, or the area it occupies.

    Login to SketchAndCalc and select Show Maps from the Menu.

    Search the homes postal address from the map controls that appear in the top left corner.

    When zoomed in, switch to satellite view.

    Identify the roofs structure. Regardless of complexity , if the roof has a single pitch or incline throughout you can simply draw the perimeter of the entire roof using SketchAndCalcs line drawing tools.

    TIP: Line length labels are displayed as you draw. If you find these labels obscure the view of the roof just switch them off from Menu > Settings > Application. You can also adjust the grid transparency and drawing line weight.

    If the roof has multiple pitches, such as those found on dormer windows or porches you will need to draw these separately. After drawing the perimeter of the roof, add a new drawing layer with the plus symbol found in the bottom right corner. Then proceed to draw the surface area of the roof that has a different pitch. Using dormer windows as an example, youll add a new layer after drawing each dormer.

    How To Work Out Your Roof Pitch


    Unless you work in construction or youve worked on a roof before, its unlikely youll know how to calculate your roofs pitch. This information is incredibly useful for a range of home projects, but absolutely vital if your next DIY endeavour involves your roof. This applies whether youre completely replacing the roof covering or installing a brand new roof window. To do these jobs correctly, you will need to be able to figure out the pitch of your roof.

    Also Check: How Much Does It Cost To Pitch A Roof

    Find The Area Of The Footprint Of The Roof

    To calculate a roofs dimensions, you need to measure the roof as if it were flat, then account for roof pitch, calculate square footage, and finally determine how many squares of material are required for the roof.

    The calculator above can handle all of this, simply enter the length, width, and pitch, and it will determine the size of the roof in squares.

    Start by measuring the roofs length and width in feet as youre standing on the ground. Remember that the length and width need to be found for the roof, not the house, so take into account that the roof overhangs the building.

    Then determine the area of the roof as if it were flat. Multiply the length by the width in feet to get the area measurement.


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