If you are building a new house or commercial building, you have options for your roof. There are flat roofs and pitched roofs.

  • Flat Roof: A flat roof lays horizontally but is not flat. It has a slight slope to drain toward one edge, so it doesn’t pool in the middle. Most commercial buildings use this type of roof.
  • Pitched Roofs: A pitched roof is sloped with a peak, allowing water to drain towards the edges. It is typically found in residential homes.

These roofs have specific uses, but you see modern homes with flat roofs and commercial builds that occasionally use a pitched roof. Now let’s dig deeper into the differences between a flat roof and a pitched roof.

Flat Roof

Let’s start with cost. Depending on the materials, a typical flat roof is cheaper to install because it uses less building material than a pitched roof. It is also a simpler build and, therefore, faster install with less labour. This is one of the reasons that commercial buildings use this type of roof.

A flat roof will last for decades, making it even more economical and efficient. When you need to do repairs, it’s safer for workers because there is no maneuvering on a slope. You can contact a flat roofing company and quickly get the maintenance work done.

A flat roof gives you options for using it as an outdoor patio or garden. It is also a stable, flat surface for mounting HVAC units for hotels and businesses. There may be city bylaws restricting building heights or obstructing views, making a flat roof take full advantage of usable space in a structure.

Drainage systems on a flat roof are optimal for recycling water for indoor fountains or rooftop gardens. This is a great way to efficiently use snow and rainwater.

Installing a flat roof on the house gives it a great, modern feel that is very trendy right now. You will be very happy with a flat roof installation when taken care of properly.

There are several styles of flat roofs including:

  • BUR: A Built-Up Roof is your typical tar and gravel material where there are multiple, waterproof layers of roofing felt built up with hot asphalt and aggregate.
  • Modified Bitumen: This is a single-ply rolled roof with a durable wear surface torched on to activate the adhesive. Newer peel and stick systems are also used.
  • EPDM: Rubber membranes (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) are very durable and are resistant to damaging sunlight. They are typically installed with adhesive, fasteners or ballasted with stone.

Pitched Roof

A pitched roof is designed with peaks that allow water to flow off easily. There are more complicated designs with multiple slopes and valleys and gable ends and dormers, but they all have a degree of pitch to them. Most homes and some commercial buildings have pitched roofs. While building a pitched roof takes longer, trusses are usually purchased from a manufacturer and installed on the building site.

There are many options for the type of roof material, including asphalt, flat tiles, shingles and metal, and they all have their advantages and aesthetic appeal. You may also get a longer life out of a pitched roof, but it is all dependent on the type of system used. Flat roofs use several membranes, making them durable, outlasting typical pitched roofing material.

A sloped roof will take less beating from the rain and snow, reducing maintenance costs. They are, however, more susceptible to wind damage because of the slope.

As far as cost, your pitched roof is more expensive because of the extra material required and labour to install it, but the repair cost will likely be less expensive and balance that out.

The common types of pitched roofs are:

  • Gable: A gable roof is a triangle with the roof sitting on the outside walls and meeting in the middle at the peak. Slopes vary depending on what you want.
  • Clipped Gable: This is also called a bullnose, and it has the standard gable design with a bent tip at the ends of the roof. It is a nice architectural detail for a house.
  • Hip: Hip style of roof gives you four sloping sides that meet at a peak and can be customized for the look and feel you want.
  • Dutch Gable: The dutch gable combines a gabled and hip roof with a small gable or gablet on the top end of one or more sides of a hip roof.
  • Gambrel: Here is your classic barn-shaped roof where each side has two slopes; one gentle and one steep.
  • Mansard: A mansard combines a four-sided hip roof with double slopes.
  • Shed: A shed roof has one gable and is a “lean to” design.

There are many options and combinations of these roofs depending on the house layout and overall desired look.

These are the differences between a flat and a pitched roof. Consider both when building your residential, commercial buildings and see what system best works for you.