Roof types aren’t something many of us think about day-to-day. But when you’re in the process of designing or building a new house or roof, it can be all you think about.
While the most popular roof types in the U.S. are hip and gable, architects and builders have a lot of leeway to provide a creative selection of roof types.
Gable roofs are also known as peaked or pitched roofs, easily denoted by their triangular shape. They are fantastic for getting rid of water and snow, and provide that much-needed space for attic conversions, vaulted ceilings and extra room for ventilation. The simplicity of the gable roof design also means cheaper building costs than more complex options. They also come in various forms, including:
Gable roofs are very versatile and can be made with nearly every variation of material, such as terracotta, metal, concrete and asphalt. However, they could prove problematic in areas of high wind and those that are prone to hurricanes.
High winds can actually cause roof collapse when substantial supports are absent, and can also force materials to separate from the gable. On the flip side, if the gable roof overhangs too much, the wind can detach the roof from the walls.
With a hip roof, all sides are also equal in size and length, but four sides form the ridge where they meet at the top. Hip roofs are more stable, given the four sides add to durability and sturdiness. This makes them great choices for high wind — contrary to gable roofs — and snowy areas, and they can also offer increased living space. Like gable roofs, hip roofs can be covered in almost every type of material.
However, they are more expensive to build than standard gable roofs. Why? The design is more complex and requires more resources. Furthermore, when dormers are present, the increase of seams makes leaks more likely.
Flat roofs are, of course, flat — but new materials appearing on the market make them more durable. Some can last up to 25 years.
Built-up roofs, for example, are the more traditional design and are made of hot tar and gravel. This makes them cheap and fire-retardant, but it also makes them very heavy, smelly and messy to install.
Modified bitumen is a single-ply roof that has a mineral-based wear surface. The peel-and-stick application associated with them is user-friendly and reflects heat, cutting energy bills. However, they are not scuff- or tear-resistant.
Rubber membrane flat roofs are also durable and user-friendly. Leaks are easy to patch, and they are resistant to scuffs and other marks; but they also absorb more heat and are vulnerable to punctures.
Gable roofs are popular for a reason, and while other roofs also offer certain benefits unique to them, gables cut a good compromise between cost and functionality.