Choosing a roof for your house is one of the most important decisions you'll make. Selecting a roofing material goes beyond choosing a pleasing texture and color. You need to choose the roofing material that's right functionally. If the roof is steep, your options for roofing are nearly limitless. If your home has a shallow roof pitch, you'll find that your options are fewer. A 2/12 roof slope falls on the shallow end, which means you'll need to choose your roofing material carefully. Good roofing choices will make the difference between a watertight roof and one that quickly fails.
Roof Pitch Basics
A 2/12 roof slope means your roof has 2 inches of vertical drop for every 12 inches of horizontal distance. Simply put, it's a shallow roof. That means the roof doesn't shed water as easily as steeper roofs, which is why choosing the right type of roofing material is so important. A roof this shallow is likely to be found on a ranch house, a shed dormer or a porch. You won't be able to use slate, clay or concrete tiles, which are loose-fitting and require 4/12 pitch or greater. But you do have a few options that will keep your roof protected.
Asphalt Shingle Options
A pitch of 2/12 is the minimum pitch for shingles made of asphalt, so your roof just barely makes the cut-off for one of the most popular roofing material options. Resilient asphalt shingles lie much flatter to the substrate than slate, tile and concrete, which keeps water from being easily blown under them. Increasing their flatness and tightness, many asphalt shingles have a bead of roofing cement that seals them to the shingles underneath, forming a tighter seal. Read product specifications to be certain that the particular product you choose can be used on a 2/12 pitch.
Metal Roofing Installation
Metal roofing made of steel and copper are ideal for shallow-pitched roofs. In fact, a properly installed metal roof can be used on roofs as shallow as 1/2 inch/12 inches, which is almost flat. Long-lasting and old-fashioned, metal roofing is an excellent design choice if most of your house has steeper roof planes that are covered in traditional slate or tile.
A standing seam metal roof is the traditional, but more expensive, metal roofing option. Pre-crimped metal roofing panels are less expensive and also within the skill set of many reputable roofers. Metal roofing is slippery when wet, so consider asphalt shingles if you see a future need for walking on the roof.
Rolled Roofing Options
It may look like roofing felt or underlayment, but rolled roofing is a roof covering option that works on shallow roofs in place of shingles or metal roofing. You often find it on sheds, garages or utility structures, but you can use it on a home as well. The material is similar to asphalt shingles with a fiberglass-reinforced mat that's coated in minerals. But instead of coming in individual shingles, it comes in a roll that's usually about 36 inches wide. While this option is inexpensive, it also has a shorter lifespan, usually only five to 10 years.
Whatever your preferred style, choose a roofing material that's compatible with your low 2/12 roof pitch. The right type of material can make the difference in protecting your roof, preventing leaks and making it last.
Robert W. Lewis
Robert Lewis has been writing do-it-yourself and garden-related articles since 2000. He holds a B.A. in history from the University of Maryland and has training experience in finance, garden center retailing and teaching English as a second language. Lewis is an antiques dealer specializing in Chinese and Japanese export porcelain.