What Is a Gable Ceiling?

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A home with a pitched roof may allow the owner to create interior spaces with gable ceilings. Gable ceilings rise upward in a triangular shape creating a sense of space, grandeur and openness. However, some gable ceilings can also feel cramped and uncomfortable. A gable ceilings utilizes a peaked or triangular roof and may not be the best ceiling choice for every home.

Definition

The flat side of a triangular roofline is referred to as the gable. Gable ceilings are created when the builder or homeowner does not install a flat ceiling in a single-story home with a triangular roofline. Instead of the flat ceiling, the triangular pitch of the roof becomes the gable ceiling. Gable ceilings are also available in attic spaces of homes with triangular rooflines. However, gable ceilings may not be the only ceiling in the home. For instance, the builder may decide to leave the central area of a single-story home open to create a gable ceiling in a living area but install flat ceilings elsewhere in the structure.

Types

Gambrel rooflines can be used to create a gable ceiling. Gambrel roofs are found in Dutch Colonial homes and may also be referred to as a barn style or hip roof. Gambrel roofs create two angles in the roofline instead of one and are designed for use on two-story structures. The second angle sits low enough in the roofline to be used as a wall in an upstairs room, while the roof pitch — the angle that leads to the roof's ridge line — is used to create the gable interior. A French Mansard roof is another example of a gambrel roof and is very similar to a Dutch Colonial–style roof. Some architecture may use a traditional pitched roof and angle the exterior, upstairs walls to mimic the second angle of a gambrel roof. This variation is not a gambrel roof but a gable roof and can still provide the pitch required for a gable ceiling.

Design

Technically, any pitched or angled roof can be used to create some form of an angled ceiling — vaulted and cathedral ceilings are examples of angled ceiling lines that do not necessarily use the triangular roofline for definition. Not all gable ceilings reveal the roof structure or rafters — a gable ceiling can be sheathed in drywall to create a finished, flat ceiling line. A gable ceiling can also be enhanced to showcase rustic or rough-hewn beams or other decorative elements that match the home's style or design.

Disadvantages

Second-floor rooms that utilize gable ceilings may feel cramped and tight because pitched ceiling lines can reduce the usable square footage for standing and free movement. These rooms may be especially difficult for tall people, or adults in general, to maneuver easily. Managing heating and cooling of gable ceiling space may require help from a knowledgeable designer — high gable ceilings without a drywall finish may not be well insulated and may allow heat to escape easily from the home. Tall gable ceilings may be dramatic but less intimate.

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