Low-slope roofs are angled at 10 degrees or less. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, there are plenty of advantages you can enjoy with this roofing option for your home.
The best materials to use for a low-slope roof are metal, rubber, tar and gravel, single ply, and modified bitumen. Metal is highly durable, but is also the most expensive. If budget is a concern, you may choose rubber instead, although it’s not as visually pleasing. You should stay away from asphalt, as it’s not compatible with low-slope roofs due to its drainage requirements.
If you plan to install a low-slope roof, you may be wondering which material to choose. In this article, you will learn about all of your options and how to decide which one is best for your situation.
Why Have a Low-Slope Roof?
Low-slope roofs can provide you with a variety of benefits, from less wasted space to increased energy options. Since this type of roof is designed at a slight angle, there is no room for an attic that may not be needed.
This also contributes to less materials needed to build the roof at such a low slope, whereas roofs with a sharp angle create more surface area that needs to be covered. For this reason, low-slope roofs are less expensive to install. Not only will you pay for fewer supplies, but labor costs will decrease for a quicker project.
A roof built at a slight angle provides adequate space for solar panels to be installed and used. Similarly, low-slope roofs compliment modular homes and other modern designs many homeowners are attracted to.
Because low-slope roofs are almost completely flat, they are easy to clean and maintain. It’s much safer to walk on top of this type of roof, and regular cleaning can be done without the need to hire a professional.
Although low-slope roofs provide all of these benefits and more, you should be aware of the disadvantages as well. The cons of this roof design are increased maintenance, higher probability of damage, shorter lifespan, and material limitations.
Since low-slope roofs don’t incorporate any steep angles, water and debris are likely to collect on the top. This can progress to leaks and damages that require frequent repairs.
You will need to stay on top of maintenance tasks with a low-slope roof to ensure it doesn’t get dirty or sustain any cracks. For these reasons, flat roofs typically only last for 10 to 15 years before replacement is necessary. Even further, the materials you can use for a low-slope roof are limited, so it’s recommended to seek professional advice before building.
What To Think About When Picking a Low-Slope Roof Option
The decision between a low-slope roof and one with a higher pitch can be difficult. Along with understanding the pros and cons of a flat roof design, you should be aware of how this type of roof compares to others based on key factors: quality, longevity, cost, ease of installation, and style.
Quality is one of the most important factors, as it will determine the lifespan of your roof and maintenance responsibilities you can expect. The quality of your low-slope roof will depend on the materials you choose and how it is installed. It’s important to keep in mind that flat roofs have a tendency to collect moisture and debris over time, so your roofing materials should be extra durable for the best results.
The longevity of the roofing type you choose will help you understand when replacement will be necessary. In comparison to other roofing options with steeper angles, low-slope roofs do not last as long. You can expect a lifespan of up to 20 years at most with proper care. The alternatives more than double in life expectancy, at up to 50 years on average.
As with any home project, budget is an important factor to consider before you get started with your project. Fortunately, low-slope roofs are cheaper than other designs, averaging between $1,000 and $5,000 for professional installation. If you’re interested in this style of roof, you’re in luck when it comes to the cost.
Ease of Installation
Understanding the installation process of your roof will give you an idea of how many interruptions you can expect in your living space and for how long. Low-slope roofs are less complex in design and don’t require as many special skills to install as a high-pitched roof. Therefore, you will have an easier time locating a qualified team for the job, and will most likely experience a seamless installation process overall.
Aside from the functional purposes mentioned above, your roofing choice will directly impact your home’s curb appeal. This is important when it’s time to sell, but will also affect how you feel when looking at your house every day. Low-slope roofs are a popular choice when aesthetics are the most important factor, fitting in seamlessly with modern architecture.
What are the Best Materials For Low Slope Roofs?
After you’ve decided a low-slope roof will suit your home the best, you will need to consider your material options. Luckily, there are tons of choices to fit any style and budget, which we will explain in more detail below.
Metal is a great choice for a low-slope roof due to its durability and energy efficiency. It is also aesthetically pleasing, giving you lots of options to get creative with the design of your home’s exterior.
Metal roofing is friendly to the environment, and can help lower your energy bills. However, it comes with a few cons, beginning with the cost. Metal is one of the most expensive roofing options, averaging between $7 and $12 per square foot. It will cost approximately $18,000 to install metal roofing on a 2,000 sq ft house, and over $20,000 for larger homes.
Additionally, metal roofing is noisy and can be easily damaged. In the event of a fallen tree branch, your roof can become dented.
|Durable Environmentally friendly Energy-efficient Aesthetically pleasing||Expensive Easily damaged (dents) Noisy|
Rubber is another possible option for a low-slope roof. You may consider this material for its easy repairs and safety features. Rubber is resistant to fires and damage from heat, and is also recyclable.
Although it requires less maintenance, rubber roofs can be an eyesore. They are also easily damaged and can collect punctures over time. Dry conditions are required to install a rubber roofing system, which may be inconvenient in some areas.
For a home under 2000 sq ft in size, you can expect to pay $3,000, or around $2 per square foot. For larger homes, the cost averages at $4,000 or more for a rubber roof installation.
|Easy repairs less maintenance Recyclable Resistant to fires||Appearance Dry conditions required easily damaged (punctures)|
Tar and Gravel Roof
Tar and gravel is other popular choice for low-slope roofing. One of the most attractive points for homeowners is the cost. Tar and gravel is cost-effective, at an average price of $4 per square foot. For a 2,000 sq ft home, the price of a tar and gravel roof averages $6,000.
This material provides great UV protection and is energy-efficient. In addition, it has a long lifespan with proper maintenance.
Gravel roofing is heavy, so additional supports are needed underneath. For this reason, installation is complex and requires a skilled professional. Even further, homeowners with tar and gravel roofs must perform regular maintenance and replace the materials as needed.
|Budget-friendly UV protection Long lifespan||Heavy (additional supports needed) Complex installation Regular maintenance required|
Single Ply Roof
Single-ply roofs are extremely durable and long-lasting. They are resistant to chemicals and require less maintenance than many other roofing material options.
However, there are some drawbacks to this type of roof, including its susceptibility to leaks. Although less maintenance is required, occasional cleaning and repairs can be difficult due to the slippery surface.
For an average home totaling 2,000 sq ft, the cost of a single-ply roof installation is $10,500. This can be as low as $7,000 or higher than $15,000 based on the size of the home.
|Durability Resistant to chemicals Long lifespan||Prone to leaks Difficult maintenance|
Modified Bitumen Roof
Modified bitumen is especially beneficial for those who live in cold climates, as it’s resistant to the weather. It also has a low carbon footprint and decreases energy bills.
This material is more affordable than many other options, averaging $5 per square foot. This can amount to $7,500 for a low to medium-sized home or up to $10,000 for larger properties.
|Cold weather resistance Low carbon footprint Decreased energy bills Affordable||Fire hazard Fragile material|
Cost Comparison of Popular Low-Slope Roof Materials
Cost is an important factor in the decision of which roofing material to use for your home. In addition to the previously mentioned factors, consider the average cost of each roofing type in the table below.
|Material||Cost (Per Square Foot)|
|Tar and Gravel||$4|
Metal is the most expensive roofing material, while rubber is the cheapest. The cost per square foot, along with the size of your home and the quality you are looking for, will help you make the best decision for your upcoming project.
What Type of Materials Should You Not Use For a Low Slope Roof
With all of the desirable options you can choose from for your roofing project, low-slope roofs are not compatible with asphalt for the following reasons.
Asphalt is a poor choice for a low-slope roof because it requires mechanical drainage for the best results. Since this type of roof is essentially flat, it does not support these requirements. If you use asphalt for your roof, the materials will be damaged due to inadequate water drainage.
Even though asphalt is great for other types of roofing just like (3-tab tiles), it’s better to stay away if you are looking at low-slope roofing.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.