Different Ways To Build a Roof


Build a roof in six basic ways: flat, shed, gable, hip, gambrel and mansard. The three most common roof styles are flat, gable and hip, while gambrel and mansard roofs incorporate many of the construction techniques applied in gable and hip roof construction. The final appearance of a roof is based on the framing method you use to construct it, and its style is one of the features that give your home its character.

Framing Components

  • The most common components used in roof framing include ridge boards, rafters and trusses. Generally, a ridge board is used when the roof has at least two slopes. It is the long horizontal board that is the highest framing member. The ridge board assists you in lining up the roof rafters. Rafters--common, end, hip, valley, jack and end rafters--are the structural components that provide support for the weight of the roof. All rafters are not required in the construction of all roofs. A truss (generally factory-made) is a roof support structure that can be used in placed of rafters.

    Sheath all roofs with adequate decking material--generally 5/8-inch plywood.

Flat Roofs

  • Flat roofs are common on commercial buildings and can be totally flat or have a slight pitch, which lets water drain from the roof. Flat roofs are found on some single-family homes, but in residential construction it is used mostly on two- or three-story buildings and sheds.

    A popular watertight covering for flat roofs is a rubber-like single-ply membrane called ethylene propylene diene monomer, or EPDM. Installing EPDM does not require special skills or equipment. Simply fit the membrane and apply a special adhesive to the underside of the membrane and on the deck. Seal the seams with a special tape.

Gable Roof

  • A gable roof is comprised of two sections, which crest in the middle. Make the two sides equal and slope down from the ridge board. The ridge board runs from one end of the house to the other. Usually, cut common rafters the same length and align them with the wall studs. Common rafters must also have the appropriate angle cuts to assure the proper fit.

    Shingles are widely chosen as a roofing material for gable roofs.The installation procedures are not difficult to follow and the material is inexpensive compared to other choices. You can also choose to install metal, or for new construction, if the roof is properly supported, you can install tile, slate or concrete shingles instead. Specialized tools, equipment and knowledge are required for proper installation.

Hip Roof

  • The hip roof has a ridge, but it does not extend the length of the house. Construct the hip roof with four sides that slope downward (which limits headroom). The construction techniques are more advanced due to the various roof framing components, which include board, common rafters, hip rafters, and jack rafters. Prepare the different rafters using a variety of carpentry cuts.

    Start with the common rafters and place them 16 inches on center. Mount the four hip rafters. Install the jack rafters last, in pairs. Like the gable roof, shingles are a popular covering. The same applies to the other roofing materials, such as tile or concrete.

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