Roof Design 101 Roof Design 101

Roofs come in a variety of styles and materials and whether you’re having a new home built or renovating an existing one, they're an important consideration. With so many designs to choose from, being up-to-date and knowing the differences, including some of the pros and cons, can help with better decision making before committing and investing in a particular style. When constructing a new roof, consider along with the style compatible covering materials, the amount of maintenance, and structural integrity to manage inclement weather.

This list of the many different types of roof designs gives a short explanation of each style.

A-frame – Bungalows, cottages, and cabins are just a few of the structures that make use of this style. An a-frame serves as both the walls of the home and the roof.

A-frame house in the countryside in front of a lake.

Arched Roof – This style is common on many house styles including single and split-level. The arch generally covers a portion of the house with another roofing style covering the rest.

Bonnet Roof – The bonnet lives up to its name as it works as a cover mostly for outdoor areas such as a patio, porch, or to cover a boat or motorhome.

A mountain home surrounded by snow.

Butterfly Roof – Envision a pair of butterfly wings fully extended, and that’s an example of a butterfly roof. It's an interesting and futuristic look, but not the best choice for water drainage.

Gable – The traditional gable roof looks like an upside down "V." It's a simplistic style that adds distinctive flair to an otherwise plain roof. The gables also provide an excellent means of ventilation.

A gabled roof against a blue sky.

Cross Gabled Roof – For an interesting architectural look for expansive homes, the cross gabled style is a perfect fit. For homes with several wings, multiple gables of varying sizes are constructed, giving the home a visually unique and patterned look.

A cross gabled house surrounded by trees and rocks.

Pyramid Roof – Used mostly on smaller homes or positioned in a series of pyramids over a series of smaller roof portions.

Flat Roof – A flat roof is just that: flat. It's one of the easier styles to construct and when repairs are necessary, it’s accessible and provides a safe place to stand. The downside is that there must be enough pitch to allow for adequate water drainage. A flat roof requires more maintenance and needs to be regularly cleared of any debris, leaves, or limbs that can accumulate on the surface.

A modern home with a flat roof line.

Gambrel – Choose the Dutch or French-inspired style of this structure that features vertical gable ends with an overhanging roof over the façade. It's used extensively on barns. As a residential choice, the roof provides attic space for additional living, studying, playing, or storage areas.

Skillion Roof – Much like a flat roof, the skillion style is set at an angle slopping downward. The slight incline allows architects to create visually appealing roof patterns while maintaining the roof’s ability to prevent pooling of water on the roof which can lead to deterioration and potential leaking.

A modern house with a skillion roof.

Hip Roof – Similar to the pyramid roof, the design consists of four individual sides and a flat top where each side converges creating a four-sided design.

Mansard Roof – If you’re looking to increase the space at the top of the house for additional living or storage room, the Mansard style can handle the job. The roof consists of four slopes: two on each side and each level of the home. The lower slope is steeper with a more pronounced vertical angle, while the upper slope is not as pronounced.

A house with a mansard roofline.

Shed Roof – The name is deceptive as this roof style is not for sheds. The design is much like a flat roof, but with more pitch. It's used frequently with other roof styles or for an addition to the home.

Saltbox – An unusual design that results in an interesting exterior. Typically, this type of roof is constructed on homes with the height of a one-story dwelling on one side and a two-story on the other. The asymmetrical pitch consists of one side of the roof being very long, while the opposite side is short.

A saltbox roofline on a farmhouse surrounded by snow.

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