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ROOFING INSPECTION & REPAIR
AMERICAN CEMWOOD ROOFING
BEST ROOFING PRACTICES
BUILT UP ROOFS
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CERTIFICATIONS for ROOFING CONTRACTORS
CHIMNEY FLASHING Mistakes & Leaks
COLD WEATHER ROOF TROUBLE
DECKS, ROOFTOP CONSTRUCTION
EPDM, RUBBER, PVC ROOFING
EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING on SHINGLES
FIRE RETARDANT PLYWOOD
FLASHING on BUILDINGS
FLASHING, ASPHALT SHINGLE VALLEYS
FLASHING, CHIMNEY Mistakes & Leaks
FLASHING, CLAY TILE ROOFS
FLASHING MEMBRANES PEEL & STICK
FLASHING for METAL ROOFS
FLASHING ROOF WALL DETAILS
FLASHING ROOF-WALL SNAFU
FLASHING SIDING DETAILS
FLASHING WALL DETAILS
FLASHING WINDOW DETAILS
FLASHING WOOD ROOF DETAILS
FLAT ROOF MOISTURE & CONDENSATION
Green House or Solarium Roof Leaks
HEAT TAPES & CABLES for ROOF ICE DAMS
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
MASONITE WOODRUF FIBERBOARD ROOFING
NOISE CONTROL for ROOFS
PLASTIC ROOFING TYPES
PVC, EPDM, RUBBER ROOFING
ROOF ARCHITECTURAL STYLES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF CLEANING RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF COLOR RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF DORMER TYPES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF INSPECTION SAFETY & LIMITS
ROOF JOB PROBLEMS, RESOLVING
ROOF LEAK DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
ROOF NOISE TRANSMISSION
ROOF REPLACEMENT SNAFUs
ROOFING FELT UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS
ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types
ROOFING TILE SHAPES & PROFILES
ROOFING UNDERLAYMENT BEST PRACTICES
SADDLE CONSTRUCTION at CHIMNEYS
SNOW GUARDS & SNOW BRAKES
STANDARDS for ROOFING
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
TEST LABS - ROOF SHINGLE
TREES & SHRUBS, TRIM OFF BUILDING
TRUSSES, Floor & Roof
UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS on ROOFS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALK-ON ROOF SURFACES
WARRANTIES for ROOF SHINGLES
WORKMANSHIP & ROOF DAMAGE
Roof area calculation & measurement methods: here we describe various methods for measuring all roof data: roof slope or pitch, rise, run, area, and other features. We include on-roof measurements, roof measurements or estimates that can be made from ground level, and several neat tricks using a folding ruler to measure roof angle or slope.
This article shows how simple measurements can give the roof area without having to walk on the roof surface. This article series gives clear examples just about every possible way to figure out any or all roof dimensions and measurements expressing the roof area, width, length, slope, rise, run, and unit rise in inches per foot.
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Making one or two simple straightline measurements from the ground along with clever use of a folding rule or other methods discussed in this article series can give us accurate measurements of the church roof dimensions, slope, and area.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Definition of Roof Dimensions
Roof rise (b): first we will obtain the total roof rise by counting siding courses. We measure siding width & then we count courses at the building gable end. If we start counting siding at a horizontal lilne even with the lower roof edge or eaves and count up to the ridge, we've got a close guess at the total roof rise.
The number of siding courses from the roof triangle base to the roof peak x siding course width = total roof rise = (b)
Roof length (c): Measure or step off building gable end width.
Roof width (a): This data allows us to calculate the roof triangle as we know two sides (b) and (c) of the three sides of a right triangle (the red lines in our photo at above left). Let (b) = the vertical rise in the roof and (c) = the roof length (building length + gable overhangs). The third side of the triangle, its hypotenuse or the sloping surface of the roof, or side is (a) which is calculated as follows:
Given a2 we use our calculator to take the square root and bingo, we have the length of the sloping side of the roof.
Given that we now know all of the lengths of our triangle we can easily obtain roof slope too if we need it.
Now finally to get the roof area, we just need one more figure, the length of the roof along the building eaves or ridge. From the ground we measure or step off building length (L).
The roof area (RA) is calculated easily:
We multiply the Roof Length (c) (which is the sum of building length plus the gable end overhangs of the roof) by the Roof Width of slope (a) that we just figured out above when we computed the hypotenuse of the roof triangle (that's why we needed the roof rise number).
We can use the TAN or tangent feature of a calculator as a trivial way to convert degrees of slope (or grade if we're building a sidewalk or road) into units of run per unit of rise. The Tangent of any angle expressed in degrees is nothing more than a ratio:
How to calculate rise per foot of run for this roof using the number from an angle level
I'll show that even if we screw up we can still come out ok finding the angle and then the rise and run of a roof using the angle finding level.
I read 81 deg. on my angle level. Now let's figure run for 12" of rise for an 81 degree slope - HOLD ON! something's crazy here. This is a low slope roof, how can it be sloping 81 degrees? Egad! that's nearly straight up! This is a good lesson in thinking for yourself - or performing a sanity check on calculations.
The answer is I was holding my angle level on the wrong scale. I could have made my photos over again holding the angle level the right way, but there's an easier trick:
81 degrees is just 9 degrees off of dead vertical (90 - 81 = 9). So really I could go just 9 degrees off of flat. As "flat" is 0 degrees of slope, flat+ 9 = 9. My roof actually slopes 9 degrees. Whew!
Find Tan 9 deg using a handy dandy calclator, or table such as the one I give
The inches of rise for 12-inches of run on a 9 deg low-slope roof is calculated as follows:
Set run to 12-inches because we're going to calculate the rise per foot of run.
Use simple algebra:
That makes sense: we travel about 75 inches horizontally for every 12 inches of vertical rise on this low slope 9 degree roof.
Calculate Unit Rise for the Roof Rise
To calculate total rise if I knew the total run (say we had made an on-roof measurement) we take the following steps:
Total Rise = (Total Run in Feet) x (Rise per Foot)
The Tan value for my 9 degree slope roof = Tan ( 9) = 0.1583
0.1583 = Rise / Run
Using a little high school algebra we can re-write the equation as
0.1583 x Run = Rise
If I want to know the rise per foot of run I calculate
0.1583 x 12 = 1.89 " of rise per foot of run.
Calculate Total Rise for the Roof
I measured the total horizontal run - my building width is 20 ft. + a total of 2 ft. of overhang at the eaves.
0.1583 x 22 = 3.5 ft.
My roof increases in height 3.5 ft. from the eaves to the high end (this is a shed roof).
I can check this result against the rise per foot we got above.
(22 ft. x 1.89" rise per foot) / 12 = 3.5 ft. (thank goodness)
For the Tangential Enthusiast - Usnig Inverse Tangent Function Tan-1
The inverse Tan-1 function can convert a Tan value back into degrees of roof slope.
Tan-1 (1.43) = 55 deg. and wonderfully, Tan-1 (1.00) = 45 deg.
Since Tan is a simple ratio of unit Rise / unit Run, we note that we can quickly convert a roof slope in degrees into the number of inches of rise per 12" of run as follows, using a 55 deg. slope as example:
Tan (55) = 1.43
Since 1.43 = rise / run we can use simple algebra to write:
1.43 x 12" run = 17.16" of rise per 12" of run
How to Measure or Estimate the Total Roof Area
With a decent 3/4" or 1" wide 30 ft. tape measure you can extend the tape out to catch the roof eaves without having to walk dangerously close to the roof edge. Also measure the roof edge or length.
Roofers measure or estimate the total roof area in square feet that is then converted to roofing squares - the unit of ordering of roofing material. One roofing "square" covers 100 sq.ft. of roof area. Convert roof area in square feet to squares of roofing material by dividing by 100.
Watch out: do not walk on roofs that are fragile (you will damage the surface, make leaks, and make people mad.) Do not try to access a roof that is unsafe for any reason: height, slope, condition, wet, slippery, windy, etc. In those conditions you'll be better off making a few simple measurements from the ground level to figure the roof areas involved.
Estimating the Roof Area for Complex Roofs
Watch out: also that roof measurement is only trivial for simple shed or gable roofs whose slopes are a simple rectangle. For hipped roofs, mansards, and intersecting gables some simple triangles need to be measured if you want an accurate estimate of roof area.
Accurate Calculation of the Area of an Individual Roof Slope from Available Measurements
To be more accurate, and in cases where we need to get the roof area while working from the ground we can get the actual or accurate area of an individual roof slope as follows
How to Use Horizontal or "Flat" Roof Projections as Rough Estimates of Roof Area for Inaccessible Roofs
Another simplistic approach used by some estimators is to ignore complex roof structure, just measuring the building's footprint and the roof slope - an approach that gets you into the right "ballpark" but will very seriously under-estimage the roof area for steep slope roofs.
Frankly, as we illustrate beginning at ROOF MEASUREMENTS, there are some easy and accurate alternatives that can give a good estimate of roof area while making measurements only from the ground. But to understand how some people use a flat or horizontal projection of a roof to guess at roof area, here is the procedure.
BF: Measure the building footprint or BF
EO: Measure or estimate the increase in footprint size given by the roof eaves overhang. (Tip: look at the drip line under the roof eaves and measure the distance from the outer edge of the drip line to the building exterior wall. This is EF.
GO: Measure or estimage the increase in footprint size given by the gable end overhangs. This is GO.
RF: If the eaves overhang and gable end overhang are the same on both front and back and left and right building ends we just add these up to obtain Roof Footprint or RF.
RA: Obtain the approximate roof slope to convert Roof Footprint to Roof Area - RA using
All of the Ways to Get the Roof Slope
You can calculate the roof slope if you know just a few measurements. Details are
You can estimate the roof slope from the ground by any of several methods described
How to convert the building footprint or roof "footprint" (building footprint + roof overhangs) to roof area
To convert the rectangular footprint of the building roof to roof area we need to increase the footprint area to account for the greater area covered by the sloping roof. Using any of the roof slope estimating or measuring methods described above, just this simple roof slope multipication chart:
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