The Best Roof Design for a Small Cabin


Use the roof space in a small cabin to enhance living space or storage. By making the roof more sharply pitched, for example, you can vault the ceiling space in a major way for the entire interior. Keep in mind that multiple roof lines and dormer windows are more labor intensive. It’s easier to stick to a budget if a roof shape is fairly simple and straightforward.

Go for the A-Frame Flexibility

  • The basic A-frame design provides great options. For example, if you install a sharply pitched roof, you can add a sleeping loft in a small cabin. Raising the first-floor ceilings to form tray ceilings is another option if the attic space is generous. Consider a 45-degree pitch for each angle of the A-frame to allow sufficient room for attic storage space. A steeper pitch, of course, gives more height to stand up in the attic, if the loft will have actual flooring.

Allow for Sizeable Overhangs

  • Give the roof generous overhangs. Shedding water away from the exterior side walls and foundation is important, so don’t skimp on the width of overhangs. If you ever decide to build on an addition, it’s easier to tie into roof space that extends beyond exterior side walls somewhat. Giving no overhang width at all invites rain damage to cabin walls and gives zero space for guttering. Without gutters, water shedding off the roof will eventually erode the foundation.

Install Dormer Windows as One Option

  • Dormers add lots of charm, if you want more attic light. If you plan to build a sleeping loft or small bedroom in the attic, it’s important to have windows that dormers can provide. You will need windows for more light and air on hot days, but you will also need windows for added protection in the event of fire. Always have an escape route in the loft, just in case fire should break out. Don’t forget that adding a large window in one end of the attic, with a second-story deck, is also a good idea in case of an emergency.

Look at the Financial Angle

  • Avoid a flat or skimpy roof. If your budget is tight, don’t get tempted to build a flat roof. It will eventually leak, and it may hurt the resale value of your cabin. A slightly tipped sloping roof from front to back might work on a very inexpensive structure built only for your own use. But, for a cabin you plan to eventually sell or you may refinance, build a well-designed A-shaped roof . The actual shape and materials of the roof determine a lot about the overall design of any house.

Go for Metal If You Burn Wood

  • Consider a metal covering on any cabin roof. A steel roof with a 50-year warranty is ideal. If the cabin has a wood-burning stove, a metal roof is always the best option. Sparks from the chimney can easily catch leaves on fire that have settled on the roof. If there is a gas-log fireplace and no trees close to the cabin, you can install asphalt shingles. Cedar shakes are an option, too, but they tend to support mold and moss growth within a short period of time.

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