A Guide to Understanding Different Roof Styles

The roof is often referred to as the "crowning glory" of a building. Not only does it protect the structure from external elements, but it also adds character and style to the overall appearance. Whether you're a homeowner doing routine maintenance or an architect designing a residential building, understanding different roof styles can help you make informed decisions. A poorly chosen or installed rooftop could cause severe problems down the road — from leakages to premature aging and more. This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of different roof styles to help you decide on your next roofing project.

1. Gable Roofs

Gable roofs, or pitched or peaked roofs, are among the most popular roof styles in the US. Their triangular shape easily recognizes them. Gable roofs can be covered with various materials like tiles, shingles, or metal and are hailed for their ability to shed water and snow effectively. The professional team at advanceroofingllc.com/ suggests that the steep pitch of these roofs makes them ideal for regions with heavy snowfall. Gable roofs should be installed with a slight incline to ensure proper water drainage.

Types of Gable Roofs:  

  • Side Gable: The roof ridge runs parallel to the house's walls, with the gables on the sides.

  • Front Gable: The roof ridge runs perpendicular to the walls, with the gable at the front of the house.

  • Cross Gabled: When two or more gable roofs intersect at different angles, creating multiple peaks and valleys. This style is commonly seen in larger homes.

  • Dutch Gable: A combination of a hip and gable roof, where the top section is a gable and the lower section is hipped.


  • Excellent water-shedding capabilities

  • Allows for good ventilation

  • It provides more space for an attic or storage

  • Can easily accommodate solar panels


  • Susceptible to wind damage, especially in areas with high winds

  • Limited design options and may not be suitable for modern or contemporary homes

2. Hip Roofs

This roof style is characterized by all sides sloping downwards to the walls, with no vertical or flat sides. Four equal sides forming a ridge at the top create a "pyramid" hip roof, while elongated sides that meet at a peak form a "simple" hip roof. Unlike gable roofs, hip roofs have no gables or vertical sides, providing increased resistance to wind and storm damage. Due to their complex design, they may be more expensive to build, but their durability and aesthetic appeal often justify the cost.

Types of Hip Roofs:

  • Simple or Pyramid: All four roof sections meet at the top to form a pyramid shape.

  • Cross-Hipped: When two or more hip roofs intersect at different angles, creating multiple peaks and valleys. Similar to cross-gabled roofs, all four sides have a hipped appearance.

  • Half-Hipped: Similar to a simple pyramid roof, but with the addition of small gables on two sides for aesthetic purposes.


  • Excellent water-shedding capabilities

  • Provides good ventilation

  • More stable and durable compared to gable roofs

  • Offers more design options, including different pitches and overhangs


  • Generally more expensive to build due to the complexity of the roof structure

  • It may require more regular maintenance due to the multiple valleys and ridges.

3. Flat Roofs

As the name suggests, flat roofs have minimal pitch and appear almost level. They are common in commercial, industrial, and modern residential buildings. The primary advantage is the additional living space - a terrace, garden, or even an extra floor. However, meticulous maintenance is required due to water pooling and leakages. Flat roofs offer many homeowners a unique aesthetic and practical potential despite the challenges.

Types of Flat Roofs:

  • Built-up Roof (BUR) consists of multiple layers of roofing felt or fiberglass mats soaked in asphalt and sealed with hot tar.

  • Modified Bitumen: Similar to BUR, but with added plastic or rubber modifiers for improved durability and flexibility.

  • Single-Ply Membrane: Made from synthetic materials such as TPO, PVC, or EPDM and installed in large sheets.


  • Relatively inexpensive to install

  • Easy maintenance and repair

  • It can be used as a rooftop garden or patio area


  • Poor water drainage if not installed properly

  • Not suitable for areas with heavy snowfall as the weight can cause structural damage

  • Requires regular maintenance and resealing to prevent leaks.

4. Mansard Roofs 

Also called French roofs, they have four sides with a double slope. The lower slope is steeper, while the upper slope is often not visible from the ground. This design optimizes space under the roof, allowing for additional living areas called garrets. Mansard roofs can be adorned with slate, wood, or metal and are known for their aesthetic appeal. However, they may require regular maintenance due to their complex structure and potential water pooling on the lower slope.

Types of Mansard Roofs:

  • Full or Classic: The lower slope covers most of the roof, adding windows for more natural light and ventilation.

  • Half Mansard: Only the top section of the roof is sloped, with a flat or low-pitched roof covering the lower section.


  • Provides additional living space in the attic

  • Can easily accommodate dormers for more natural light and ventilation

  • Adds an aesthetic appeal to traditional or historic buildings


  • Generally more expensive to build

  • Requires regular maintenance and repair, especially for the steep lower slope.

5. Shed Roofs

Shed roofs, or skillion roofs, are single-sloping structures attached to a taller wall on one side, giving them a distinctive, sloping appearance. They are simple to construct, cost-effective, and excellent for rainwater run-off due to their steep slope. Shed roofs complement modern, industrial, or Scandinavian-style homes with minimalistic designs. Despite their simplicity, shed roofs can make a bold architectural statement and offer the advantage of creating vaulted ceilings or loft spaces inside the home. However, they may not be ideal for regions prone to high winds or heavy snowfall due to increased pressure on the higher wall.

Types of Shed Roofs:

  • Lean-to: The roof is attached to an existing wall, with the higher side facing away from the building.

  • Skillion: Similar to the lean-to, but with a steeper slope. It is often used for modern or contemporary homes.


  • Easy and cost-effective to build

  • It provides good water drainage

  • It can be easily attached to an existing structure for additional space


  • Limited design options may not be suitable for larger buildings due to the single slope.

6. Skillion Roofs

Skillion roofs, mono-pitched or shed roofs, are flat roofs with a single-sloping surface. They have a steeper pitch and offer design versatility. Skillion roofs are used in residential and commercial buildings, providing excellent water drainage and a modern aesthetic. They are ideal for incorporating solar panels, offering a large, unobstructed surface area for sun exposure.

Types of Skillion Roofs:

  • Monoslope: Similar to a lean-to or shed roof, with one side attached to an existing structure and the other sloping down.

  • Butterfly: Two skillion roofs angled towards each other in the middle, creating a gutter-like valley in the center.

  • Sawtooth: A series of skillion roofs with alternating pitches, often used in industrial buildings to allow for natural light and ventilation.


  • Easy to construct and cost-effective

  • Offers good water drainage

  • It provides design flexibility and can be used for various types of buildings


  • Requires regular maintenance to prevent water pooling and leaks.

7. Bonnet Roofs

Also known as a double hip roof, bonnet roofs combine hip and gable roofs. They have four slopes, with the lower slope being steeper than the upper one. The design provides excellent water drainage and increased stability against wind and snow loads. However, their complex structure may require more advanced construction techniques and be more expensive to build.

Types of Bonnet Roofs:

  • Open: The upper, less steep slope is left open with no gables, while the lower slope covers all four sides.

  • Close: Both the upper and lower slopes cover all four sides, giving a more symmetrical appearance.


  • It provides excellent water drainage

  • More stable and durable compared to gable roofs

  • Offers a unique and attractive appearance


  • Generally more expensive to build due to the complexity of the roof structure

  • It requires advanced construction techniques and may not be suitable for all types of buildings.

8. Round Roofs

As the name suggests, round roofs have a circular shape with a dome-like structure. They are commonly seen in traditional or historic buildings like churches and mosques but can also be used in modern architecture to create unique and eye-catching designs. Due to their complex and labor-intensive construction, it may be more expensive to build than other roof styles.

Types of Round Roofs:

  • Onion Dome: Common in Eastern European and Russian architecture, it is characterized by a bulbous, onion-like shape.

  • Ribbed Dome: Consisting of numerous arches intersecting to form a dome structure.


  • It provides additional interior space and allows for creative design elements

  • Ideal for larger structures with a circular or symmetrical layout


  • It can be more expensive and labor-intensive to build

  • Requires specialized construction techniques and materials.

When choosing a roof style for your building, consider its aesthetic appeal, functionality, durability, and weather resistance. Each style has pros and cons, so consider the climate and specific needs of your building. This guide provides information to make an informed choice for your next roofing project. Consult a professional roofing contractor to determine the best option, considering climate, budget, and maintenance factors. The proper roof style enhances your property's appearance, value, and protection.

Need help with your house roof or remodel visit, Antone Briody Constructions and Erne Valley Construction.

A Guide to Understanding Different Roof Styles A Guide to Understanding Different Roof Styles Reviewed by Opus Web Design on December 22, 2023 Rating: 5

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