What is roof pitch and how does it impact the roofing process?

Roof pitch is the name of the angle of a roof. If you’re thinking about a roofing project—such as skylights, an addition, or cutting in new rake boards—then it’s important to know what the number is. Builders may ask this to get started on a home remodel project.

How you calculate the roof pitch of your home is fairly simple, and it can be done from inside your attic or on top of your roof. You’ll need an 18- or 24-inch level, a tape measure, and a pencil.

In the attic, place the corner end of the level against the bottom of a roof rafter. Make sure it’s perfectly level
From that corner end, label the level at the 12-inch mark with a pencil.
3. Measure vertically from the 12-inch mark on the level straight up to the underside of the rafter just above it. Record that measurement.

Slope is the ratio of the vertical distance you recorded in step 3 with the horizontal distance you began with (12in). So, if there was a vertical distance between your level and the next rafter of 6in, your slope is 6:12, or “6 in 12”. And that’s it.

The primary reason that roof pitch exists in the first place is to redirect water and snow. If you live in an area known for heavy rain and snowfall, it might be best to consider a steeper slope to account for the cold weather.

As far as deciding on a roof design, there are a number of crucial, yet basic reasons why the pitch factors into your decision process. The following are just some examples:

The type of materials to be used (such as composition, shakes, or tile, for instance)
Walkability on the roof
Proportions to the building


Low slopes. They can be constructed easily at a more expensive cost, but then you can’t use asphalt shingles for low-pitched roof design. These types of roofs are expensive, demand high-end materials, and require a regular maintenance visit.

Conventional. These are still fairly easy to walk on, and is a good option for those looking to add a shed, a garage, or a general room area.

Steep slope. These pitch types deters more of the harshest climates, as the angle deters rain and snow from damaging your house. They are efficient and stable, lasting you years of quality roofs.

Determining your roof slope can change the look of your home dramatically, whether your project is big or small. It’s also important to know your roof slope, so you can get started nailing down the specifics of the project with your builder.

Any questions? Please let us know by contacting us, or commenting. We are experts in the home roofing business, and we hope that we can add our experience and expertise to your project.


What is a Cool Roof?

What Is A Cool Roof — And How Do I Get One?

There’s a term going around that you may have heard: heat island effect. The phrase refers to the disparity between temperatures in cities and those of the surrounding rural areas.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cities with 1 million or more people can be up to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than their surroundings. At night, the difference is even more star: up to 22 degrees Fahrenheit warmer!

“Heat islands can affect communities,” the EPA writes, “by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water pollution.”

So what can we city dwellers do to deal with the heat island effect?

The answer is a term you may not have heard too much about: cool roofs.

Cool Roofs Defined
Cool roofs aren’t necessarily your hipster neighbor’s turquoise adobe tiles that catch your eye as you drive by. (However, it is true that a chic roof can also be very cool.)

No, what we’re talking about here are roofs — including turquoise adobe tiles! — that control the temperature of buildings and entire neighborhoods.

How? With innovative technology that reflects the sun’s heat and prevents heat absorption within the building itself.

Ultimately, this combination of heat reflection and heat-absorption prevention creates a more comfortable indoor environment. This in turn leads naturally to lower energy bills and a chilling effect on heat islands overall.

There are other proven benefits of cool roofs, including:

* Reduced maintenance costs
* Reduced air pollutant emissions
* Improved air quality
* Reduced energy use
* Increased utility rebates, if and where available

How Do Cool Roofs Work?
When it comes to calculating just how cool a roof is, there are two major factors that we must consider: solar reflectance and thermal emittance.

Solar reflectivity is measured on a scale from 0% to 100%. The difference between a cool roof and conventional roofing materials is overwhelming. Many cool roofs reflect more than 65% of solar energy away from the building. Conventional materials, on the other hand, only reflect about 5% to 15% away.

Thermal emittance is a roof’s capability to release absorbed heat. The higher a roof’s thermal emittance, the less heat is retained within the roof itself and the building below. Like solar reflectivity, thermal emittance is also rated on a scale from 0% to 100%. Cool roofs have been found to emit a drastically larger amount of heat than conventional roofing materials.

When combined, these two values provide an overall Solar Reflectance Index (SRI). This number provides a representation of how cool your roof is. SRI is an extremely important statistic. It helps determine how well a particular roofing material and that material’s color work on rooftops.

Types of Cool Roofs
Just like the buildings they top, cool roofs come in all different shapes and sizes. Deciphering which techniques and materials are most efficient depends on the type of building and, more importantly, the slope of the building’s roof. Techniques used in low-sloped roofs (roofs with slight inclines) are typically associated with commercial and industrial buildings.

Here are three common techniques for cool roofs:

1. A common technique for low-sloped roofs is creating a coated roof, which is when you coat just about any roof in a paint-like finish. This not only increases SRI but also improves the roof’s durability. Coating can be done to just about any properly prepared conventional roofing surface, and it’s not just white paint; it’s pigmented in a variety of materials and colors in order to perform unique cooling technologies, including ceramic nano technology.

2. Foam roofs have been very popular for decades, and they work great for insulating a building’s interior while also having a very high thermal emittance. The foam is usually made from two different liquid chemicals that combine to form a very lightweight, flexible roofing material that can go on most rooftops while reducing environmental externalities. This foam must have a coating on it in order to perform as a waterproof system. It isn’t a popular system for Oregon, though, due to our short window of summer.

3. Built-up roofing systems (BUR Systems) are a more complex type of low-sloped cool roofing material, and that’s because these roofs require multiple layers. These include a base sheet, a varying form of fiberglass reinforcement layer, and also a granulated protective top surface layer. This type of roof can be made from a variety of materials. One method is to put reflective materials into hot tar to increase solar reflectivity, such as reflective ceramic granulated cap sheets. Built-up roofs are sometimes referred to as tar and gravel roofs. They are converted to cool roofs by using reflective marble chips or gray slag rather than dark gravel. A modified bitumen (mod-bit) is a roofing system that is similar to a BUR system in that it uses asphalt to contain both cold and warm temperatures. These roofs also tend to be more elastic than the typical BUR systems due to the blend of rubber and asphalt.

If your low-sloped roof seems to need an extensive amount of repairs, then a single-ply membrane may be a good cool roof option. These are flexible, plastic polymer sheets, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material, and they make for a very high-quality cool roof. For the most part, these roofs are white, but several color options are available to accommodate aesthetic preferences.

Steep-sloped roofs are more common for residential homes, and the main materials used for steep-sloped cool roofs include metal roofing, tiles, asphalt shingles, and shakes. However, there are over 3,000 Energy Star-rated cool roofing materials that can be used for roofs with steep slopes.

Asphalt shingles are probably the most common form of rooftop. We’re all probably accustomed to seeing them everywhere. However, the problem with asphalt shingles is that their SRI is very low. Even white shingles only have a 30% solar reflectivity. (Other colors are much worse.) The reason why we see so many roofs with asphalt shingles: They’re cheap and easy to install.

In recent years, more and more people have been making the shift to metal roofs. These are extremely efficient — with a solar reflectivity of over 70%! Metal roofs are also very durable, lightweight, and can withstand even the toughest weather.

Other Examples of Reflective Coatings
There are many different kinds of reflective coatings, including white roof coatings, which have a solar reflectivity of 70% to 80%. One is silicon coating, which can also withstand ponding water, unlike latex coatings.

Aluminum roof coatings are also very efficient and can exceed a 70% solar reflectivity with some of the more premium brands. (Even better, indoor temperatures can also be reduced as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit!)

Tiles, such as your chic neighbor’s flashy turquoise adobe tiles, can also be extremely efficient. They have an SRI of over 50% and a thermal emittance of around 86%. Tiles are predominantly made of clay, but concrete tiles have also become popular in recent years given that they are a little more durable in more extreme climates.

Pacific West Roofing
There is no denying that heat islands are a tangible part of urban living. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about this complex environmental externality. Cool roofs may just be the answer.

A traditional dark roof can reach temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when exposed to the summer sun. However, a cool roof under similar weather conditions can stay more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit cooler.

Cool roofs can extend the life of your roof and reduce thermal shock. It also helps un-air-conditioned rooms, such as garages, stay cooler. Finally, communities that make a concerted effort to convert to cool roofs can improve their town’s air quality.

Cool roofs are ideal for warm or hot climates. For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, we also have to consider our cold and damp climate. The moisture from condensation may result in eventual material degradation. It’s possible that cool roofs are more susceptible to accumulating moisture than similarly designed dark roofs. Portland is much more successful with darker roofs due to our location on the planet’s 45th parallel because we heat more months than we cool.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon, area, Pacific West Roofing can help guide you on your path to your own cool roof.

Questions? Pacific West Roofing has the answer. Get in touch today!

Danger signs of an unstable tree

Falling trees: Know the danger signs of an unstable tree

Trees are excellent additions to any home, but they can cause major damage to your roof and property as a whole if they fall. With the rainy season well on its way in the Pacific Northwest, now is the time to take a look at the danger signs of potentially falling trees and what to do if you think your tree is unstable. The best defense to falling trees is prevention.

Construction stress: From digging up utility lines to adding paved paths on your property, construction can place deadly stress on trees. Common signs of construction stress are wilted leaves, premature autumn colors, drooping branches and flowering out of season. To avoid harming your trees, set up a perimeter around the tree so that its root system will not be damaged by equipment and construction materials.
Leaning to one side: Most trees don’t grow as straight as an arrow, so a little lean is perfectly normal. However, if your tree is leaning uncomfortably one way and shows danger of falling onto your roof, look for these common signs of toppling over: Exposed roots at the tree’s base and cracked soil on the side opposite the lean are serious signs that the tree may fall over sooner rather than later. If this is a weight distribution problem, prune the branches to even out the weight of the tree to balance it out.
Multiple trunks: If you have a tree with U-shaped multiple trunks, be sure to inspect for deep cracks and other signs of weakness. Mature trees are most at risk for splitting down the middle during heavy rains and stormy weather. To prevent the tree’s splitting, consider hiring a certified arborist who can attach cables between trunks and braces to strengthen their bonds.
The best offense is a good defense when it comes to protecting your roof from falling trees. Take the time to inspect trees on your property and mark ones that match some of the above warning signs. Don’t be afraid to remove unstable trees, though you should call an arborist before attempting to fell the tree yourself.

The roof is a protector of your home. So, make sure your trees are ready to withstand the stormy weather. Pacific West Roofing has been installing and maintaining quality roofing products throughout Portland, Oregon and the surrounding areas since 1980. If you’re looking for a Portland roofing contractor, let us show you what we can do to keep you and your loved ones protected at home.

Portland Residential Roofing Services - Pacific West Roofing

The Best Roof Types for the Pacific Northwest

Here in the Pacific Northwest we get quite a bit of rain and wind, so it’s important to have a roof that drains well and can handle the excessive moisture.

While the style of your roof (gable or hipped) also plays a part in how it will stand up to the Portland climate, the material you choose to build your roof with is the biggest factor. Below we’ll go over the roofing materials that work best for homes in Portland and other areas in the Northwest.

Also known as asphalt shingles, composition shingles are the most popular choice in just about every region because of their low cost and longevity. They are particularly suited for the Pacific Northwest because of their resistance to harsh weather— like wind, snow, rain, and hail. But, they are still porous, which makes them susceptible to mold and mildew growth. Since composition shingles are so popular, it is easy to find materials for maintenance and repairs. Ask us about special treatments to make your asphalt shingles less absorbent and more resistant to mold growth.

Cedar has been used on roofs for decades in the Pacific Northwest, mainly because the region has such an abundant supply (mainly from Canada). Cedar has been thought to improve the overall aesthetic value of a house, which also increases its property value. However, cedar is also more expensive and needs more maintenance than other types of roofing materials. The main threats to cedar roofs are parasitic growth, such as lichen, moss, and mold that will undermine its strength. Over the years, a great deal of research has gone into finding a solution to this problem, and products have been developed to protect against these invaders. This makes cedar much more viable and less of a hassle to maintain.

Metal roofing materials are extremely water-resistant and have recently made remarkable advancements in the style department. Metal panels and shingles are now available in attractive styles and colors, and even come designed to mimic other materials, such as cedar shake or slate. While the lifespan of a metal roof will vary by the manufacturer and specialized coating, a properly installed metal roof can last up to 50 years. Ask any other roofing company in the area and they’ll tell you that if you are willing to consider it, a metal roof is an excellent choice for our rainy and windy climate.

You don’t see too many tile roofs around here, but they’ve been catching on over the past few decades. The main advantage of clay tiles is their extreme durability, but they are much heavier and more expensive than other materials. They are not a great choice for a roof in the Pacific Northwest because they are extremely vulnerable to problems that arise from a damp climate. When made correctly, clay tiles have the potential to last for more than a century. Concrete tiles are slightly less expensive, although just as heavy and won’t last as long. However, both clay and concrete tiles will increase the curb appeal and property value of a home as they are available in quite a few designs like flat, ribbed, or even scalloped.

This material looks very unique and is lovely, coming in colors like gray, red, black, green, and purple. It’s durable, fire resistant, and can be recycled. It is expensive and very heavy, which requires extra framing. It can last 50 years at least and has been known to last as long as long as 100 years with the proper underlayment. Colonial or European-style homes commonly have slate roofs.

Have questions about a roof installation of replacement? Call Pacific West Roofing at (503) 635-8706 today! We’d be more than happy to discuss your project and provide a free estimate.*

Portland Residential Roofing Services - Pacific West Roofing

Pros and Cons of a Flat Roof

Flat roofs are becoming a popular choice for homeowners and developers building new homes because of their unique look and more modern aesthetics. Flat roofs, as the name suggests, is laid horizontally on the top of a building, but may have a slight slope. Asphalt and torch on flat roofs are usually the most common types of materials used in flat roofing projects and there are several pros and cons to take into consideration before you make the decision that this is the right type of roof for you.

#1: Maintenance

Flat roofs require more maintenance than traditional pitched roofs because water will collect over time. Pitched roofs will drain the water away, but flat roofs do not have this ability, so standing water and debris will generally accumulate, especially when the weather is rainy or windy.

#2: Cost

Flat roofs are generally more expensive than traditional roofs because they are more components to install such as vapor retarders, insulation and a cover board to make it class A fire-rated. Installers can access the roof better, which makes the job go a little faster, and they do not need the engineered trusses that other pitched roofs will need.

#3: Space

Flat roofs make room for more space inside the home. Homes with drastic or extreme angles can reduce the amount of livable space. With flat roofs, you can instantly add more space, including a fun entertaining space such as a rooftop deck or patio that will wow your guests time and time again.

#4: Lifespan

Flat asphalt roofs generally have a lower lifespan because of the water exposure they have. Usually flat roofs can last up to 15 years, whereas asphalt, traditional shingled roofs, or metal roofs can last decades.

Not sure if a flat roof is right for your home and its specific layout? Contact our team of professionals at Pacific West Roofing to get information on what roof will work for you!


How Long Does a Shingle Roof Last?

Most typical shingles today last about 17 to 19 years. Of course, this depends on how well you keep it clean and if you have full Southern exposure unblocked by trees on a low pitch such as 4/12 which is a typical ranch house roof pitch. Leaving moss and debris on the roof can prematurely age the roof by pulling the granules off allowing moisture to attack surfaces on the shingle that have never been exposed to moisture before. Moss also allows one or two wick under the tabs up to the nails where they can potentially leak. Tree debris should be blown off at least once a year if not more depending on the level of trees surrounding your house. Rinsing roofs with the pressure washer is fine as long as you know what you’re doing and do not put the tip to close to the roof which will wash many of the granules off. If you use a wide tip sprayer and use it as a water broom which is how we do it, all you’re doing is rinsing debris off the shingle then you can treat it with a Moss killer and Moss proofing product on an annual basis to keep the moss from growing.

Ventilation is the second concern that we have with keeping the life of the roof at its optimum point. Without proper ventilation, the plywood in the attic can tend to grow mold due to stagnant air in the winter months and then followed by summer months of heat that cannot escape the attic which the laminates the plywood causing the glue to fail. Moisture and heat are the two biggest plywood roof killers in the Northwest. If we minimize them both, we will extend the life of the roof plywood and the roofing material to its maximum potential.

The “lifetime” roof is really a misnomer because lifetime has been determined in the courts as 10 years. The term lifetime has been abused by certain manufacturers who decided to drag every manufacturer to the bottom of the barrel and roof-algae-stains every shingle to have a lifetime warranty which again, doesn’t mean much. So if you have the lightest architectural weighted shingle and it has a lifetime warranty you can bank on 17 to 19 years depending on your maintenance schedule. The best shingle on the market today are SBS modified rubber shingles which are very competitive with standard asphalt shingles but they will last 50% longer because they will hardly ever lose the granule because of the sticky SBS rubber that is in the asphalt. The SBS also allows the shingle to move over time and has a much higher UV resistance than standard asphalt.

This is what we promote and this is what we do on our own homes. Ready to get your project started? Contact our team at Pacific West Roofing today!


7 Tips To Maintain Your Roof

7 Tips To Maintain Your Roof

Proper roof maintenance requires regular inspections. Seasonal or yearly checkups will lengthen the life of your roofing materials, preventing leaks that lead to damage, costly repairs, and — horrors! — the necessity for a complete roof replacement.

We decided to put together a quick list of roof maintenance tips that will alert you to any problems and help extend the life of your roof.

Roofs are designed to weather (literally) all kinds of storms, but there is going to be some wear and tear. So be sure your roof is ready for the next big storm by following these helpful tips on roof protection.

If you have any questions about roofing repair, damaged shingles, roofing home improvements, or your roof system in general, please call Pacific West Roofing. We’re happy to guide you through the best solutions for you and your home.

1. Inspect Your Shingles
Do yearly checks on your roof shingles — especially after the wild weather months. But remember: It’s not just wind and wet that can damage your roof. Ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays can also wreak havoc over time. So be sure to examine your shingles as a regular part of your roof inspections to ensure they’re still installed properly and functioning as they should.

2. Trim Branches
If you have trees with overhanging branches, have them trimmed before the winter sets in. Heavy snow, wind, ice and other natural phenomena can whip branches around or pull them from the tree completely, causing damage to the root and the structures on top of it.

3. Unclog Gutters
Many of us are familiar with the problems associated with clogged gutters, which can include bubbling wall paint and rotting wood. But clogged gutters can overflow with so many leaves, bugs, and debris that the rain washes up instead of down. Over time, the water can damage the roof and the support beams that hold it aloft. You can imagine the kind of problems that will cause: the expensive kind. Clean your gutters and clean outs heading into the spring and fall seasons.

4. Monitor Moss
Although moss adds an element of color and a magical forest look to your roof, the damage it causes is no fairy tale. Left to grow unhindered, moss will damage roofs of all kinds — including asphalt, wood, and concrete. Here’s what happens: Moss grows between shingles. Over time, it will bulk up and actually lift the shingles away from the roof, meaning water can get inside. Plus, the moss itself holds water. Leaks and wood rot usually follow not far behind. You’ll have to scrub the moss away (or hire someone to do it) to prevent damage. So keep a close eye for moss! We recommend that zinc sulphate granules be sprinkled on the roof systematically and seasonally.

5. Insulate/Ventilate
A roof that’s properly and comprehensively insulated and ventilated is less likely to be at the mercy of excess moisture, which can lead to rot. Have your attic inspected to verify that you have the right — and the right amount — of insulation. Ventilation is especially important. This is an area of concern that most homeowners are usually unaware of, and PWR makes it a point to remind our customers just how important it is. A lot of times, they’re surprised to learn that an attic can “sweat.” How? Warm air will rise, contact the cold, inside plywood of the roof and create condensation, which inevitably leads to mold growth and rotting plywood. Make sure vents are allowing for the proper amount of air circulation. Properly insulated roofs can also help prevent ice dams. (See below.) Conversely, an improperly ventilated roof will make your home even hotter in the summer. If your attic doesn’t have enough balanced air flow, that hot air has nowhere to go, and it’s going to get hot in there with the sun beating relentlessly down on the roof during the summer. Properly ventilated roofs will also save you money on your electric bill since your AC unit won’t have to work as hard to keep the house cool.

6. Prevent Ice Dams
Speaking of which, roofs are susceptible to ice dams after heavy snowfall. Warm air in the attic causes the roof itself to warm up, melting the snow. Those trickly rivulets of water then refreeze when they reach colder portions of the roof and — voila! — ice dams. Next thing you know, additional meltwater gets trapped and starts to seep through the roof, staining ceilings and peeling paint. To prevent ice dams, go back and recheck your insulation and ventilation to make sure that your attic stays cool enough in the winter to keep ice dams from forming in the first place. As we move into the cooler fall and winter months, it’s really important to work to prevent ice dams.

7. Caulk the Flashings
Flashings are those strips of metal (usually aluminum, galvanized metal, or lead) that run along roof edges or joints. Flashing is necessary to divert water or to keep water out of tricky areas that shingles can’t cover, such as roof penetrations where bathroom and kitchen pipes/vents extend through the surface of the roof. Flashing is also used near walls, skylights, and chimneys, and valleys. Depending on how they were installed, flashing can rust, crack, lift, or separate, meaning that a vital piece of roof protection is no longer functioning properly. Consider sealing the flashing with caulk at the places where it has become unstuck. At Pacific West Roofing, we prefer lead pipe flashings because it lasts for decades with little to no maintenance, contains no rubber that will deteriorate in the sun over time, and makes it less likely that you’ll have to caulk and recaulk those problem areas of your roof’s flashing.

Pacific West Roofing
Pacific West Roofing has been in business for almost 40 years. That means we’ve seen it all — and fixed it all! Check out our list of roofing services for residential and commercial properties in the Portland metro area. And then request a quote or give us a call!

We look forward to serving you — and becoming your Portland roofing contractor for life!


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