A Designer’s Guide to 8 Different Types of Roofs

Have you ever wondered why the pyramids are still intact when other structures, like the Colosseum, have crumbled over time?

It’s because the triangle is the strongest shape in architecture, and explains why this form features prominently in bridge and roof designs.

You don’t need to stick to the conventional triangular roof shapes in your designs though, most roof trusses maintain a strong triangular shape regardless of what’s going on above them.

Bearing this in mind, let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of different types of roofs to help you decide how to pick one that’s attractive, strong, and functional for your client’s needs.

1. Gable, Dutch Gable, and Clipped Gable Roofs

These types of roofs are the kind of roofs children draw in art class when they’re very young. It has two sides sloping up to a common ridge above a rectangular house.

A clipped gable roof has two sides reaching up to a shorter ridge and a hip on either end, so it’s a roof with two long sides and two short sides.

Dutch gable roofs have a mini gable roof on top of the main roof, to create a double-decker appearance.

2. Barn-Style Gambrel Roofs

These are the best types of roofs for homeowners who want a lot of attic space. The two sides have steep slopes reaching up from the house walls that taper off to the roof ridge, leaving ample space for additional rooms above the main house.

Gambrel roofs are the type of roofs used on the classic rural red barns with white trim.

3. Traditional Hipped Roofs

Hipped roofs are the most common types of roofs in suburban areas due to their practical, cost-effective design. These are the classic four-sided roofs that slope up towards each other over a rectangular-shaped house.

A variation of the hipped roof, hip and valley roofs feature several hipped roofs joined at an angle to accommodate buildings with extra rooms jutting out from the main rectangular shape.

Usually, the fewer sides to a roof, the better they’ll stand up to high winds.

According to this article, https://prr247.com/15-tips-for-choosing-the-best-roofing-company/, a roof replacement can cost your client over $10,000. So, it’s best to opt for a sturdy two-sided gable roof in hurricane-prone areas.

4. French-Inspired Mansard Roof

The Louvre in Paris has a mansard roof. It’s basically, a four-sided gambrel roof with four steep sides topped with four gentler slopes angled to a point.

The very steep sides can have a curved or flat design.

All the extra joins and surfaces can mean your client’s in for more maintenance tasks if they opt for this type of roof.

5. Classic Dormer Roofs 

Dormers are an attractive and functional addition to any roof. They consist of two walls jutting out from the main building with a window in front and a small gable roof on top.

A dormer helps create more space in the existing attic space and also adds light and headroom.

One drawback of dormers is their propensity to leak where they join with the main house.

6. Different Types of Roofs for a Modern Look

Flat roofs and shed roofs are a popular choice among homeowners wanting a contemporary home. Flat roofs always have a slight slope to accommodate water runoff while shed roofs feature a more acute slope.

Skillion and lean-to roofs are a variation of these angled roofs. Lean-to roofs are like patio roofs with no walls beneath them, while skillion roofs are a combination of slanted shed roofs at different angles to one another.

Metal’s one of the most appropriate roofing materials for these roofs as it complements their futuristic style.

The steep gradients in these roofs can result in reduced headroom and they don’t stand up well to storms.

7. Roofs With a Butterfly Design

Butterfly roofs are another modern design that looks like butterfly wings from the outside. These roofs form an inverted triangle, with the higher sides of the roof sloping down to a lower central ridge.

These types of roofs are good for collecting rainwater, but they don’t stand up to snow very well. During a heavy storm, snow can collect in the roof’s V-shape and it could collapse from the weight.

They’re also difficult to install, making them an expensive choice.

8. Unusual Salt Box Roofs

These are popular types of roofs in New England and came about when early settlers started adding lean-to’s on top of their existing homes to create more space.

This design created extra room in their homes at a cheaper cost than building another floor.

The result was a home with one steep side to the roof sloping up to a point and then down for a shorter distance to end above the half-sized second story.

The steep slope allows for enhanced run-off during rainy periods and adds extra storage or accommodation to the home, but they’re expensive to build and don’t offer as much space as gambrel roofs.

Weighing Up the Design Pros and Cons

The different types of roofs and roofing materials all come with their pros and cons, so your main consideration is deciding which aspects are more important to you.

If the aesthetic aspects of one type of roof justify the cost, then that’s a good fit for your design, but if your client’s dead set on practicality over style, you might have to get a little more creative in your efforts.

Fortunately, modern advancements mean the sky’s the limit when it comes to roofing styles, materials, and designs.

Keep browsing our blog for more information on everything to do with architectural design, from the roof down.

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