steep slope and low slope roofs

Steep Slope and Low Slope: Which Type of Roofing Material Should I Use on My Home?

When roofing your home, one of the critical decisions is selecting the suitable roofing material. However, your choice may not be solely based on aesthetics and budget; the slope of your roof should also influence it. Roof slopes can be broadly categorized into steep slopes and low slopes, and each type requires specific roofing materials to ensure durability and performance. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between steep slope and low slope roofs and guide you in choosing the most suitable roofing material for your home. We’ll also discuss the importance of hiring experienced roofing contractors and protecting your roof from damage.


Understanding Steep Slope and Low Slope Roofs

Before delving into the details of roofing materials, let’s clarify what we mean by roof slopes.

  • Steep Slope Roof: A steep roof has a pitch greater than 3:12, meaning for every 12 horizontal inches, the roof rises more than 3 vertical inches. These roofs are often characterized by their steeper angles and are commonly found on residential properties. Steep slope roofs are not only aesthetically pleasing but also offer better water drainage and ventilation.
  • Low Slope Roof: In contrast, a low slope roof has a pitch less than 3:12, meaning it rises less than 3 vertical inches for every 12 horizontal inches. Low-slope roofs are more common on commercial buildings but can also be used in residential applications. They provide a more contemporary look and often require different roofing materials and installation techniques.

Choosing the Right Roofing Material

Now that we understand the basic concepts of roof slopes let’s explore the most suitable roofing materials for each type:


Steep Slope Roofing Materials

  • Asphalt Shingles: Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice for steep slope roofs in the United States. They are available in various colors and styles, making them a versatile option. These shingles are durable, cost-effective, and easy to install. However, they may only be suitable for somewhat high-pitched roofs.
  • Metal Roofing: Metal roofing is another excellent option for steep slope roofs. It is long-lasting, highly resistant to extreme weather conditions, and offers outstanding energy efficiency. Metal roofs come in various materials like steel, aluminum, and copper and can mimic the appearance of traditional roofing materials, such as shingles or tiles.
  • Wood Shingles or Shakes: Wood shingles and shakes provide a natural, rustic look that many homeowners find appealing. They are eco-friendly and can last for decades if properly maintained. However, they may be more susceptible to fire and require regular upkeep.

Low Slope Roofing Materials

  • Built-Up Roofing (BUR): Built-up roofing, often called a “tar and gravel” roof, is a time-tested choice for low slope roofs. It consists of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing materials. BUR is known for its durability and resistance to weather and UV radiation. It’s commonly used on flat and low-slope commercial roofs.
  • Single-Ply Membrane: Single-ply membrane roofing includes materials like TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), and EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer). These lightweight, flexible sheets are easy to install and provide excellent waterproofing. They are commonly used in commercial and industrial roofing applications.
  • Modified Bitumen: Modified bitumen is an asphalt-based roofing material with added modifiers to enhance performance. It offers flexibility and weather resistance, making it suitable for low-slope roofs. It comes in rolls or heat-welded sheets to create a watertight seal.


The Role of Experienced Roofing Contractors

Selecting suitable roofing material is crucial, but it’s equally important to hire experienced roofing contractors for the installation or replacement of your roof. A skilled roofing contractor will ensure your chosen material is installed correctly, preventing leaks and other potential issues. When hiring a roofing contractor, consider the following:

  • Credentials: Verify that the contractor is licensed and insured. This protects you from liability in case of accidents or damages during the project.
  • References: Ask for references from previous clients to gauge the contractor’s work quality and reliability.
  • Written Estimates: Get detailed written estimates from multiple contractors to compare costs and understand what is included in the service.
  • Warranty: Inquire about the warranty provided for the roofing material and the installation. A reputable contractor should stand behind their work.
  • Local Experience: Choose a contractor with experience in your local area, as they are more familiar with the specific weather conditions and building codes in your region.
  • Safety Measures: Ensure the contractor follows safety protocols during the project to protect their crew and your property.


Protecting Your Roof from Damage

Roof damage can occur due to various factors, including severe weather, poor maintenance, and natural wear and tear. To safeguard your investment, follow these essential tips:

  • Regular Inspections: Schedule annual roof inspections to identify and address potential issues before they become significant problems. An experienced roof contractor can provide a thorough assessment of your roof’s condition.
  • Maintenance: Perform routine maintenance, such as cleaning gutters, removing debris, and trimming overhanging branches. These simple tasks can prevent clogs and water damage.
  • Repairs: Address any damage or leaks promptly to prevent further deterioration. Ignoring small issues can lead to costly repairs in the long run.
  • Snow Removal: In areas with heavy snowfall, remove snow from your roof to prevent excessive weight and the risk of collapse.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure your attic has proper ventilation to regulate temperature and humidity, reducing the risk of ice dam formation in colder climates.
  • Impact Resistance: Consider impact-resistant roofing materials if you live in an area prone to hail or falling debris. These materials can provide an extra layer of protection.

By taking these preventive measures and investing in quality roofing materials and professional installation, you can extend the lifespan of your roof and protect your home from costly damage.



In the roofing world, understanding the significance of roof slopes and choosing the right roofing material for your home is essential. Steep slope and low slope roofs require different materials to ensure optimal performance and durability. While asphalt shingles and metal roofing are popular for steep-slope roofs, built-up roofing, and single-ply membrane materials are ideal for low-slope roofs.


Moreover, the importance of hiring experienced roofing contractors cannot be overstated. A reputable contractor can distinguish between a long-lasting, secure roof and a potential headache of repairs and leaks.


Lastly, taking proactive steps to protect your roof from damage through regular inspections, maintenance, and timely repairs will save you money and headaches in the long run. Your roof is not only a protective barrier but also a significant investment in your home’s value and safety. Choose wisely, and ensure that your roof remains in excellent condition for years to come.


For more information on roofing materials, roof replacement, and roof damage protection, don’t hesitate to contact our roofing contractor experts at RSH Commercial Roofing Experts. We are committed to providing top-notch roofing solutions, and we’re here to help you make the best decisions for your home.

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