Pitched roof vs. Flat roof side by side.

As a commercial property owner, it can be difficult to decide between the many roofing options available when replacing an existing commercial roof. As more and more homeowners and commercial property owners opt to modernize the look and responsiveness of their roofing systems, an increasing number of properties end up converting their flat roofs to a pitched roof system.

Are you a commercial building owner who is in need of a cost-effective new roof for your property? Read on to learn about the differences between a flat roof vs. a pitched roof.

Flat Roof vs. Pitched Roof

You know that you need to replace your building’s roof, but you have a dilemma. What type of roof is right? Are there objective reasons why a pitched roof is better than a standard flat roof?

Well, making an educated decision starts with a clear understanding of the structural differences between a pitched roof and a flat roof.

A pitched roof, commonly referred to as a sloped roof, has a peak. While this option is usually a no-brainer for residential properties, it’s certainly less common for commercial and industrial properties across the United States.

These types of roofs come in many styles, with the simplest being a gable-ended roof (easily recognized by its triangular shape). There are more complex pitched roof designs, but no matter what, they all share the same main characteristic—rainwater flows off the sloping roof to the edges of the building.

Flat roofing, on the other hand, is the most common type of roof style for commercial buildings and is also a feature of modern architectural designs.

Despite what the name implies, there is still a slope to a flat roof (oftentimes referred to as a low-slope roof). That very slight roof pitch encourages rainfall to flow to the edge of the building, as opposed to ponding in low areas of the building.

Keep in mind, though, that the characteristics of both flat roofs and pitched roofs come with advantages and disadvantages, depending on your circumstances and climates over the lifespan of the roof. Let’s compare them to decide which one is the best roof for you.

Flat Roof Advantages

A key advantage to a flat roof system is that it’s quicker and less disruptive to install on an existing commercial building as compared to a pitched roof alternative.

There is less flat roofing material used and the construction itself is less complex, as opposed to pitched asphalt shingle roof tiles that take a long time to install. This means less disruption to normal business operations happening inside the building, fewer materials needed and a simpler design (which will ultimately be reflected in the price when compared to a pitched roof).

Together, shorter roof installation timelines and fewer disruption costs make this type of commercial roof an attractive option for many building owners.

Additionally, with a flat roof design, the rooftop space of the commercial building can be utilized for an outdoor area if it’s designed for that purpose. In recent decades, many buildings have begun incorporating a green roof or recreation area (in the right circumstances) by working with a commercial roofing contractor who is knowledgeable of the right construction methods.

Flat Roof Disadvantages

The life expectancy of a flat roof is often shorter than that of a pitched roof, and routine preventative maintenance should be frequent and thorough in order to maximize life expectancy and prevent failures. Otherwise, you will be looking at needing to facilitate a roof replacement again down the road.

Even with a slight slope to encourage water run-off, a flat roof is never going to be as effective at displacing water as a pitched roof.

Ponding, or standing water, can form on a flat roof, which can lead to roof leaks and damage. It’s important to design the flat roof with careful consideration of drainage systems and to maintain those systems diligently.

Along with that, flat roofs are typically less energy efficient than pitched roofs. It’s likely that with a flat roof you’ll lose more heat and, as a result, increase your energy bills.

Pitched Roof Advantages

Pitched roofs are a familiar sight, especially in the modern designs of residential construction jobs. The aesthetics are arguably more pleasing to the eye, and the advantages that this type of roof brings are not just superficial (which is why more and more commercial buildings lean toward this option).

The roof design offers a high degree of versatility and can (potentially) provide additional space inside the roof for storage or to house equipment such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.

Sloped roofs are typically more durable than flat roofs and are likely to last longer. (The pitched roof’s ability to remove rainwater and snow quickly and effectively from above your building is the main reason for this.) Water can be extremely damaging to a roof and the building itself, so displacing it quickly is a key component of longevity.

As a result of its durability, a pitched roof needs less maintenance than a low slope roof. Aside from replacing any storm-damaged shingles or metal sheeting and keeping gutters and downpipes clear of debris, you don’t often need to worry about roof repair or replacement.

Pitched Roof Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of a pitched roof is that installation costs are typically higher than that of a flat roof. The construction is more disruptive and takes longer too, which can lead to interruptions to business inside the property while roofers complete the project.

In other cases, a pitched roof might not be appropriate in some situations. Some modern buildings lend themselves to flat roofs and a pitched roof just wouldn’t look right.

New build situations don’t need to worry about disruption to daily business interactions or the appropriateness of the application. But, for many commercial property owners, the roof cost, repair costs and likelihood of disruption make a flat roof solution more acceptable.

Pitched Roof vs. Flat Roof: The Decision

In most cases, deciding between a pitched roof and a flat roofing system won’t depend on one factor alone.

For instance, the less costly (and easier) option for existing buildings would be a flat roof. So, if costs and time are key factors for your business, then a flat roof is the way to go. However, depending on the vision and scope, a sloped roof could be a better roofing option for your building. Weigh all the pros and cons including the financials and insurance and warranty information.

Whether you need a TPO flat roof or a pitched metal roof, work with a commercial roofing company that has the experience to guide you toward the best decision. To talk more about your roofing needs, contact TEMA Roofing, the trusted commercial roofing contractor throughout Akron and Youngstown, Ohio.