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You know the roof you drew on a house as a little kid? It’s that same, one point, pitched roof we’ve all drawn since we could hold a pencil. Did you know that is actually a specific style of a residential roof? That type of roof is called a gable roof.  In case you were wondering. We mentioned it briefly here. A gable roof is just one of almost a dozen regularly used residential roofing styles you will find on homes out there. What are some of the other ones you ask? Well, we’ll tell you!

The Gable Roof

As stated above, a gable style roof has two sloped sides that come together to form a peak. It is the most recognizable style and most often drawn roof on children’s drawings. The gable style roof is so popular all across America because of its simplicity. With the gentle slopes and peak, this classic triangle shape lets gravity do its job when it comes to rainfall or snow. The angle and slope of this residential roof shed weather debris away from the home, protecting your home and the area around it from the damages it may cause.

Another reason for its popularity is its low cost. Because of its simple design, the labor cost compared to more intricate residential roofs is far less, saving home builders costs and labor during construction.

The gable roof itself also has many styles of its own. Other than the single gable style, there’s the French gable that has sort of a flat top. It’s almost as if the peak has been cut off (think of a gothic style home). There is also the cross gable that kind of describes itself; it is two or more gables that run perpendicular to each other. You may find this popular design in newer housing developments if you look around!

Hip Roof

So, a gable style and a hip style roof are actually pretty similar in that they both have gentle slopes and both (mostly) have that peak. The difference with the hip style residential roof is that all sides have a slope. With a gable, you have straight, or vertical, sides coming down from the peak. With a hip, or hipped, roof, all sides of the roof have a gentle slope down. The sides are usually of equal length and come together to form a ridge.

Because of that difference in design, many say that this style of roof is actually more stable than the popular gable style residential roof. The slope of all four sides allows the roof to sustain the effects of the weather more evenly and as a bonus, may also provide dormer space if the homeowner chooses to add it. And just like with the gable style, there is a slew of different designs. Of course, with more features comes a higher cost. The design of this style is a little more complex than the gable and requires more building materials.

The Gambrel Roof

A gambrel roof is actually just another take of the gable roof. While a gable roof has two slopes and a peak, the gambrel is a residential roof that has two slopes on each side. Each side of the roof has a gentle slope on the top half and then deepens to a steeper slope on the bottom half. This steeper slope on the bottom half maximizes interior space and the roof actually hangs over the external walls a bit, which is great for the elements. Because of this unique design, farmers have adopted them for agricultural use as well.

In eighteenth-century England and North America, a gambrel roof was actually referred to as a “Dutch roof.”  In present day, many think of this as a typical “barn roof,” though it is still also used for residential roof designs. It’s becoming quite popular again with farm style homes. This roof design was typically found on Dutch-style colonial houses and was possibly inspired by Dutch traders.

Mansard Roof

This type of residential roof is similar to the gambrel style in the sense that it has two degrees of slopes. However, the difference is that instead of only two sides, the mansard has two slopes on all four sides of the home.

Inspired by the French architect (though not the inventor of it!) Francois Mansart, the mansard style of roof is considered an art form. Sometimes referred to as a French roof, this residential roof style is quite similar to the French gable. But don’t get them confused. Remember, a gable only has two sides. The mansard has four. If you would like to have a little brain teaser, think of it as a four-sided, hip-style, gambrel roof. That description alone used almost all roofing types we mentioned combined.

The popularity of this residential roof design surged through France and farther into Europe, eventually coming over to the United States. Stereotypically using slate or wood shingles on the roof, the overall roof design is pretty costly and was often a sign of a prominent homeowner, as it gave the home a very sophisticated look.

All Roofs Are Not Created Equal

You can literally spend hours researching the history of different residential roofs. From your classic gable roof to the sophisticated French mansard style, a great roof design is just as essential as the home design itself. Whether it’s purpose is purely functional or a way to add square footage, the subject of residential roof styles is incredibly interesting. There is probably a history class out there called The History of the Residential Roof. Or if there isn’t, there definitely should be.

Roofs have been around since the beginning of time — or at least since man came around and needed to make himself a shelter. From there, roofing styles have evolved through necessity, taste, and function. If we’ve peaked your curiosity about roof styles, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We may not be able to completely elaborate on the education, but we can definitely answer any questions you have regarding your current roof. Reach out to us here. We look forward to chatting with you.