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 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
- 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 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
- 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. The roof shape helps protect structures from standing water without the need for a full pitched roof.
Pros of Shed Roofs
- Roofers can complete the 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 shingles or panels, 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 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.
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:
- Modified Bitumen (MBR)
- Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
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
- DIY-Friendly, homeowners can often handle simple repairs.
- Inexpensive to install and maintain
- The lightweight material doesn’t need to be reinforced and can be installed on most buildings.
- Boosts energy-efficiency, both retaining heat and keeping the air cool
- Strong against leaks
Cons of Membrane Flat Roofs
- Works best on roofs that don’t have chimneys or other HVAC systems that the material needs to be installed around
- Susceptible to punctures from debris or severe storms
- The more seams, the more susceptible membrane material is to leaks.
Pros of MBR Flat Roofs
- Excellent flexibility and elasticity during severely cold weather conditions
- High durability
- Come in easy-to-install self-adhesive rolls.
Cons of MBR Flat Roofs
- Some types of MBR require highly skilled laborers for installation using torches to seal the adhesive.
- Similar to membranes, MBR can be susceptible to leaks at joints if not adhered correctly.
- Less aesthetically pleasing than other flat roof materials
Pros of BUR Flat Roofs
- Protective against harmful UV rays
- Easy to repair
- Great for buildings with high foot traffic on the roof (maintenance crews on apartment buildings, etc.)
Cons of BUR Flat Roofs
- Requires professional installation
- Less flexible than MBR during cold weather, it can crack under cold temperatures.
- Material is heavy and may require some reinforcement.
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
- Great for capturing rainwater. Any rainfall will be easily collected and run off the edge of the roof and into a rain barrel or other apparatus to collect water for gardening and other uses.
- Your home or business’s interior walls can be lengthened to create stunning gallery walls, rather than high-pitched in the center of the room.
- Butterfly roofs have shown to be quite strong against high winds and storm damage.
Cons of Butterfly Roofs
- They are very expensive. This roof’s complexity makes for long, complicated installation requiring extra training and expertise—driving up the cost.
- Despite being great for rainwater harvesting, this type of roof can quickly and easily collect snow, ice, and other debris.
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
- They create more space and functionality in upper-level rooms.
- It can be customized to any size, big or small, depending on its use.
- It brings more ventilation to upper floors that might otherwise not even have windows.
Cons of Dormer Roofs
- Not very DIY-friendly. Require expert installation.
- Costly to install and maintain
- Can make the roof more susceptible to leaks
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
- Creates a unique, timelessly modern design
- The steep slope allows for easy water runoff.
- Requires fewer materials and can be installed faster and cheaper than other roofs
- Creates space for added windows and skylights
Cons of Skillion Roofs
- Little to no attic space
- More susceptible to damage from high winds and severe storms
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
- Its asymmetrical design is both stylish and functional, keeping it strong against high winds.
- The high slope is excellent for snow and water-shedding.
- Creates more living space by bringing a one-story house to 1.5 or 2 stories.
Cons of Saltbox Roofs
- The asymmetrical lengths of the sides make it more complicated than any typical gable roof.
- Takes away any opportunity for extra attic space.
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
- Resistance to high winds
- More stable than a standard open gable
- More attic space than a hip roof
- Unique architectural design
Cons of Jerkinhead Roofs
- It can be more expensive to install due to more materials
- Require more leak-proof measures due to extra seams
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
- Allow more natural sunlight than hip or gable roofs
- Unique design
- Opportunity for windows or small balconies
Cons of Dutch Gable Roofs
- Complicated installation/construction
- Susceptible to leaks—requires more flashing and sealant
- More costly materials and labor
- May require only waterproof materials/measures
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
- Ability to install windows and skylights
- Dynamic curb appeal
- Withstand strong winds
- Extensive gutter systems
- More spacious upper-level or attic
Cons of Hip and Valley Roofs
- Expensive and lengthy to install
- More valleys mean more opportunity for leaks
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
- Incredibly resistant to strong windstorms
- It can be great for hurricane-prone climates
- Creates high ceilings for tons of extra attic/upper-level space
- Overhangs can bring energy cost savings by shading exposed upper-level windows
Cons of Pyramid Roofs
- Expensive to install due to their complex design and steep slopes
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
- Work for homes with new editions.
- Beautiful curb appeal.
- Relatively easy to install
Cons of Cross Hipped Roofs
- Creates more valleys which require extra leak protection
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
- Work for all types of climates
- Unique design and curb appeal
- Can make more space on upper floors
- Improve rainwater shed
Cons of Combination Roofs
- Can have too many valleys (susceptible to leaks)
- More expensive to design and install
- Make not work for all roof styles
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
- Opportunity for clerestory windows to bring light into unique spaces.
- Gives more structure to the home’s design.
- Great for water run-off.
- Quick and easy to install.
- Fits the modern minimalist aesthetic.
Cons of Lean-To Roofs
- Not suited for larger homes.
- May take away attic space.
- Susceptible to being lifted by high winds.
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
- Provide tons of space in the attic/upper floor.
- A beautiful take on the standard gable roof.
- Great roof for home additions.
Cons of Gable and Valley Roofs
- More valleys mean more susceptibility to leaks.
- More expensive for both materials and labor.
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
- Allow for extra living space in smaller properties.
- Opportunity for lots of windows for natural light.
- Give more structure than a commercial flat roof.
Cons of M-Shaped Roofs
- Can cause lots of snow and ice build-up in the valleys.
- However, the steep slopes will catch less as they will almost immediately fall off.
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
- Beautiful aesthetic
- Works well for larger homes.
- Creates unique room layouts on the upper floor.
Cons of Intersecting Roofs
- Can be very costly to install (require more materials and labor)
- More intersections mean more valleys at risk of leaks.
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!