Roof Design Guide


Most homebuilders choose a roof design for residential construction from these six popular styles: gable, hip, gambrel, mansard, flat and shed. Mixing roof styles on a single house is common, and adds more interest to the architectural design. Climate and weather conditions often determine what type of roof design is most feasible--contact your local truss manufacturer for guidelines in your area.

Gable Roof

  • Not only the most widely used, but also the most cost efficient, is the gable roof. All the rafters (cut the same length) join in the center to form the peak (also known as the ridge). Two sides slope down from the peak on this A-frame roof. Excellent load bearing and drainage capabilities are features with this style. Roll roofing is the only type of roofing material that cannot be used on a gable roof.

Hip Roof

  • Hip roofs slope in four directions--the ends as well as the sides. The eave line forms on the same plane. Creating a protective overhang on all four sides of a house is the beauty of this style. Often built as an addition to a plain gable roof, the hip style adds design interest. Roof shingles are typically used on a hip roof.

Gambrel Roof

  • Imagine a barn-style roof, and you'll readily recognize a gambrel roof. Formed by rafters that are on two different slopes from the ridge to the eaves, it has a slope that flattens near the ridge. Gambrel roof attics provide great head room, and plenty of storage beneath the rafters. Roofing material choices are unlimited.

Mansard Roof

  • Primarily used in Victorian and French-style homes, mansard roofs have two different slopes. The upper part slopes steeply, and the lower part flattens out nearly vertical. Its roomy attic provides an extraordinary amount of usable interior space. Slate or shingles are a good choice for this roof.

Flat Roof

  • Technically not flat, a flat roof has a slight slope to provide for proper drainage. Flat roofs are built typically on contemporary homes and commercial buildings. It's constructed from built-up roofing material or roll roofing. Easiest, quickest and least expensive to build, the flat roof has a longevity of up to15 years. As might be expected, it is the one roof design that has the most problems with water leaks.

Shed Roof

  • Quick to build, and the simplest of roof designs, is the shed roof. It consists of a single pitch sloped in a single direction to the eave line. Several options for roofing material are available: shingle, roll roofing or metal.

Roof Combination and Pitch

  • Architects combine different roof styles on the same structure not only to break monotonous lines, but also for practical design usage. Intersecting the same, or different roof styles in an angle to each other can form a L-shape or U-shape floor plan.
    Pitches on a roof can also be designed to add architectural interest. For instance, a steep pitched roof provides a rich, dramatic appearance.

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Jon Oakley Image by, courtesy of Sharon Mollerus Image by, courtesy of Robb North Image by, courtesy of Eric Fleming Image by, courtesy of Jennifer Dickert Image by, courtesy of Dysturb.Net Image by, courtesy of pnwra
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