Choosing the Right Roofing Style (Comprehensive Guide)

The decision between a flat or pitched roof can be daunting as a homeowner. Pitched roofs feature a sharp downward angle on both sides, while flat roofs are the opposite. Each option has its share of pros and cons, but a choice must be made between the two. 

A pitched roof has a longer lifespan of up to 50 years and requires less maintenance, but they are more expensive, averaging $6,000. Flat roofs cost as low as $3,000 to install, however, they require more frequent repairs and only last for 10-15 years. Pitched roofs are best for a classic curb appeal, while a flat roof fits a modern aesthetic.   

If you’re stuck on whether to incorporate a flat or pitched roof into the design of your new home, you’re not alone. In this article, you will learn the intricate differences between both options, and how each one can benefit you as a homeowner. Read on for an in-depth analysis of the advantages and drawbacks of each to help you make a sound decision for your upcoming project. 

What is a Pitched Roof?

A pitched roof is angled at a downward slope. When looking at a pitched roof, you will notice a central ridge where the slopes begin on either side. The actual angles vary, but a pitched roof generally exceeds 10 degrees. 

A pitched roof can be classified in several ways. There are many types of pitched roofs you may come across, differentiated by their slope angles and orientations. Specifically, there are over 8 styles of pitched roofs, and the list keeps getting longer. 

Pitched Roof

The mono-pitched roof, for example, is the most simple application of this style. As the name suggests, it consists of just one sloping surface. This is different from the double pitched roof, which consists of two angles between 45 and 60 degrees. Other styles in this category include the slant, king post, and collar beam roof, to name a few. 

Pros of Pitched Roofs 

Pitched roofs provide more benefits to a home than just style. From longer lifespan to a classic curb appeal, these are the advantages that come with a pitched roof you should consider when making your decision. 

Longer Lifespan 

Pitched roofs come with a longer lifespan than the classic flat roof. On average, they last 20 years, but this can be extended all the way to 50 years depending on the material and other environmental factors. 

Pitched roof’s angle deflects rain, snow, and hail

In comparison to a standard roof, a pitched roof’s angle deflects rain, snow, and hail. This makes it less susceptible to damage, thus increasing its lifespan. With less frequent repairs, you can count on a pitched roof to be around for a long time before needing replacement. 

Less Maintenance 

As previously mentioned, the sharp downward angle of a pitched roof allows it to deflect rain, hail, and snow. In the event of extreme weather, a pitched roof provides a sloped surface for moisture to easily run off instead of collecting and causing damage. 

Although less maintenance is required for a pitched roof, this does not mean that no maintenance is needed at all. If you have a pitched roof, you will need to clean it regularly, especially during seasons with heavy rain or snow. 

With several raised points on a pitched roof, it’s easy for dirt, dust, and debris to collect in these areas. Although far less frequent than flat roofs, pitched roofs still require this upkeep a few times a year. 

Holds Its Value 

When it comes time to sell your home, the age and condition of your roof will play a large role in how the value is assessed. Since a pitched roof has an extended lifespan, it’s unlikely to need replacement at the time of the sale. 

Pitched roofs are highly resistant to wear and tear, so the appearance will add to the curb appeal and become an attractive selling point for interesting buyers. In the case of a flat roof, a homeowner in the same scenario may be forced to pay for repairs or replacements in preparation for the sale, or accept a significant cut in the selling price. 

Classic Curb Appeal 

The roof of a home contributes to the curb appeal significantly. A pitched roof, in particular, adds a unique architectural element that stands out from the basic design. Those who enjoy a classic, cottage-like look will appreciate the curb appeal a pitched roof brings to the exterior of a home. 

Cons of a Pitched Roof 

Although pitched roofs provide several benefits to homeowners, they come with their fair share of cons as well. These are the disadvantages you may experience if you choose a pitched roof when building your home. 

Higher Installation Cost 

If you decide to take advantage of the positive aspects of a pitched roof for your home, you should expect to pay more to install it than you would with a flat roof. On average, the cost to install a brand new pitched roof ranges from $6,000 to $12,000. The overall cost will depend on the materials you choose, the type and angle of pitched roof, and how large your home is. 

A flat roof converted to a pitched roof is even more expensive. In the event of a remodel or addition, it can cost $15,000 to $20,000 to raise the pitch on a flat roof. Bigger projects can cost up to $100,000. 

Pitched roofs are much more expensive than classic options because the sloped angle creates more surface area, resulting in higher material costs. You will also pay more for labor, as this type of roof requires skill and precision to install correctly.  

Less Modern Aesthetic 

Pitched roofs are an excellent choice for those who are a fan of the “classic” curb appeal. However, if you are into a more modern aesthetic, this roof type will not be ideal. 

Most modern homes are constructed with a completely flat roof, with the rest of the structure following a modular, box-like pattern. The classical slope of a pitched roof would not fit in with this modular design, which is a deal breaker for many homeowners. 

What is a Flat Roof? 

Contrary to a pitched roof, a flat roof is exactly what it sounds like. The alternative option has little to no slope, resting at a 10 degree angle or less. Instead of a sharp downward slope, flat roofs have a very subtle angle. 

There are several types of flat roofs to choose from when building a home, and they can be made of a wide variety of materials. Metal, spray-on, and modified bitumen are popular choices. 

Flat Roof

Flat roofs also provide the opportunity for builders to get creative with the design. Green roofs are a trend in modern-style homes, incorporating a garden landscape on top of the flat roof’s surface. Like pitched roofs, a flat roof comes with a series of advantages and disadvantages for the homeowner. 

Pros of a Flat Roof 

A flat roof is an excellent choice for a newly built home. In addition to the modern look it provides, flat roofs are cost-effective and space-saving. 

Lower Installation Cost 

Flat roofs are much cheaper to install than pitched roofs. This is due to the simplicity of installation and decreased surface area. Because there is no angle to create, the process of building a flat roof is far less complex and more cost-effective. 

When installing a flat roof, you will pay less labor costs because of the decreased time it takes to put in. On top of this easier process, there’s no extra surface area to build or cover with additional materials, which contributes to the low price. 

The cost of installing a flat roof is $3,000 on the low end or $6,000 on the high end. The most expensive flat roofs are comparable in price to the lowest-cost pitched roofs. 

Modern Look 

Flat roofs integrate seamlessly with modern-style homes. If you’re building a modular structure, a flat roof will be necessary to complete the design. A pitched roof simply does not fit with this type of architecture. 

When you install a flat roof, you can participate in many current design trends, from the green roof to a modern rooftop deck. The clean, minimal appearance of a flat roof is attractive for many homeowners and builders. 

Provides More Space 

A flat roof comes with much more space than a pitched roof. They can be used for design purposes, such as a green roof application, or for more practical purposes. For instance, a flat roof has the capacity to hold an air conditioning unit, while a pitched roof doesn’t have the space. 

When you take advantage of this flat surface area, you can maximize your interior space significantly by moving unwanted appliances to the exterior. This is simply not possible with a pitched roof; in the opposite scenario, you would have to sacrifice living space for bulky appliances indoors. 

Cons of a Flat Roof

The cons of a flat roof are decreased lifespan and more maintenance. This type of roof is also prone to leaks, which can contribute to higher repair and replacement costs

Decreased Longevity 

A flat roof has a significantly shorter lifespan than a pitched roof. The lack of angle on this type of roof provides the opportunity for water and debris to collect on the surface with nowhere to go. Prolonged exposure to puddles of water or stubborn dirt will result in a more frequent need for replacement. 

The longevity of a flat roof averages between 15 and 20 years. However, this number can decrease based on materials. Modified bitumen roofs, in particular, have a shorter average lifespan at 10 to 15 years. 

More Routine Maintenance 

With more exposure to the elements comes more frequent maintenance. Flat roofs require routine cleaning, checks, and repairs to remain in good conditioning throughout the year. 

When you have a flat roof, it’s essential to have proper drainage in place. Contrary to pitched roofs, there is nowhere for excess water to run off naturally. As a result, you will need to ensure your drains are clear to get rid of standing water. 

In addition to moisture, flat roofs can collect dirt, leaves, branches, and more. It’s the responsibility of the homeowner to regularly sweep the surface to clear this debris. 

The roof is not the only area to look out for. When you have a flat roof, it’s essential to keep up with the surrounding trees. If you have any overhanging branches, they can damage the surface or destroy pieces of it during a storm. 

Flat roofs need to be recoated once every 5 to 10 years. Damage from the sun’s UV rays, rain, snow, and hail will eventually wear down the surface. To maintain the condition of your roof for the maximum of 20 years, these maintenance tasks are necessary to stay on top of. 

More Prone to Leaks 

Since flat roofs have no angle on the surface, water from rain, snow, and ice has nowhere to go. Although most homes have a drainage system in place for this purpose, this cannot remove 100% of standing water. 

Puddles of water on the surface of a roof can easily travel to other areas, especially when there is a crack or opening. This is why flat roofs are more prone to leaks than their pitched counterparts. 

Price Comparison of Flat vs. Pitched Roof 

As previously explained, there is a sharp contrast in the price for a pitched roof vs a flat one. Pitched roofs are double the cost of flat roofs in many instances, however, the final cost will depend on a variety of factors. The following table will provide a more in-depth understanding of the average costs involved for both roofs. 

Roof Type Installation Repairs Replacement 
Pitched Roof$6,000-$12,000$1,200-$3,500$10,000-$12,000
Flat Roof$3,000-$6,000$400-$1,200$5,000-$6,000

Which Roof Should You Choose? 

Deciding which type of roof to install in your new home is a tough choice for any homeowner to make, however, it must be done. The right choice for you will depend on how much you are willing to spend on installation, the maintenance tasks you are comfortable with, and the benefits that are most important. 

A pitched roof is the best choice if you’re going for a classic curb appeal with the design of your home. This is the ideal option for less maintenance and replacement costs, however, your budget must support the higher price for installation. 

A flat roof can help you achieve a modern look in your new home, offering plenty of opportunities to get creative with the design or maximize your interior space. If your budget is limited, you should go with a flat roof to save money. 

Pitched roofs are generally the better option when it comes to quality, longevity, and durability. Flat roofs are gratifying at first, but they are more susceptible to leaks and can decrease the value of your home when it’s time to sell. Although they cost more upfront, a pitched roof will provide a better return on your investment. 

Overall, each roof option has its pros and cons. It’s up to you as the homeowner to decide which features you want to enjoy, and the disadvantages you’re willing to deal with. We hope this guide has equipped you with all the necessary knowledge to feel empowered in your decision between a flat roof vs a pitched roof for your next project. 

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