Articles » A Description of the More Common Styles of Roofs; Gable, Mansard, Dutch Colonial, Gambrel, Flat, Shed and Salt Box

A Description of the More Common Styles of Roofs; Gable, Mansard, Dutch Colonial, Gambrel, Flat, Shed and Salt Box

Tags: Roofing, Replacement, Installation

Roofs form a protective layer over homes, and they are as architecturally diverse as the many buildings that are covered. The residential industry is known for its complex designs, and some styles appear again in different styles and with their own pitch. Here are some of the most common residential roof designs.

Gable: Gable roofs are very popular and are rather simple in the most basic form. Gable roofs are known for their peaks at the center ridge. The roofs slope away from the center ridge towards the exterior walls at the same pitch. The ends are referred to as gable ends and look like a big triangle. Dormers may be added to the roofs and are miniature gables that are perpendicular to the main structure. Because dormers usually have a window, they allow more light into a home. In addition, dormers are an ideal way to create extra space in the upstairs.

Cross Gable: Cross gables are like two different gable roofs that have been put together. The distinguishing feature of a cross gable roof is that there are two ridge lines that are perpendicular. The ridges may be at the same height, or they can be at different levels. Cross-gabled roofs are usually found on homes that have several wings that are joined together. The cross gables form what looks like a triangle at the front of each wing.

Mansard: Mansard roofs are like a gable roof, but there are two distinct pitches. Usually the lower portion of the roof has a steep pitch, and the top is at less of an angle. This style is named in honor of a French architect who pioneered the design in Paris, France. At the time, there was a building code that required single-story buildings in the city. The code was enacted to provide firemen access to all areas of the roof. To get around the code, Mansard brought the shingle level down to the first story, and his clients built homes that were multi-story yet in compliance with the local ordinance.

Dutch Colonial: Dutch colonial homes are very similar to Mansard roofs and were actually designed to address many of the same concerns. The roofs feature a steep pitch at the bottom. At the middle of the roof, there is a marked change in pitch, and the Dutch Colonial roof is not as steep at the top. Often, the Dutch Colonial style is characterized by winged gable ends. The roofs were very common in the 1920s and 30s and were first designed to avoid taxes. Because there was an extra tax on two-story homes, architects developed the Dutch Colonial as a single-story home.

Gambrel: Gambrel roofs are more common on barns, and they are often referred to as barn roofs. Homes that have a gambrel roof look a lot like a Mansard, but the pitch change is reversed. At the exterior wall, the roof is low-pitched, and it gets steeper towards the ridge line. The gambrel also has vertical walls at each gable end. Gambrel roofs are inspired by Dutch architecture, and a Dutch Colonial design is one specialized type.

Flat Roof: A flat roof is more common on commercial buildings, but Spanish Revival homes often feature the same style. A flat roof is flat and is one of the easiest styles to identify. Several benefits are associated with a flat roof, and minimal construction costs are just one. Flat roofs are ideal because they are accessible. Many homeowners design flat roofs with a deck. A home with a widow’s walk is a type of flat roof that usually has four gable or hip sides around the upper portion of the roof.

Saltbox: Saltboxes are a specialized type of gable roof. A typical gable roof has the same pitches on either side, and both exterior walls are usually at the same height. Saltboxes feature two different pitches on either side of the ridge line. In addition, a saltbox traditionally moves from a second floor exterior wall on one side to a single floor exterior wall on the other.

Shed Roof: A shed roof is easy to visualize as a flat roof that has been raised on one side. Shed roofs only have a single pitch and are named in honor of the storage areas that are often attached to a home.

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