Understanding the Load Limits on Roofs

A roof is typically under a lot of stress. For it to remain operational and unimpaired, the residential or commercial roofing must be able to withstand both short-term and permanent loads. While the load limits support is dictated by its structural design, average roofs should be able to resist commonly foreseen loads.

load limits on roofs


  • Dead Loads. Simply put, the dead load of a roof refers to the weight of the roofing structure itself. For example, a traditional asphalt-shingled, wood-framed roof has a dead load of about 15 pounds per square foot. If a heavier roofing material like clay tiles is in place, the load will naturally increase.

  • Live Loads. The live load refers to the weight of nonpermanent items sitting on the roof. It can come from roof repair specialists working on the roof or the pieces of equipment they take onto the roof during the construction process. A traditional roof is often banked on supporting a live load of 20 pounds per square foot. This is in addition to the dead load that the structure must hold up.

  • Uplift Loads. When the wind blows against an exterior wall of a building, its energy scatters downward and upward along the wall. The roof must be able to withstand the uplift load that the upward motion of the wind will exert on it. A common uplift load limit shoulders a wind speed of roughly 90 miles per hour and anticipates a load of around 20 pounds per square foot.

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