If you have a new residential or commercial building project, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the type of roof to install. Typically, your builder will recommend a pitched or flat roof to crown your construction.
But how do you decide which of these two roofing options is right for your construction project?
Here, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of flat roof vs. pitched roof constructions to enable you to decide on the best roof covering for your building.
What Are Flat Roofs?
Flat roofs are roofs that are almost level in their entirety.
However, contrary to what most people think, flat roofs are not entirely flat; they are constructed with a slight pitch of up toa 10 degrees because this pitch enables rainwater to drain away without pooling.
Of the two types of roofs, flat roofs are cheaper to construct than their pitched counterparts, but they require more maintenance because their drainage is not as adequate. Moreover, these roofs need a waterproof seal that requires frequent maintenance to prevent hard-to-repair leaks and expensive repairs.
One of the main reasons to consider a flat roof can be that you’re looking for practical and inexpensive roofing options, especially if you live in an arid area. Flat roofs are also suitable for houses or buildings with contemporary designs, because the low-profile slope better fits the design.
Pros and Cons of Flat Roofs
- Flat roofs align with environmentally friendly green construction and make ideal canvases for eco-friendly green roofs. Plant your kitchen garden, keep beehives, or install solar panels on a flat roof to enhance the “green factor” of your building.
- Flat roofs are cost-effective, taking less time to construct and demanding fewer labor and construction costs than pitched roofs. These qualities make a flat roof an excellent option if you’re on a tight construction budget.
- Flat roofs feature a compact design, which makes them a suitable roofing solution for a contemporary house design. The flat roof also is an excellent choice for house extensions, garages, and outdoor sheds because the same robustness for those rooftops is not required as it is for roofs over other rooms in a home.
- Flat roofs lend themselves to dual-purpose roofing. They can easily accommodate lantern skylights that maximize the natural light going into a building, or they act as extra entertainment spaces in residential and commercial buildings that can hold bars, restaurants, parking, or even swimming pools.
- Flat roofs generally have shorter lifespans than their high-performance pitched counterparts, meaning roof replacement may be in the future. Even with the introduction of newer, sturdier roofing materials that can extend the lifespan of a flat roof to 30 to 40 years, pitched roofs still outperform flat roofs in the longevity stakes. However, the uses of hot rubber, EPDM, and three-layer elastomeric felt systems, as well as fully-bonded hot bitumen and asphalt layers, have helped improve the performance and longevity of flat roofs.
- Flat roofs require more maintenance than the pitched alternatives to ensure that they are performing to their fullest potential over the long term. For larger properties, costs could easily creep up with this roofing option.
- Flat roofs do not drain as well as pitched roofs and so are poor choices in areas that receive regular and heavy rainfall. However, the introduction of a green roof combined with effective drainage solutions could make a flat roof a viable option in this instance.
What Are Pitched Roofs?
Pitched roofs consist of at least two roofing slopes that rise to create a peak. Such roofs vary in design and cost, with some roofs featuring intricate and striking aesthetics. Because of the complex designs, pitch roof costs can be eight to 10 times those of flat roofs.
This roofing style is popular, especially in residential construction projects, because it has excellent durability, possesses waterproofing qualities, and provides added insulation for the rooms and spaces below. Pitched roofs may be more challenging to clean and inspect due to their intricate and sloped structures, but they have greater lifespans compared to those of flat roofs.
Pitched roofs also allow for extra space in the roof design that can be invaluable because the space can make your home more attractive to future buyers should you wish to sell.
Pros and Cons of Pitched Roofs
- If you need additional loft space, a pitched roof is the option to choose. A pitched roof design can create lots of cost-effective usable space, which can be outfitted as storage or as a bedroom, bathroom, playroom, or home office.
- Pitched roofs feature complex designs that are intricate, elegant, and beautiful, which makes them the number one choice for classic residential and commercial buildings. These roofs fit in with most neighborhood HOA requirements and add to the value and aesthetics of a building.
- The drainage on pitched roofs is superior to that of flat roofs. The angle enables rainwater to drain away quickly on the sloping roof, which prevents water pooling.
- The durability and longevity of pitched roofs are generally superior, and this has led many HOAs and property owners to choose this roofing option. The materials used to construct pitched roofs are also more durable and weatherproof than those used in the flat roofing market.
- The costs of pitched roofs are more than those of flat roofs, as pitched roofs require more construction materials, time, and labor to install. This expense comes from the fact that pitched roofs are more complex in design, which necessitates the additional materials and increased labor. However, all this hassle leaves you with a home addition that lasts longer, enhances the structure’s appearance, and offers outstanding rainwater drainage.
- In the construction of contemporary buildings, pitched roofs may not fit the desired architectural style and may take away from rather than add to the overall look of the building. In these cases, a flat roof makes more sense as it fits seamlessly into the contemporary, modern style of construction.
- Another critical problem with flat roofs is that their relative flatness means they’re not ideal when it comes to drainage. Rainwater and snow can quickly pool and build upon this type of roof, causing expensive leaks that cost more to repair than on pitched roofs.
Final Verdict – Pitched Roofs vs. Flat Roofs
Which roof you choose, pitched roof vs. flat roof, largely depends on the building you’re constructing. It also depends on the architectural style you favor, the initial capital you’re willing to put up, your commitment to performing regular and hands-on maintenance, and your location, as in whether you live in an arid or high-rainfall area.
Always consult your roofing expert to help you decide which type of roof installation would best suit your project. This important decision can have significant cost implications when it comes to the upkeep of your building.