The gable refers to the triangular piece of side wall that is located underneath the peak of the roof. This wall section is always flanked by a pitched roof on each side that slightly overhangs the vertical surface. The pitch and length of each side of the gable are always equal.
Gables are very common building ends found in many types of residential houses, barns and small outlying buildings. They are found on simple four-sided buildings and on the ends of more complex architectural designs. A straightforward rectangular building with a gabled roof will have two ends with gables and two sides with a roof surface that continues in a straight line far down the building to the eaves.
Technically, the gable refers to the wall section, yet the presence of one or more gables determines the construction of the roof. Furthermore the gabled ends can occur not only on the sides, but also on the front of the building right above the main entrance. Buildings with high gabled roofs are not usually found in places prone to high winds.
Many variations are possible on the basic gable roof end. One of the most common is the gambrel, which can be found on many barns and stylish homes. Basically the simple straight roof pitch of the gable is replaced by angled roof sides, which create a roof with two distinct slopes.
A gambel roof describes the situation where the top section of roof shows a low pitch and the bottom section drops off sharply at a steep angle. Instead of a triangular shaped wall section under the peak, a gambrel wall will feature a five-sided polygon. Gambrel roofs are usually constructed with trusses, while a gabled roof can be put together with rafters.
Much like the gambrel roof, a gullwing roof features a roof face with two slopes. The main difference with a gullwing roof is that the the top pitch has a steep angle and the lower section has low pitch. Many tobacco barns have classic gullwing roofs and this style of construction is commonly found on one story houses in warmer climates where snow buildup is not a problem.
A Dutch gable actually combines features of both a gable and a hip roof; this produces a hybrid roof design which, unlike the gable-style roof, is stable in high wind. With this kind of roof, the gable functions as a small side wall, located near the peak just underneath the roof line. A large hip roof is constructed below the small gable. A simple four-sided building with Dutch gables will feature four connected sloping roof surfaces with two small gables located under the sides of the roof line above a roof hip.
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