Are Pitched or Flat Roofs Better For Vancouver Buildings?

Looking towards the skyline, Vancouver has a mixture of flat roofs and pitched roofs; both have their advantages and disadvantages. Commercial buildings generally have flat roofs while residential buildings have sloped, but that isn’t always the case.

This blog is going to break down the pros and cons of both pitched and flat roofs, so you can make the best decision based on the budget and the goals for the project.


Pitched Roof Pros

Pitched roofs are the traditional roofing solution for residential buildings in Vancouver. They are popular for a variety of reasons, including being more structurally stable than flat roofs, while allowing easy drainage for rain and snow. In addition, pitched roofs are great if you want an attic or crawl space for additional storage space.

Pitched Roof Cons

Many people like the traditional “home” look of a pitched roof and roof lines can be more easily designed to add appealing architectural features.

Price is a factor when it comes to any roof, and while maintenance might be less of an issue compared to a flat roof, the initial construction of a sloped roof can be costly. No matter whether you go with a flat or pitched roof, ensure that the roofing contractor comes with good recommendations and reviews.

It should also be noted that as pitched roof architecture becomes more complex, the extra labour and expertise to deal with complicated roof intersections must be accounted for in the budgeting of the roof. This helps avoid an inexperienced installer making catastrophic errors.

Building the actual slopes roof truss structure costs more than a flat roof, but the shingles themselves cost less than flat roofing materials.



Pitched Roof Maintenance

A homeowner or property manager should check the ceilings and attic regularly for water damage to head off any serious issues.

Clogged gutters can also make it easy for water to seep under the structure of a roof, creating more than just a few water stains. Most experts recommend cleaning gutters and drains twice a year, once in late spring, and again in early fall as part of regular building maintenance. However, if the building is in a high debris area with lots of trees and animals than more maintenance might be necessary.

Different materials will require different maintenance. For example, metal pitched roofs, if done properly, should be maintenance-free, but the type of skilled artisan installer who can complete this type of work has to have many years of training and doesn’t come cheap. Metal roofs should last around 50 years if done properly while torch on 20-35 and asphalt 15 to 30 years. However, if a metal roof is incorrectly installed, it can be costly and need maintenance and repairs as little as every 5-10 years.



Flat Roof Pros

It should be noted that no roof should ever be completely “flat”. The general term for a roof with a pitch of less than 2/12 (run/rise) is “flat” but in fact, all roofs should have some amount of pitch to meet building codes and ensure maximum lifespan of the membrane. The minimum recommended pitch for a low-slope roof is ¼ inch of rise.

A flat roof is also clean, straight, and gives a building a modern look, whether it’s commercial or residential. If a property manager does have a problem or need to get on the roof for some reason, it is easier and less dangerous to access than sloped roofs.



Flat Roof Cons

As already mentioned, flat roofing materials are more expensive because flat roofs need to be designed to be completely waterproof where pitched roofs are designed to shed water. As a result, a flat roof installer must have a careful eye for critical details and allow for a lesser margin of error than a pitch roofer. An incorrect installed flat roof can cause massive headaches at great expense for many years. As a result, it is imperative to select a flat roof contractor with the skills and knowledge to assemble and install a high-quality roof system.



Flat Roof Maintenance

Because debris collects more on flat roofs than on sloped roofs, it’s essential to keep up on regular maintenance. Fortunately, as mentioned, flat roofs are more accessible and safer to walk on than pitched roofs, making the chore of clearing debris more straightforward.

Another thing to watch out for is the weight of the roof. If too much snow and ice builds up on the roof during winter, the weight could become excessive and cause unnecessary strain. Flat roof snow removal should always be completed by a qualified roofer. A roofer knows which area to take care to avoid and proper shovelling techniques to avoid gouging the membrane.




For any questions about pitched or flat roofs and which is best for a particular building project, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

At Robinson Roofing and Sheet Metal, we employ a staff of trade certified journeyman with some of the most diverse skill sets in the industry to date. These journeymen are experts in commercial and residential roofing, waterproofing installation and maintenance, and we assure you first-class service for exceptional value.

You can also rest easy knowing that we are licensed, fully insured for liability and always in good standing with WorkSafeBC. Give us a call today to request a free quote.