Minimum Roof Pitch for Cedar Shingles

If it’s time for a new roof, you might be wondering where to begin. Traditionally, most residential homes use shingles – but even then, your choices are still seemingly limitless with varieties and colors available in asphalt, fibreglass, and cedar. Cedar is a popular choice amongst homeowners, for it’s rustic, natural look and incredible durability, breathability and protection against harsh Alberta weather. However, the pitch of your roof may determine the suitability of cedar shingles or cedar shakes for your home.

What Is a Roof Pitch?

Your roof pitch is a measure of the slant or angle of your home’s roof. The pitch is typically expressed as a ratio of the roof’s vertical rise to the horizontal distance of 12”, or how much the roof slope rises for every 12” it runs horizontally. The higher the first number, the steeper your roof is, and vice versa. For example, a roof pitch of 8:12 means that your roof rises 8” over a horizontal distance of 12”, making it a steep roof pitch. 

Your roof pitch will tell you how steep your slope is and which general category your roof falls in:

  • Low slope: A roof pitch of 1:12 to 4:12 indicates that your roof has a low slope. Living in Alberta where heavy snowfalls and moisture are abundant, you may require special materials or maintenance.
  • Medium slope: A pitch of 4:12 to 9:12 (sometimes expressed as 1:3 and 3:4 by reducing the fractions) indicated a medium slope. Typically, most residential homes are found in this range. 
  • Steep slope: Homes with a pitch greater than 9:12 (or 3:4) are considered steep or extra-sleep slopes, and may require additional considerations. 

The roof pitch is important because it determines how much snow, water, and debris will run off the roof, and can also impact the type of material that may be best suited for your roof.  

Cedar Roof Pitches

By code and in accordance with the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau specifications, in Canada, cedar shakes can be safely installed on a 4:12 (1:3) pitch and above. Cedar shingles may be installed on a 3:12 (1:4) pitch and above. When installing on low pitch ranges, using the properly treated shakes and shingles is required along with reduced exposures to create a stronger layering. This is because the natural cedar roofing systems are more susceptible to penetration than man-made asphalt and fibreglass shingles because they do not seal or lock.

If you are thinking of installing approved cedar shakes or shingles on a pitch between 3:12 and 4:12, it is recommended that you consult with local building code officials and install on solid sheathed roofs and with an approved membrane on the roof deck.

Trusted Cedar Roofing Professionals

If you are interested in learning more about installation or maintenance of cedar shingles or shakes, contact the professionals at A. Clark Roofing & Siding for a free, no-obligation quote. With over 60 years of experience installing cedar shingles and shakes on homes in Edmonton and Calgary, you can rely on them for your next roofing project.

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