Low Slope and Steep Slope Roofs: Pros and Cons of Each

Low slope and steep slope roofs

Most homeowners don’t have a flat roof and likewise, haven’t had much experience with what to expect. Commercial building owners may be more familiar with the travails of a flat roof, but there are advantages too. Here is the lowdown on each of these systems:

Low Slope Roofs

Low slope roofing can also be called flat roofing, as anything under a 3-inch rise over 12 inches is considered a flat roof. Some slope is necessary to drain rainwater properly.

However, this is an extremely low slope, and some rainwater does accumulate – as well as debris. Flat roofs are covered with a membrane, which is one continuous piece of material, rather than shingles like most steep slope roofs.

There are several systems that can be used on a flat roof:

  • EPDM single ply systems
  • Heat weld TPO (which stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin)
  • Hybrid single ply systems
  • Duro-Last pre-fabricated and field fabricated systems.

In addition, whatever the system in place, flat roofs need more inspections and maintenance than a pitched roof.

We offer a quick inspection perfect for good maintenance of a flat roof and recommend you have your building’s roof inspected twice yearly.

Advantages of Low Slope or Flat Roofs:

  • Flat roofs are less expensive and are made to cover less area – for a typical business – than a home.
  • Construction of flat roofs goes much more quickly.
  • Flat roofs are easier and safer to access.
  • The interior space of the top floor isn’t restricted due to roof pitch.
  • Flat roofs offer a more modern design than pitched roofs.
  • Flat roofing is often the right design for the space. Most commercial buildings are designed to have flat roofs with the intention of putting heating and cooling elements on the roof. They can be very useful for this purpose
  • A flat roof – over the right structure – can successfully be turned into a rooftop garden or a “green roof.”

Steep Slope Roofs

Steep slope roofs are found in commercial buildings and on most single-family homes. They are usually covered with asphalt shingles, metal roofing, tiles or cedar shakes.

The most common roofing material for pitched roofs in Michigan is asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles still offer a very high level of durability, a wide range of styles and the affordability most home and business owners are looking for.

Advantages of Steep Slope Roofs

The advantages of a steep slope or pitched roof are more commonly known:

  • Pitched roofs require less maintenance and last longer
  • Pitched roofs allow gravity to take care of water and snow, which keeps ice dams from forming
  • Less debris can form on top of a pitched roof
  • There are more style choices and design elements to a pitched roof
  • Pitched roofs can offer a bonus attic space, which is usable under the right conditions.


Whether you are a home or business owner, it’s always a good idea to know the ins and outs of the building you own. This includes your roof and how best to take care of it.

Your roof is your first line of defense. It tends to be the most neglected part of a building, but if you take care of it, any slope of roof should not leak and last a long time.

If you live in the Southeast Michigan area, please give us a call. We are here whenever you need us.

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