We talk endlessly about roofing materials, colors, trends, and cost, but roof style is what really ties all of the pieces together and makes the roof. The roof style combines visual and structural elements to create the ultimate roof design to boost your curb appeal and reach your desired aesthetic. The roof style you choose can completely transform the exterior of your home. We’ll be going over dozens of roof styles loved by architects and builders alike.
When someone pictures a basic structure of a house, they probably think of an open gable roof. There are actually many different styles of gable roofs, but open being the most recognizable. An open gable roof, also called a pyramid roof, consists of two sloped sides coming to a point at the top of the pitch, with open triangular sides, and at least one gable. A gable is the triangular connection of a wall that brings the two slopes together. See photo for reference.
Pros of Open Gable Roofs
- They are simple to design and work with most new construction homes.
- They are super affordable due to their simple installation and minimal materials.
- The high pitched slope allows for easy water and snow drain off.
Cons of Open Gable Roofs
- During severe weather with strong winds they have the potential to be lifted or completely blown off.
- They are pretty common and won’t be the option if you’re looking for a unique design.
Very similar to the basic gable roof with the triangular extension on each end of the double-slope design, but with more emphasis on the triangle. It will have each end box gabled (closed off). Some designs can even look like a second house section on top of the main structure. You may find it on a Cape Cod style home, or any other home that has a gable style roof.
Pros of Box Gable Roofs
- A more unique design and structure than that of gable roofs.
- Easily install a window on either end of the building in the triangular end.
- Allow for more insulation to be installed.
Cons of Box Gable Roofs
- Susceptible to damage from strong winds like gable roofs.
- Can look bulky depending on the style of your home.
A hip roof is one in which all slopes of the roof angle down. They are similar to your basic gable, pitched roof but with the front and back, or sides, with a slope as well. To envision that, a square or rectangle-shaped house would have a hip roof that resembles a pyramid with the two sides and front and back all sloping downwards. You’ll often find hip roofs installed on french colonial-style homes or single-story ramblers. But, they would work on any number of types of homes.
Pros of Hip Roofs
- Compared to two-sided gable roofs, hip roofs are much more durable with their four sides.
- They are very stable against strong winds.
- Great for areas with heavy snow. The multiple slants allow for snowmelt to easily fall off and prevent any standing water on the roof.
Cons of Hip Roofs
- More costly than regular gable roofs.
- Can be a more complex installation process, requiring more advanced contracting work and more materials.
A gambrel roof is the type of roof you’ll see on a red barn. It has a pitched low slope angle on top that runs down to two panels that run down the side of the house creating a sort of four-sided structure. Kind of like a mansard, gambrels utilize a wide, low slope to make more head space in the structure. That’s often why they are used in barns, so that the hay loft can utilize the space for storage of bails and other farm equipment.
Pros of Gambrel Roofs
- They offer a classic, traditional look.
- Easy to install and very cost-effective.
- Add lots of extra space to an upper floor, attic, or barn loft.
- You can add windows into the design.
- Can work with many different roofing materials.
Cons of Gambrel Roofs
- Poor resistance to snow and water accumulation on its low or flat slope.
- May be susceptible to wind damage.
- Can have trouble ventilating.
- Custom fits can be complicated to put on any structure—it’s ideal to install during a new construction.
A mansard is actually a type of gambrel roof. A mansard roof, also called a french roof, is a four-sided style roof. Often an entire floor is fitted in a mansard roof, with dormer windows along the sides. Mansard roofs were most popular on large homes, buildings, or mansions built after 1850. Most common in second empire style buildings, the mansard roof was a way to add another living quarters without adding another actual story to the home’s structure.
Pros of Mansard Roofs
- They fully maximize space in attics and upper floors.
- Easily add-on more floors, balconies, or other additions.
- Beautiful aesthetic.
- Easily add larger windows into your upper floor or attic.
Cons of Mansard Roofs
- Expensive and complicated installation.
- Because of the rarity of mansard roofs it can be hard to find experienced contractors which can drive up costs of repairs.
- They can be quite high maintenance.
- The flat slope on top can lead to snow accumulation and standing water that causes leaks or collapse.
- The windows installed in the side slopes can be prone to leaks if not sealed properly.
A shed roof, unlike the rest we’ve described is only a single slope. You’ll commonly see them on barns, sheds, lean tos, cabins, or even some mid-century modern home designs. It’s a simple design, but effective for water and snow shed, hence the name. It can protect structures from standing water without the need for a full pitched roof.
Pros of Shed Roofs
- Roofers can complete installation of a shed roof with fewer materials, in less time, making it incredibly cost-effective.
- Works with many materials such as cedar shakes, metal panels or shingles, asphalt shingles, roll roofing, or even clay tiles.
- Highly prevents any standing water.
- Opportune design to install skylights.
Cons of Shed Roofs
- Only works for smaller structures, or basic homes—not ideal for large buildings
- Requires a good gutter system because it will handle more water during a rainstorm than a two-sloped roof.
Your classic A-frame style roof is yes, a steeply pitched roof that makes the shape of an “A”. They will often run all the way from the ground/foundation all the way to the point making for a super unique design. Cabins are one of the most common structures that will be built with an A-frame roof.
Pros of A-Frame Roofs
- Perfect for areas with very heavy snowfall—you’ll see winter cabins featuring this style often.
- High efficiency with cooling systems in hot climates as the entire home is essentially the lower, cooler level.
- Work well with tiny homes that continue to trend upwards.
Cons of A-Frame Roofs
- If not well-insulated the energy efficiency can be the opposite, especially in colder climates.
- The slanted interior of your home can make it difficult to hang things or decorate, requiring unique shelving and furniture arrangements.
A bonnet roof is very similar to a hip roof, but the ends extend much further out from the sides of the house. This allows for a wrap around porch or covered patio.
Pros of Bonnet Roof
- Work well at protecting against strong winds.
- Keeps your house and porches cool from the hot sun rays.
- Creates more indoor/outdoor living space.
- Makes for easy gutter install and maintenance.
Cons of Bonnet Roof
- Can be more expensive than other basic roof styles.
- May be viewed as very outdated by some builders and homeowners. Works with a certain aesthetic.
For more information on roofing materials plus pros and cons of each, check out our comprehensive Roofing Materials Guide. Pairing the right roofing materials, roof style, and home aesthetic are critical to boosting curb appeal and getting you into a home that really matches your style and aesthetic. We’d love to help you achieve that, so for a FREE estimate, contact First American Roofing!