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It would probably be superfluous to talk about the importance of a roof for a house since this is a well-known fact. However, we insist that the choice of its type and form is just as urgent. And this is not only a matter of design but also the question of functionality and usability of your home. So, let’s learn more about the most common types and shapes of house roofs and their pros and cons. Perhaps this will help you make the right decision when choosing a roof for your future or the present housing.
The Major Roof Groups
Builders and architects talk about dozens of house roof types. This number may seem huge, but if you give them a closer look, you can see they can be divided into three large groups.
- Linear (Flat). These roofs comprise a single piece of material that forms a straight or inclined plane. Such types are the simplest in construction, but they are not always suitable for large and monumental houses.
- Pitched. Roofs that have two or more planes or slopes are more popular. You can see them in most modern and old houses. Homeowners often choose them thanks to their harmonious design and excellent usability.
- Complex (Multi-Component). The architects prefer to single out roofs, consisting of several tops of different shapes with outstanding elements in a separate category. You can see them in large old buildings or modern and exclusive structures. The complex design of the roof adds specific points to the grand exterior, but it does not always provide easy maintenance.
Linear or Flat Roofs
Single-planar roofs differ in their slope and sometimes in the presence of sides.
Literally, such a roof is a single surface that covers the house and is based parallel to the ground. They are typical for modern, postmodern, high-tech residential buildings and commercial structures, including shopping malls.
- They look neat and draw attention to the facade of the house.
- A flat roof can be an excellent base for a patio, observation deck, or outdoor garden.
- A flat roof is handy if you want to install solar panels.
- Poor-quality roofing material can lead to a bigger pool of water on the roof.
- Leaks may be somewhat regular for a flat roof.
- You will have to clean it from the snow all the time in winter.
You can install a flat roof panel under a reasonably steep slope and get a skillion roof. It is quite simple and cheap to install and provides the rapid removal of rainwater and snow from its surface. However, the interior space of a house under the skillion roof may look peculiar because of the difference in the height of the ceilings.
- They can be a great trial balloon for novice builders.
- You save money as you will need a few materials.
- Water and snow go away with no regular cleaning.
- Wrong slope calculations can lead to drainage problems.
- Houses under skillion roofs look too simple and inexpensive.
- Some difficulties with getting overhead utility lines may arise.
The roof of this type is also a solid panel mounted at the top of the house at a particular slope. Shed roofs are appropriate for designing and constructing small country houses, cottages, garages, storm shelters, and verandas and patios.
The pros and cons of sloping roofs are the same as for skillion, but their slope is much less, although it is still visible.
A curved roof looks like part of a circle segment. The proper materials for the structure are concrete, steel, or wood. Today, rounded forms replace traditional straight lines in modern residential construction, combining usability and magnificent decorative and aesthetic properties.
- Classy and fashionable look of your house.
- Efficient drainage of water and snow.
- Excellent wind resistance.
- Calculations and construction of a curved roof are pretty expensive today.
Let your flat roof protrude a few feet beyond the edges of the house, supplement it with a low perimeter barrier, and you will get a parapet roof. It will be a grand discovery for you if you dream of a patio for gatherings with friends and admiring the surroundings. However, installing a parapet will make you fork out a little more.
House roofs of this type can have two, three, or more slopes. The choice of shape depends on the size and design of your house, as well as the exterior design and vision of aesthetics and harmony.
The roof of this type comprises two panels that form an acute angle at the very top and descend almost to the ground. You can see the outline of the letter A if you look at the front of the house full-face. A-roofs create a charming natural vibe, making them popular for fashionable vacation homes, guest cottages, ski bases, and mountain chalets.
- You get more window space in the front and back walls of the house.
- The pooling of snow and water on the roof is impossible.
- Construction and maintenance are among the simplest.
- Storage space in the attic is minimal.
- You will need additional foundation drainage to avoid water pooling around it.
- The walls inside such a house are sloping, and placing furniture and wall decor can become difficult.
A gable roof is what kids usually draw in their pictures when depicting a house. It also includes two slopes converging at an acute angle and forming an inverted letter V. Its construction and maintenance simplicity, along with a reasonably harmonious look, make it a popular solution for rural and modular homes, country cottages, and North American home ranches.
- The gable roof forms a spacious attic for any of your needs.
- Simple design makes it inexpensive to build.
- Removing snow and water from its surface is very convenient for preventing leaks.
- Its wind resistance is negligible.
- You will spend more time arranging proper ventilation.
- The gable roof is not suitable for more respectable and elegant houses.
The slopes of this roof seem slightly broken because they form not a straight but a slightly angular line from the ridge. At the same time, the ridge’s angle is obtuse, which makes it different from a gable roof, where the slopes meet at an acute angle. You could observe such a roof at farmhouses and other structures in rural areas.
- You get more space in the attic for storage or an extra room.
- You can save on supplies since you need not so many of them for a gambrel roof.
- It is easy to build and easy to maintain.
- Excess snow on the roof can cause it to collapse, so you will always have to clean it in winter.
- The roof will leak if there are mistakes in its design and construction.
This type of roof is more complex than gable but still more interesting and harmonious. Its design comprises four triangular slopes that converge from all sides under one typical ridge and form a kind of tent. Hip roofs give the house a more respectable look, so they are often chosen for more impressive brick houses and cottages with a patio.
- Hip roofs are resistant to strong and sometimes even hurricane winds.
- Steep slopes let water and snow slide down freely without the risk of leaks and roof overloads.
- Their look is aesthetic, pleasing, and cozy.
- You have to spend more on the supplies, as you will need many of them for a hip roof.
- Leaks are not regular, but they still happen here.
- Hip roofs require thorough ventilation.
The design of a butterfly roof may come as a surprise to someone, but it is still a reality! Imagine a gable roof turned upside down, and you will get a concave structure with slopes resembling butterfly wings. Such constructions are typical for sunny and arid areas with minimal precipitation.
- You can place solar panels on the butterfly roof or use them to collect rainwater.
- The butterfly roof does not cover the upper windows of the house, and more daylight gets inside.
- These roofs need thorough waterproofing and regular drainage systems cleaning.
The unordinary look of this roof with slopes of different lengths is a sure eye-catcher. The shorter slope of the roof is at its usual level, while the longer one can cover the opposite wall almost to the ground. A saltbox roof is suitable for houses with variable internal stories, although their owners may experience some problems with natural light.
The bonnet roof resembles a hip one but can have two differences. The first is in its length, usually more significant than the width. The second and most crucial difference is a flat perimeter rim that abuts the slopes and is parallel to the ground. The roof often extends outside the house edges, providing a cozy space for a patio.
- Unusual and well-balanced look.
- Excellent sun protection.
- Strong wind resistance.
- You will need more materials for the bonnet roof.
- The construction is tough if you are not a pro.
Roofs of this type have a multi-component structure or an extraordinary shape and therefore are typical for large houses. Let’s take a closer look at some of their varieties.
You may also know this type as the “French roof.” It comprises four rather steep slopes, united by a joint top as a flat surface or a hip. The mansard roof can be blind or have several dormers around the perimeter. Roofs of this type are often found in large old houses and draw a lot of attention thanks to their diverse and sophisticated decor.
- The mansard roof provides the house’s elegant, refined, and individual exterior.
- You can add dormers anytime you want.
- The space under the roof is usually enough for full-fledged living spaces.
- The mansard roof is one of the most expensive in construction and maintenance.
- You must clean it after every snowfall to avoid overloads and leaks.
M-Type Roofs (Multi-Gable)
We suppose you have guessed that this roof resembles the letter M in shape. Indeed, it is formed by two gable roofs, typical for houses with extensions added later. The owners of the homes consider them a very convenient option since the construction work is minimal here.
- It is the most profitable option for duplexes and townhouses, providing a unified and harmonious view of the residential quarter.
- M-type roofs are insensitive to strong wind.
- The valleys between the slopes accumulate debris and sediment, and you must clean them very often.
- The repair and maintenance of M-roofs are pretty expensive and complicated.
These roofs are somewhat similar to the M-Type. However, here we are dealing with several gable roofs tilted to one side and covering several structures. You can see a kind of saw blade if you look at their whole face. Today, architects often choose them when building townhouses. As for the pros and cons, they are the same as those of other multi-gable roofs.
Roofs are combination roofs, where elements of different types are used together. Hip and gable structures are the most common symbiosis for roofs, which you can adapt to a house of any size and shape.
The combination roofs look respectable and contribute to the elegant and monumental look of the house. Their construction and maintenance will cost a lot, but the game is worth the candle!
This is a version of a combination roof with the top of the ridge cut off at the point where the two slopes meet. This results in an extra surface resembling a tent structure. Houses with a jerkinhead roof look more rounded and complete; many find this exterior cozy and welcoming. Besides, it protects the home from rain, snow, and wind with all its reliability, making it a desirable solution despite the complexity of the design.
Dutch Gable (Gablet) Roofs
This type of roof looks more voluminous and complex than a conventional gable roof, thanks to installing another gable peak in the upper part closer to the ridge. This design technique adds visual interest; you have probably seen it in many European houses.
Cross Gable Roof
The design of a cross roof resembles two gable roofs with perpendicular intersections. This view is convenient for a large house with several outbuildings, including a garage.
A vertical window or a dormer in the roof slope shows we are dealing with a mansard roof. You can arrange as many dormers as you like, especially if a living space under the roof requires more natural light.
You may have seen the round dome roofs on many historic buildings. The Capitol is the most striking example. However, their cultural value does not prevent you from constructing the same roof for your house. The dome is rarely used for large buildings, but if you have a spacious home with several wings, it will become an ornament for any of them.
Types of Roof Materials
We can also group roofs based on the materials they are made of. Let’s talk about the most popular supplies for a cozy roof.
The wavy tiles covering the roof and forming a beautiful traditional pattern are the same tiles. Depending on the raw material, the following types of coating are distinguished:
- Clay tiles. It looks expensive and classy, so it becomes an excellent option for the owners of classic, European, or Mediterranean-style houses. Despite its luxurious look and texture, it is still vulnerable to strong wind and hail and needs periodic repairs.
- Aluminum shingles. The metal coating looks a little simpler, but it is more reliable when protecting the house from precipitation and wind. Take care of good sound insulation to avoid rumbling on rainy nights!
- Slate shingles. Heavy and reliable roofing material made of rock proved to be almost eternal for the example of old houses. Roofs made of slate tiles are difficult to install, but you can forget any troubles, including wind gusts and leaks.
- Asphalt and fiberglass shingles. These tiles are the most popular today because they are a harmonious combination of durability and various colors and patterns at an affordable price. Its use for houses of any style is another bonus.
A wooden roof needs a careful selection of timber, and cedar, mahogany, or pine are still popular options. You can consider the material for covering a country, rustic, or chalet-style house, although it is in harmony with more modern designs.
Polyvinyl chloride is a choice for the owners of houses with flat roofs. The thermoplastic material is applied in a single layer with further hot welding along the perimeter. You get a reliable waterproof coating without unnecessary seams.
Rubber EPDM is another option for flat roof coverings. It is denser and more durable, which makes it a suitable solution for areas with regular thunderstorms, winds, and hail.
Now you know the most common types of roofs and materials for them. We hope our list will give you more ideas and inspiration for building a house. Note that it is impossible to say which type of roof is better. Focus on the project and the size of your design, purse, wishes, and imagination. Knowing the types of roofing is just a starting point for more creative ideas!