15 Rooftop Types to Choose From
Which roof will inspire you?
Which roof will inspire you?
Sometimes a roof is damaged from old age or a bad storm and needs replacing, giving homeowners the opportunity to revamp the entire look of their home. In other cases, people designing their own homes simply don't know how many options are available to them when it comes to the top of their house.
This slideshow outlines 15 gorgeous roof types, their pros and cons, and details about choosing them.
And if you can't decide on one, try combining multiple styles (with the help of an architect, of course) to build your dream structure.
1. Gable Roof
The gable roof is classic. If you have a child, you've more than likely seen this style appear in a number of drawings, as it is the simplest and most commonly recognized roofing style. It has two sloping sides that join together at a ridge, creating a triangular shape. Of course, most homes have more than one gable. And, the children usually draw it wrong; the sloping sides are most frequently going down to the front and back of the home, not the sides, unless a covered porch or dormers have been added, providing more dimension and architectural beauty to the house.
Because this style is so simplistic, it is also fairly easy to build and inexpensive compared with other roofing structures. Many homeowners choose to adorn their gable roofs with wood shakes, asphalt, or slate shingles, as these are all lightweight and cost-effective, keeping the theme of simplicity for the roof, though these type often require reinforcement for stability. Metal shingles are a more durable option, and they come in a variety of colors to match your home's overall look.
This structure is also great for areas that see heavy rain and snow, as the pitched structure allows it to trickle off easily. It also works well for incorporating an attic into the home's design. However, in areas that see high wind and tornadoes, a lightweight gable roof with improper frames or excessive overhangs can be lifted from the walls.
Image source: This Old House
2. Hipped Roof
Almost as popular as the gable roof, the hip roof offers inclined sides and ends. These slopes much gentler than the harsher inclines of the gable roof style, and they are equal on all four sides.
The inward slope on all four sides makes this roof more durable than the gable roof, allowing it to withstand high winds, rain, and snow much better. Plus, most roofing materials work well with this style, so you can select the one you prefer, rather than one that is recommended. The downside is that this is a more complex design, which means it requires more materials to build, costing you more money.
Hip roofs allow for an attic or a vaulted ceiling, dormers, or crow's nests, depending on your preference and needs. They are also great for ensuring your home has proper ventilation.
Image source: Houzz
3. Dutch Gable Roof
The dutch gable roof combines elements of the hipped and gable roof structures. It has four sloped sides, a gabled peak, and wide eaves.
This design combines the best of both the hip and the gable roofs. It holds onto the durability of the hip roof with proper bracing, as well as the simplicity of ventilation offered by gables. Because the structure works well in many different climates, it does well with most materials. However, if you have multiple hips and valleys, you should strongly consider metal to avoid water pooling and leaks.
While building this design is similar to building other hip roofs, the vertical gables can increase costs, as it is more wasteful of materials and adds to man hours needed. Also, it can be difficult to attach gutters to this style.
As a plus, it works well for attic storage areas or upper-level living space.
Image source: Katrina Chamber Life & Design
4. Mansard Roof
The mansard roof is beautifully ornate. Its French architecture style features two separate slops on all four faces, all with different angles. Many who choose the mansard roof, or curb roof, also decide to add dormers for a more visually-stunning structure.
This roofing structure has steep angles and needs to be installed using man-lifts, ladders, and/or scaffolding. Plus, the detailed, complex architecture makes it more difficult to install, therefore making it more expensive. However, because the design is pitched, you can take advantage of more usable space in the topmost level of your home.
Because the slopes of this roof are so steep, weight distribution is minimal for mansard roofs. This means lightweight asphalt shingles are not ideal, as they have a tendency to fall off prematurely. More durable materials are recommended for this structure; some more durable materials include ceramic clay, cement, slate, metal, and wood.
Image source: Elwood House Museum
5. Gambrel Roof
For homeowners with more simplistic, traditional tastes, the gambrel style is a great option. It has steep angles, like the mansard, but a farmhouse design. While the cost is similar to the gable, there are important considerations unique to this structure. For instance, the different angles make it a poorly ventilated and poorly insulated structure, meaning you need to pay attention to adding proper ventilation and insulation.
Because metal is durable, long-living, and low-maintenance, it is a common choice for covering a gambrel roof. However, many who prefer the look of slate, asphalt, and wood are still in luck. If you take the proper precautions and install the correct panels, you can make these materials work.
While it offers some of the design complexities of the mansard roof, it is less expensive. However, it also is less resilient against harsh weather, such as high moisture from rain or snow and high winds.
Image source: Visbeen Architects
6. Jerkinhead Roof
The jerkinhead roof—commonly found on Victorian homes, cottages, and bungalows—combines parts of the gable and hipped roof styles to give your home a vintage look. It is also known as a half-hipped roof.
This is a more complicated-looking design, but fortunately, that doesn't add much to the building difficulty and cost. You can choose pretty much any type of roofing material to create the jerkinhead structure, though shingles and tiles are most common. Plus, because the hipped roof clipping streamlines the peak of the structure, it can reduce potential wind damage, so you don't have too worry much about choosing shingles or tiles.
Similar to the gable roof, proper ventilation is best accomplished by installing a ridge or soffit venting system or by installing gable end vents. However, unlike the simple gable roof, the jerkinhead is more durable and stable. Plus, it offers a good amount of space to add a top living floor or attic.
Image source: The Works
The Northeastern saltbox is an asymmetrical structure that will add drama to any home. It has one slight slope, usually in the front, and one steep slope to make the roof look edgy and exciting. While some homeowners aren't crazy about the funky architecture, there are a number of benefits to this type of roof.
This structure is durable and can be built with most roofing materials. The runoff is great if you live in an area with frequent rain or snow, so you don't have to worry about leaks.
Also, the high ceiling means there's a lot of potential for adding living space to the uppermost part of your home.
Image source: Classic Colonial Homes
8. Pyramid Roof
A pyramid roof is exactly as the name implies—a roof in which all four sides meet at a single point at the top center of the structure. It is without gables or vertical sides. It is completely symmetrical on each side.
Because this style works best on square-shaped structures, it tends to be used on smaller buildings, such as sheds, pool houses, and cabins.
This aerodynamic structure makes it great for high-wind areas, and the four equal slopes are ideal for draining rain and snow. Additionally, because this type of structure has eaves all around, it provides good natural insulation. Plus, a proper design leaves enough room for additional insulation to be installed.
While there are no constraints when it comes to material choices, these roofs are difficult to maintain and work on, so metal is recommended to have a more permanent, low-maintenance structure.
Unfortunately, the steepness of your roof will dictate whether you have space for an attic. You can add a storage space, but it will be difficult to access and move around in if you don't build a high-peaked structure.
These are also expensive to install because they require a lot of material and labor hours, so many homeowners avoid them.
Image source: Werner & Sons Roofing and Exteriors
9. Bonnet Roof
Named for it's hat-like design, this roof has a double slope on each side of the structure. The upper slope is steeper, which is important for draining water. The second slope is shallower and is often ideal for covering a small porch or entrance way.
Constructing this style can be more challenging, as trusses must be incorporated into the design to keep the roof sturdy and in place. This will drive the cost up. Because this design is less common and more challenging to create, is recommended that you hire a professional with experience in the bonnet roof style to install this structure.
One plus is that you can use pretty much any material you'd like: stone, metal, wood, asphalt, etc.
However, it is important to frequently inspect the seam where the two slopes meet, as they can retain water that will leak through over time.
Image source: Flickr: Joel Abroad
10. Flat Roof
Another modern option is the flat roof. Although these structures are more common on commercial buildings, more modern home designs feature the flat roof as well.
As its name implies, this roof has no visual slope or pitch (though there is a minimal, 10 degree slope to allow for adequate drainage). Even with this ever-so-slight slope, a flat roof is not ideal for shedding snow or rain, meaning you may be subject to more frequent repairs. You also need to consider leak-resistant materials such as EPDM rubber or TPO and PVC membranes.
Image source: Decoist
11. Skillion Roof
The skillion roof makes for a gorgeous, modern focal point for your home. An inexpensive option, the skillion features a single slope that creates an off-set visual exterior appearance. Because of its lean-to structure, it is often referred to as a shed roof.
This option is about equal with the gable roof in both cost and ease of building. This means you can use most materials easily. While standing seam panels give the most modern look to this edgy roof, metal, asphalt, and tile are also common.
Because the slope is so steep, you don't need to worry about drainage. However, ventilation can be a problem with the skillion structure, so it is important to think about adding soffit or ridge venting systems. They also don't hold up well in extreme high winds and storms, so building them in a tornado-prone area is not recommended.
Image source: All Australian Architecture
12. Butterfly Roof
The butterfly roof is bold, modern, and edgy. In this design, two panels meet in the middle of the roof, sloping upward on the outer ends—like butterfly wings. Such a complex design means this is a difficult roof structure to install, making it expensive in labor and materials.
The butterfly roof has an aerodynamic structure, which means it can withstand high winds and heavy storms. The angles of this roof allow for larger windows, which brings in more natural light. It is also a great design for adding solar panels or a rainwater collection system.
However, with this design there is also a risk that drainage will get clogged, water will pool, and your roof will spring a leak. The best way to prevent this is to use materials that are easier to waterproof, such as PVC or metal.
It is also important to note the added maintenance that will be needed with such a roof. The inverse slope means constant maintenance, which can be difficult and costly.
Image source: Plastolux
13. Sawtooth Roof
The sawtooth roof is a visually-stunning structure in which two or more pitched roofs are placed parallel to one another. This option has become more popular in home designs, as it has a modern appeal.
Some of the more common materials used for the sawtooth roof are metal, wood, and reinforced concrete. Unfortunately, the multiple peaks and valleys of this structure makes it susceptible to leaks, so you'll need to take extra measures to waterproof these materials and seal up any seams where snow or water could infiltrate the home.
One advantage of this unique structure is that you can add a nice loft space for a play area, home office, spare room, or storage space. Plus, there are numerous places to add gorgeous windows that will illuminate the home with ample natural lighting.
It is highly recommended that you hire a professional to help design and to install a sawtooth roof.
Image source: Houzz
14. Dome Roof
The dome roof can add a majestic appeal to your home, as it was made popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. In this century, it is more frequently seen on gazebos, though that doesn't mean it is off-limits for your home.
This kind of roof can often be found on prefabricated homes or can be bought in prefabricated kits, as installing on your own can be tricky. The design is expensive and time-consuming to build, for a professional or DIYer.
Metal is the best material for this structure, though glass or shingles could be used if you prefer. However, metal is the most durable and will give the home a sleeker look.
The shape of this roof makes it durable, aerodynamic, and visually stunning. The dome is perfect for draining water and dealing with snow and winds. It would do well in most climates and would certainly give your home a unique edge over your neighbors' homes.
Image source: Pfeifer Roofing
15. Curved Roof
If you truly want a unique home, the curved roof may be what you're looking for. You can customize the curvature to suit your tastes and needs, which makes it popular among homeowners designing their own structures.
Because it is so customizable, you can design the curvature to best suit your area's weather conditions.
Metal is the best option for this roof because it can be manipulated into whatever shape you design. Plus, it is durable and requires little maintenance over time. However, the right architect can work with you to customize as much as possible.
This can be costly to design and build, as some challenges are presented when you're designing such a curvy structure.
Image source: Inhabitat