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23 Roof Styles Compared: Pro’s & Con’s List (With Pictures)

July 29th, 2021 BY First American Roofing

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.

open gable

Open Gable

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 the open gable roof is hands down 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

Cons of Open Gable Roofs

Box Gable

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 box gable roof 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

Cons of Box Gable Roofs

Hip

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

Cons of Hip Roofs

Gambrel

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

Cons of Gambrel Roofs

Mansard

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

Cons of Mansard Roofs

Shed

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. The roof shape helps protect structures from standing water without the need for a full pitched roof.

Pros of Shed Roofs

Cons of Shed Roofs

A-Frame

Your classic A-frame style roof is 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

Cons of A-Frame Roofs

Bonnet

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

Cons of Bonnet Roof

flat roof

Flat Roof

A perfectly flat, zero-degree roof would probably not be great for any building, which is why “flat roofs” are roofs with a very slight slope of about 1-2 degrees. This slope is critical for water run-off, but flat roofs are composed of different materials that withstand some standing water for periods without collapse because it moves much more slowly.

The three main types of flat roofs materials used are:

Each has its own set of pros and cons depending on the type of building, climate, and other factors like price and location. Flat roofs are more commonly used for commercial buildings but can also be used on residential apartment complexes, older brownstone buildings, etc.

Pros of Membrane Flat Roofs

Cons of Membrane Flat Roofs

Pros of MBR Flat Roofs

Cons of MBR Flat Roofs

Pros of BUR Flat Roofs

Cons of BUR Flat Roofs

butterfly roof

Butterfly Roof

Yes, a butterfly roof gets its name from its butterfly-wing like appearance. Instead of coming to a point on the top, the two slopes go downwards towards each other, creating a valley in the middle of the roof, rather than a high pitch point. They are a highly unique design and won’t be found in too many traditional or modern designed homes.

Pros of Butterfly Roofs

Cons of Butterfly Roofs

 

dormer roof

Dormer Roof

You’ll most likely hear a dormer referred to as a dormer window, or just the type of dormer it is, and not a dormer roof. That’s because dormers are more of an extension or addition to an upper level as a small room or window that juts out from the roof. They are intended to make a little more space and bring in light to upper-level attics or living spaces. Some maybe even have small balconies or decks off of them.

Pros of Dormer Roofs

Cons of Dormer Roofs

 

skillion roof

Skillion Roof

A skillion roof is like a shed or lean-to roof in that it contains a steep, single slope rather than two points meeting in the middle. However, skillion roofs will often have a second slope on the other side of a varying height or angle. They create a very unique and modern look that not only transforms the exterior of a home but the interior as well. It’s a dynamic shape that can bring light and space into areas otherwise lacking with a standard pitched roof.

Pros of Skillion Roofs

Cons of Skillion Roofs

 

saltbox roof

Saltbox Roof

A saltbox roof looks like a few different types of roofs melded together. It has a high slope like that of a Skillion or Shed roof but still comes to a peak in the center, with a shorter, less steep slope in the back. This style can give the illusion of a larger home and create more space on one side of the house vs. the other.

Pros of Saltbox Roofs

Cons of Saltbox Roofs

jerkinhead roof

Jerkinhead Roof

A jerkinhead roof is quite similar to a hip roof in that the two sides come to a point, but then the ends are much shorter, clipped angles on the ends of the peak. Standard gables can be susceptible to wind damage and even wind lifting the roof off of its structure. The clipped ends of a jerkinhead roof can help protect your roof against strong wind damage.

Pros of Jerkinhead Roofs

Cons of Jerkinhead Roofs

dutch gable roof

Dutch Gable Roof

A dutch gable roof is like a hybrid of a hip roof and an open gable, with a splash of jerkinhead. It’s a hip roof with a more curved or angled slope of the two main sides, but with closed gables on each end, and a small opening near the top—like a miniature gable. This allows for the hip roof look, but with the chance for more windows and sunlight from the attic space. This makes for a stunning detail that can really boost curb appeal and enhance the overall look of your home.

Pros of Dutch Gable Roofs

Cons of Dutch Gable Roofs

hip and valley roof

Hip and Valley Roof

A hip and valley roof is just that: a series of hips and valleys all in one roof. This is often used on larger structures with a unique architectural design or shape and require multiple intersecting types of roofs to work. They can look a little bulky and heavy if not done correctly. Thus, why many hip and valley roofs will showcase skylights, windows, dormers, etc., to utilize the space and break up the monotony of the large surface area.

Pros of Hip and Valley Roofs

Cons of Hip and Valley Roofs

pyramid roof

Pyramid Roof

A pyramid roof is similar to a hip roof except that all sides come to the same point in the center of the roof. There can be three or more sides, and you’ll often find pyramid roofs used on smaller structures like pool houses, cabins, or even garages.

Pros of Pyramid Roofs

Cons of Pyramid Roofs

cross hipped roof

Cross Hipped Roof

A cross hipped roof is more often than not laid out in an “L” shape with two intersecting hip sections on the roof. It makes for a very dynamic design for L shaped homes and ties in the entire home.

Pros of Cross Hipped Roofs

Cons of Cross Hipped Roofs

comination roof

Combination Roof

A combination roof gives homeowners the best of both worlds as it is, as you guessed, a combination of two types of roofs. These types of roofs can work for both residential or commercial buildings and can offer the benefits of more than one kind of roof which can boost rainwater run-off and heating or cooling benefits.

Pros of Combination Roofs

Cons of Combination Roofs

Lean-To Roof

Lean-To Roof

Lean-to’s are recognizable by their extreme slopes and dramatic angles, connecting without a peak. Lean-to’s are common on farms where they act as a shelter for horses and other animals. But they also work great for residential homes, giving them a unique structure that is timelessly modern.

Pros of Lean-To Roofs

Cons of Lean-To Roofs

gable and valley roof

Gable and Valley Roof

A gable and valley roof is a commonly used roof on homes with an upper floor attic they’ve converted or would like to convert into a living space. It combines the classic gable roof but adds 2 or more gables jutting out from the sides (like an intersecting roof). This addition creates more valleys, of course, and thus creates more open space on the upper floors.

Pros of Gable and Valley Roofs

Cons of Gable and Valley Roofs

m-shaped roof

M-Shaped Roof

An m-shaped roof is like two gables put together side by side in the shape of an M. They are commonly seen in townhomes or other multi-family type properties. They can connect multiple homes but still give the effect of individual homes.

Pros of M-Shaped Roofs

Cons of M-Shaped Roofs

intersecting roof

Intersecting Roof

Intersecting roofs combine gable and hip-style roofs to create a much more dynamic look to your home. They bring a very classic look to homes and are particularly utilized in larger cape cod and dutch colonial older homes.

Pros of Intersecting Roofs

Cons of Intersecting Roofs

Which Type of Roof Is Best For You?

We went through quite a few roof styles today, and you may be wondering which is best for you. While many of these roof styles would work for your home, it’s mainly about which factors are most important to you. Once you decide on the level of aesthetics, durability, and functionality you are looking for, you will have a much easier time narrowing down your options.

If you are looking to boost your curb appeal, it is important you pair the right roofing materials with your roof style. For more information on roofing materials plus the pros and cons of each, check out our comprehensive Roofing Materials Guide.

If you are considering taking on a roof installation on your own, make sure to do so safely and be sure to contact a professional with any questions. If you are considering bringing in a professional contractor, be sure to contact First American Roofing for a FREE estimate. Whether it is a general question or an estimate, we would love to hear from you!

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