Should I install a flat or sloped roof?

October 15, 2014

For homeowners, flat and sloped roofs have different advantages. In Canada you have to take into account the challenges posed by snow and rain.
What’s the difference between a flat or sloped roof? One is sloped and one is flat.But as a homeowner why would you want one or the other?

Should I install a flat or sloped roof?

“Weather” to prefer one or the other

If you live in Canada, you have to take weather into account. A flat roof can let water pool and snow and ice gather, increasing the chances of damaging leaks. Not good.

Sloped roofs are designed to let water, snow, and ice slide off, which is a desirable thing.

That said, flat roofs are not completely flat. They are designed with a slight slope to channel water to the gutter. But they certainly are at greater risk of water damage, especially if the water drainage system fails.

A sloped roof also tends to last longer than a flat one before needing replacement.

Which way the wind blows

On the other hand, the sloped roof doesn’t win all the battles with nature. Because it sticks up more, it is more susceptible to wind damage than a flat roof, which is always ducking out of the way.

Cheaper to build and easier to maintain

If you can get by the weather damage thing, a flat roof does have some other advantages. First, it takes up less area than a pitched roof, so it uses less material and therefore is cheaper to build. It’s also easier, and safer to walk on a flat roof and do maintenance. More than a few people have taken tumbles off high-pitched roofs.

The space thing

Flat roofs give you more space to play with. The lack of pitch means that attics aren’t made claustrophobic with sloping ceilings. (Office buildings usually have flat roofs so that they don’t lose a storey of high-priced space to a sloped roof.) Also, you can use the flat roof itself to create decks, gardens, and other living space, which will appeal to anyone with eco-friendly sensibilities.

If you want to go modern

Contemporary design favours flat or low-sloped roofs these days. So if you are looking for something stylish and modern, your curiosity shouldn’t be “peaked.”

More materials

Generally speaking, there are more roofing materials available for sloped roofs. These include asphalt shingles, wood shingles, concrete or clay tiles, metal roofs, and slate.

For a long time, the method of choice for constructing a flat roof used to be with gravel and tar. Builders alternated layers of the two materials in order to create a weatherproof finish. Today, many builders and renovators use a fibreglass or rubber-like membrane on top of flat roofs, which have proven far more effective and water-safe than previous methods of construction.

If you do go flat

If you do go with a flat roof, make sure you get a roofer or builder who knows what they are doing, increasing the chances you’ll have something weatherproof. Keep in mind many flat roof leaks happen because of a lack of regular inspections and maintenance, so be sure that you check your roof regularly —especially after snowfalls.

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