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What Are The Types Of Roofs?

When building a new house or retrofitting an existing one, choosing the right type of roof can be more difficult than most people realise. Roofs do a lot more than just serving the most basic practical purpose of protecting a house and its occupants from the outside elements. 

For instance, a roof’s shape plays a major role in defining the overall look and style of a house. Roofs can also provide additional living space, as well as make your home more resilient, energy-efficient, and weather-proof.

This definitive guide to roof architecture and styles will help you understand and identify the best roof shape for your home, shed, garage, or place of business. We will also explore recommended roofing materials for the common roof types.

Trying to figure out what the different types of roofs are, what the different roof designs and styles mean, and what roofing materials work best for your home can be overwhelming. 

There are many varieties to pick from depending on your roof type, the look you are going for, and the amount you can afford to spend. Let’s take a look at the different types of roofs, roof materials, and roof designs.

Skillion And Lean-To

Amped with dramatic angular lines, skillion, and lean-to roof types feature juxtaposing slopes that often meet in the middle. And similar to a shed or slanted roof, there’s no ridge on the roofline. 

This results in walls of varying heights within a structure. A skillion roof lends home roofing a timelessly modern and bold look which results in intriguing crisscrossing angles and creates a defined space for angular clerestory windows to be housed in a space that normally receives no light.

Skillion roofs can be created quickly, affordably, and easily. Their steep pitch also lets water run off easily, ultimately reducing the need for additional waterproof roof treatments that lower-pitched roof types require. 

Their steeper pitch also evokes a more minimal design, and the materials used to make a skillion roof including metal, tend to be slick, unlike the bulkier shingles or tiles of a classic gable or hip roof.

Open Gable

Gable Roof

Ask any child to draw a house for you quickly, and it’s more than likely to feature a classic gable roof. Do you know why? That’s because that’s what most of us instinctively think of when drawing any home’s roof styles.

And though the silhouette of a gable roof may seem relatively simple, it’s composed of a few different panels. Simplified, gable roofs are a long, triangular prism with three essential components in this roof style. 

Two sides of a gable roof are sloped at an angle similar to a pitched roof. These sloped angels meet along a central ridge running parallel to the length of a home. The gables themselves are the vertical, triangular section of the wall exposed between the pitched sides on each end along with the parts of the wall that extend from the bottom of the eaves to the peak of the ridge.

Box Gable

Box gable roof types feature a triangular extension at each end of the structure, with the roof section boxed tailored at the end. This design is similar to a standard gable roof, but highlight the triangular section of the roof style more.

Dormer

Dormer roof types feature a roofed structure most often with a window that extends vertically beyond the plane of a pitched roof. Also referred to as a rooftop window, dormers are used to increase usable space in a lofted area while adding additional windows along the roof plane.

Hip

Shaped like an abbreviated pyramid, hip roof styles are a type of roof where every side slopes downward, usually with fairly subtle roof angles. A hip roof features no gables or other vertical sides that extend to the roof.

Hip And Valley

Taking a cue from a classic hip roof, hip and valley roof types work best when a building needs a combination of roof types and angles to facilitate the structures of architectural elements.

Gambrel

Gambrel roof styles are symmetrical two-sided panels with slopes on each side. Their design takes in the advantages of sloped roof angles while lengthening headspace inside a building’s upper level while diminishing what would otherwise be a tall roof.

Mansard

Popular for centuries throughout Europe, a mansard roof is a four-sided take on a gambrel roof with two slopes on each of its sides with the lower slope punctuated by dormer windows housed at a steeper angle than the upper.

Butterfly

Because its shape evokes a butterfly’s wings, a butterfly roof design features a V shape. It is characterised by an inversion of a standard roof, with two roof angles sloping down from opposing edges to a valley near the middle.

Intersecting/Overlaid Hip

Intersecting roof types feature a combination of gable and hip silhouettes to top off more intricately built homes for a more dynamic visual effect that’s grander, yet still utterly classic.

Dutch Gable

Dutch gable roof styles boast a petite gable at the top of a hipped roof to evoke a more idyllic, pastoral feel.

Jerkinhead

A jerkinhead roof is a take on a gable roof where the peaks are abbreviated to mimic a hip roof. Here, clipped roof angles streamline the peak of a standard gable roof to reduce potential wind damage.

Flat

An ancient roof style, flat roofs are often used in arid climates to allow the roof space to be easily used. Flat roof types are easy to construct and are an affordable roofing option that consists of a roof almost flatly levelled in contrast to the variety of sloped and peaked roof styles available.

Flat roofs have around 10 degrees of a slope, known as a pitch. The only downside of this roof style is that there needs to be a proper irrigation system in place to avoid any possible flooding.

Cross Hipped

An enduringly popular variation of hip roof design, this design remains a common roof type and is often laid out in an ‘L’ shape. A cross hipped roof features two intersecting hip sections that run perpendicular to one another.

M Shaped

Boasting one of the most striking silhouettes among modern roof types, M shaped roofs give off the impression of a bold zig-zag horizon, making even the simplest and bare buildings all the more statement-making.

Saltbox

Hailing from New England and often used for a wooden frame house, saltbox home roofing is a traditional roof style with a long, pitched point that slopes down towards the back. A saltbox home also often has just one story in the back and two stories in the front due to its slanted styling.

Shed

Lifted from barn roof styles, a shed roof has only one sloping plane and is often not attached to another roof surface, keeping the look simple yet effective.

Combination

Perfect for all kinds of weather and conditions, combination roof types offer the best possible functions for any building. And as the name suggests, combination roofs use two different roof styles or more as needed, creating unique appeal and a striking juxtaposition of aesthetics. 

However, take note that the biggest risk of combination roof styles is creating unwarranted valleys that can create areas for leaks and sometimes mismatched styles that just aren’t meant to be.

A-Frame

A classic A-frame home takes its shape from idyllic barn roof styles and features steeply-angled sides that can often start at or near the foundation line and meet at the top to form the shape of the letter A.

Bonnet

A bonnet roof boasts a double slope on all four sides with the lower slope less steep than the upper slope. Bonnet roof styles don’t just cap off home, and they often lend spaces covered patios and porches via an extended overhand.

Gable And Valley

Combined, Gable and Valley roof types allow for full use of the arched space inside and are a classic option for homes of any size as they help maximise space. 

This is due to the inward slopes of a gable roof on two sides with the other two sides boasting a wall with a triangle shape at the top.

Pitched

Pitched roof types slope downwards, usually in two parts angled from a central ridge, or in one part, from one end to the other. The pitch of a roof is its vertical rise split by a steep horizontal span.

Pyramid

A variation of a hip roof, pyramid roof types keep all sides sloping down towards the walls, and depending on the size of the building, they may have three or more rectangular faces.

Sloping Flat

One of the most dramatic and minimal roof types of them all, sloping flat roofs feature one flat angled plain for a stunning effect.

A Guide To Maintaining Your Flat Roof

Other Factors to Keep in Mind When You’re Building or Buying a New Roof

Regardless of the roof type that you have, you will most likely need to have it repaired or replaced during your homeownership.

Major weather events and other natural disasters can be detrimental to the condition of your roof, of course. Still, planning and going with a roof structure type and roofing material that works best for your specific area and property can go a long way towards preserving and maintaining the state of your roof.

While the types of roofs for houses vary by climate, architectural style, and personal preference, it is good to understand the types of roof shapes and house roof styles that are common in your area and for your specific kind of home.

This will help you make the best possible choice for your needs, whether you are building an existing building or creating a home from scratch with a custom build, or anything in between.

What to Consider When Choosing Roofing Material

Now that we’ve gone over what makes each roof style unique, here are some good questions to consider when selecting the right roofing material for your needs: 

  • What kind of specialised installation will this material need?
  • Is there a variety of colours and styles available in this material that complement my home?
  • Does the material meet the local fire codes in my area?
  • Are there special installation and maintenance techniques to consider?
  • Depending on frequent weather conditions in my area, what kind of performance can each material best provide for me?
  • What is the cost, lifespan, and warranty for each home roofing material?

The answers to these questions will help you determine the best roof style choice for your home and budget. And since there are a ton of roofing material options priced from high to low, here’s what makes them different.

Roofing Materials To Consider

Asphalt Shingles

This type of roof is a go-to as they are cost-effective and easy to install and manage. Plus, asphalt shingles can be reinforced with fibreglass or organic materials without altering their appearance.

  • Pros: Asphalt is available in a variety of colours, is easy to source, and is the most affordable roofing application of them all.
  • Cons: Asphalt doesn’t last as long as roofing materials, doesn’t provide the same kind of insulation as others, and the quality can vary.
  • House Styles: Asphalt shingles work well with popular modern architectural styles – making it perfect for traditional suburban homes.
  • Cost and Life Span: Prices can range from about $65 to $150 a square, and when maintained properly, they can last up to 20 to 25 years.

Clay And Concrete Tiles

Perfect for a gable roof, and often Spanish inspired, clay and concrete tiles add texture and evoke a far-off, romantic feel. Clay tiles are extremely durable but are also very heavy. These concrete tiles are also equally versatile and are far less expensive than clay options.

  • Pros: Concrete tiles are energy efficient, and both clay and concrete tiles are long-lasting and non-combustible investments.
  • Cons: They can be expensive, are heavy, and require additional framing.
  • House Styles: They lend the perfect finishing touch to Mediterranean, Mission, Southwestern, and Spanish inspired homes.
  • Cost and Life Span: They can start at $300 to $500 a square and when maintained properly, can last about 40 to 50 years.

Metal Roofing

Resistant to extreme weather conditions, there are two types of metal roofing to consider: either metal panels or shingles. And since metal roofing comes in a variety of materials, including aluminium, copper, stainless steel, and zinc, there are plenty of directions you can choose from.

  • Pros: Metal roofing is sleek, lightweight, long-lasting, recyclable, and durable, and lasts much longer than any other roofing material.
  • Cons: Metal roofing can be more expensive.
  • House Styles: Metal roofs look great topping off modern and contemporary structures, or juxtaposed with older more quaint facades.
  • Cost and Lifespan: Prices average around $100 to $300 a square, with some more elaborate options reaching up to $600 to $800 a square. However, the plus side of the extra cost is that metal roofing can last around 40 to 75 years.

Slate

Boasting a distinctively modern elegance, slate roofing styles come in rich shades of black, green, grey, and burgundy.

  • Pros: Slate is strong, fire-resistant, and can be recycled.
  • Cons: It can be expensive and requires extra framing. And the quality can vary with imported slate materials.
  • House Styles: Slate roofs pair well with Colonial, European, and French-inspired homes.
  • Cost and Lifespan: Prices start at $600 a square, and they can last 50 to 100 years or more.

Wood Shingles And Shake

Popular for hundreds of years, wood shingles and shakes age with a gorgeous, time-worn patina. Wood shake squares are handmade and are more organic looking than wood shingles, which are cut by machine. Look for wood shingles treated with a fire-resistant coating.

  • Pros: Wood shingles lend a rustic feel and are a natural product.
  • Cons: Check your local fire codes for possible use. Wood shingles can mould, split or rot in wet climates.
  • House Styles: Both options rustic appeal pairs well with bungalow, Cape Cod, cottage, Craftsman, and Tudor-style homes.
  • Cost and Lifespan: Prices start at around $100 to $150 a square and will last around 25 to 30 years.

Synthetic Roofing

In terms of more affordable roofing options, synthetic roofing products are designed to be strong and easy to maintain with some materials boasting fire-resistant fabrication.

  • Pros: Synthetic roofing materials are less fragile, heavy, or as expensive as natural roofing products.
  • Cons: Often, they can absorb water, creating a mould, and the quality varies. 
  • House Styles: Synthetic roofing products work well with almost all architectural styles.
  • Cost and Lifespan: Prices are around $300 a square, and they can last up to 50 years.

Solar Panels

Probably one of the most talked-about roof types of them all, solar-paneled roofing has come a long way. Derived from the sun’s radiation, solar shingles and panels are extremely beneficial for the environment as they are an efficient source of clean energy.

Plus, innovative companies like Tesla are making it easier for you to produce and store clean, renewable energy for your home. This is achieved with solar shingles and panels that are modern and designed to mimic the feel of traditional roofing materials to be more aesthetically pleasing, they seem all the more viable.

  • Pros: Renewable energy sources that can reduce electric bills, and have low maintenance costs.
  • Cons: They can be expensive, weather dependent, and solar energy can be costly to store. 
  • House Styles: Thanks to innovative technological updates by the likes of Tesla, solar shingles can now mimic the look of many popular roof styles.
  • Cost and Life Span: They can be as little as $25 a square and when maintained properly, can last 25 years or longer.

The best type of roof for you depends on your climate, budget, and house. To see what’s best in your area, talk with licensed roofing contractors, and look at some of the newer developments nearby to get ideas on what type of roofing material to use.

Regardless of what type of roof you go with, there is always a chance it can be damaged. Roofing can be expensive, so you want to make sure you’re covered when the unexpected happens. Contact us if the worst happens and you need a reliable roof restoration company in your local area. 

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