Finding the right types of roofing for your house is challenging. It all comes down to your family's budget, home's architecture, local climate, and personal maintenance expectations. Simply put, the choice you make today will have an impact on your life and pocket tomorrow. To make your decision easier here is the extensive list of different roof types and styles with pictures to make your choice a bit easier.
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Picture an inverted V and you've got yourself a clear idea of how gable roofs are shaped. These triangle-shaped roofs are very popular and distinguished for their medium to high pitch. No wonder why they are also called peaked or pitched roofs.
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Pros: Thanks to the slanted sides of this roof type, snow and rain water shed easier preventing leaks and thus water damage. The rather simple design makes installation easy and cost-effective. But since the final price depends on a number of variables (size, slope, location, roof material etc.), it's best to get an estimate from a roofing pro.
Cons: The higher the pitch, the more unsuitable gable roof shapes are to regions, which experience hurricanes and high winds. In case of excessive overhang, the roof might get detached from the walls or collapse without appropriate framing. Although pitched roofs create attic space, some parts might be too low to make these rooms livable.
Popular gable roof materials: Concrete & clay tiles, asphalt, metal, and cedar shakes are often used for the traditional types of gable roof construction. But if this is a combo roof with hips and valleys too, it's best to use standing seam or metal shingles.
There is more to gable types of roofing. Since their pitch and overhang vary, not all gable roofs are the same. Which are the most common variations?
This is the all-time classic type with two equal sides and it breaks down to two more variations.
- The open gable roof: the triangle section is open.
- The box gable roof: the triangle section is enclosed.
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It consists of two or more sections (of the same or different lengths and pitches) which intersect at a particular angle and are perpendicular to each other.
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Picture a gable roof placed on top of a hip roof. That's the Dutch gable roof style.
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This is the roof featuring at the entrance of the building and broadly seen in Colonial style homes. The interesting part is that you can also install false-front gable roofs, which will actually serve only aesthetic purposes.
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In spite of their name, flat roofs are slightly sloped to enable water to run off. Although they are broadly used for the construction of commercial buildings, they have become popular for residences too due to their contemporary appeal. But you know what else? Flat roofs allow you to use them and create a garden.
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Pros: Since it has no slopped sides, the flat roof will cost less and won't occupy outdoor living space. On top of that, it creates livable space and room for solar panels.
Cons: Flat roofs are not the best choice for regions with heavy rains and snow because they can leak. They might need regular maintenance costing more in the long run.
Popular flat roof materials: To avoid water leaks, it's best to use PVC, rubber membrane, metal sheets, tar and gravel, and similar strong flat roofing materials.
Hip roofs have four sides of equal size which are connected to form a ridge. These roof types compete with gables for the title of the most sought-after roof styles. They add extra architectural appeal with dormers.
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Pros: They are resistant to high winds, an excellent choice for areas with heavy snowfall, and create additional indoor space.
Cons: The design is complex and the installation is difficult. It is a rather expensive roofing option and requires expert construction and regular maintenance for the avoidance of leaks, especially if there are dormers. And so you need to find pros with experience in building and installing these roof types.
Popular hip roof materials: You can choose any roof material, ranging from asphalt to tiles and metal.
Hip roof types:
The two sides form a triangle and the other two sides form a polygon, and they all come together to form a ridge.
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There are hip roofs over different wings of the house and the section where they meet is known as a valley.
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This is a regular hip roof with two sides shortened to create space for gutters. Half hipped roofs are also known as Dutch hip.
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The pyramid hip roof variation stands on a rectangular or square base while the sides slope downwards to meet the walls.
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The distinctive feature of A-frame roofs is that they come all the way down to the ground while the two steeped sides meet at the peak. The roof design plans are popular for the construction of churches, cottages, and homes. The sides of the roof actually become the walls of the structure.
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Pros: They are great for areas with high rainfall & snowfall, and inexpensive to build. They have become more popular lately because they are easier to make than siding and thanks to their distinctive A-shape 1950s looks.
Cons: These types of roofs tend to shrink the indoor space while it's hard to find professionals with the skills to build these styles successfully.
Popular a-frame roof materials: The most common materials are wood and stone.
This type of roof can be considered a hybrid since it uses elements of both the hip and gable styles. Imagine a gable roof with hip ends which are cut short and point downwards. This style is also known as clipped gable or English hip.
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Pros: It adds architectural interest and provides more indoor space than hip roofs and greater stability than gable roofs.
Cons: The design is neither easy to build nor install, and so it is a rather expensive roof type.
Popular jerkinhead roof materials: The sky is the limit. From metal to shingles, you can select any roofing material.
The design has no symmetry since one side of the roof has a regular slope and the other side is dramatically slanted. It's ideal for vaulted ceilings and a distinguished architectural appeal.
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Pros: The slope of the roof makes water runoff easily and so you avoid leaks. The possibility of adding a mezzanine due to the space created is also a plus.
Cons: It's not easy to build and this will increase the cost.
Popular saltbox roof materials: Most roofing materials can be used.
Similar to Saltbox, Catslide roofs extend beyond the building's eaves covering the home entrance or a back addition.
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Pros: It creates depth without increasing the ridge. It allows you to build add-ons and have the same roof covering the house and the extension.
Cons: It's not cheap to build a Catslide roof since it's a complex design and requires more materials.
Popular catslide roof materials: You can use nearly all materials.
It is also known as lean-to roof and has a single panel attached to the taller wall of the structure. It resembles a flat roof, only more angled. Or the side of a medium pitched roof. They are often used in combination with other roof styles or to cover sheds, porches, and other additional living spaces.
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Pros: Thanks to the steep pitch, rainwater and snow run off easily. Are there more reasons for choosing this style? It's modern, is reasonably priced since fewer materials are needed for the construction, and provides space for solar panels.
Cons: They are not the best option for areas with high winds. Also, if the pitch is too steep, sections of your indoor will be lower.
Popular skillion roof materials: Standing seam is the best choice followed by shingles and tiles.
Ideal for modern architectures, these types of roofs can be slightly curved or arch-shaped.
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Pros: Due to the unusual shape, they can easily make a home stand out and either cover a section or the entire house. The flexibility, to choose how curved the roof would be, gives you the freedom for customized solutions. If your area experiences rainfall often, opt for dramatic curves. If there are high winds, choose lower slopes.
Cons: The level of the curve and the design will define the price. And such styles do not often come cheap.
Popular curved roof materials: Metal is the best material for curved roofs since it can be easily bent to any shape you like.
This is a complex roof style featuring two slopes on four different sides. The upper slope of each side is low pitched while the lower slope is highly steeped to seem nearly vertical. As for the sides, they can be either curved or flat. Mansard is also known as curb or French roof.
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Pros: If you fancy the idea of investing in a roof style that would resemble the Louvre museum, Mansard is for you. Seriously now, these types of roofs leave plenty of living space in the house which is also known as garret. You also have the opportunity to make additions in the future and incorporate dormers. And all these things result in increased home value too.
Cons: Low pitched sections are not suitable for regions that receive heavy snowfall and so you will need to pay extra to waterproof for an already expensive style. So talk to your contractor about it.
Popular mansard roof materials: You have several options, ranging from slate and wood shingles to metal, and cement and clay tiles.
It's Mansard's cousin with one difference: Gambrel has two instead of four sides.
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Pros: This style also provides lots of living space in the house and thus plenty of opportunities to make changes and home additions as you see fit in the future. It's rather easy to build and needs fewer building materials resulting in a low cost.
Cons: The design is not recommended in windy areas because it could collapse under pressure. You need to invest in proper insulation and ventilation because this style is susceptible to the formation of ice dams which in turn can result in leaks.
Popular gambrel roof materials: The best materials for gambrel roofs are slate shingles, asphalt, metal, and wood.
This style is similar to Gambrel but features two angled sides.
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Pros: The design of this roof keeps ice from building-up and thus leaks will not be a problem.
Cons: It's still not the best type for high winds.
Popular rainbow roof materials: Asphalt, wood, metal, and slate shingles are the best materials for this style.
If you take a Mansard roof and reverse it, you have a Bonnet roof. It is also called kicked eaves and features four sides with the upper slope being steeper than the lower slope. This provides cover over the porch of the house.
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Pros: Due to the steep upper slope, you get plenty of space indoors and possibly a vaulted ceiling. You can add windows and dormers while the overhanging lower slope protects the house from water leaks.
Cons: It demands plenty of building materials and expertise in construction. In other words, it's expensive. The valleys created between the slopes might keep snow and water from running off and thus you need to waterproof these sections.
Popular bonnet roof materials: Any material will be good for this style.
If you take a gable roof and multiply it by two, you get an M-shaped style. This type has two sides resting on the walls and two sloped panels meeting in between to form an M shape.
Image credit: Maxim Denisenko for Bokarev Architects
Pros: It's an interesting design, which can make residential complexes or commercial properties appealing since this motif can be repeated multiple times in a row.
Cons: Although there is gutter running between the two slopes, heavy rainfall and snowfall might still create a pool of water and thus leaks. So, it's imperative to invest in the best gutter system and annual inspections.
Popular m-shaped roof materials: This is actually a multi-gable style and thus you can choose nearly any material you want.
It's easy to imagine this type just by its name. It has an open V shape and resembles the wings of a butterfly as she flies away. It looks like an inverted gable roof with the slopes meeting in a valley.
Image credit: Rick Joy Architect
Pros: The walls are taller and thus you have plenty of space to build large windows that will bring more natural light indoors and thus save energy. The odd style enables the installation of solar panels and water collection systems and hence they are excellent solutions in drought regions.
Cons: Not only does this type cost more than other standard styles but it will cost you extra to place a water collection and not let water pool in the valley.
Popular butterfly roof materials: To keep the roof watertight, it's wise to select membrane without seams or metal.
Conical & Polygonal Roof
Conical styles are circular while their polygonal counterparts feature multiple sides. The number of pitched slopes of the polygonal roofs actually define their name. Gazebos usually have hexagonal roofs. In other words, six slopes. Octagonal roofs feature eight slopes. Both polygonal and conical roofs feature mostly in churches, castles, towers, and gazebos.
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Pros: They are impressive and water runs off easily.
Cons: They are hard to build, especially if we are talking about polygonal roofs, and so they are not cheap.
Popular hexagonal roof materials: Shingles and slate are the best choices for conical roofs while metal will be a good option for polygonal styles.
The special feature of these structures is the tall interior wall, which extends above the height of one roof to create a difference between two levels and thus enable the incorporation of multiple windows.
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Pros: It's an energy efficient type due to the presence of many windows above eye-level which also increases security and privacy.
Cons: It demands great attention during construction and window installation so that you can enjoy the sun but keep rain out.
Popular clerestory roof materials: Nearly all materials are suitable for this roof style.
Just close your eyes and picture the teeth of a saw blade. That's how these roofs look like. They are actually the repetition of more or less the Clerestory pattern: slope, wall, slope, wall…
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Pros: This is one more eco-friendly roof since it enables heat and light to penetrate the structure and creates a lofty feeling due to the vaulted ceilings.
Cons: Construction and installation both require precision. So, you need to find an experienced and licensed contractor. On top of that, this style demands many building materials and good waterproofing for the avoidance of leaks through the valleys. In other words, it's an expensive solution.
Popular sawtooth roof materials: The best choices are metal, wood, and concrete.
It looks like a bowl ups-and-down and is often used to cover gazebos and similar structures, but it's an excellent type of roof for houses too.
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Pros: A dome adds drama and room space and is durable.
Cons: It's expensive to build unless you opt for prefabricated options, which cost much less.
Popular dome roof materials: Although the material broadly used is metal shingles, you can also use regular ones or even glass to make your home environmentally friendly.
Combo roofs are ideal for houses with several wings and multiple levels. The idea is to have a different type of roof over each wing or level to make the structure more interesting and appealing.
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Pros: It's a smart choice if you love more than one roof styles or want to take advantage of the benefits of different types.
Cons: It will cost you more and will require pros with experience in all roofing types you choose. Another drawback is the valleys created when different roofs are joined and thus the increased possibility of water pooling in these sections.
Popular combination roofs materials: You choose the material based on the roof type you order.
Having a roof over your head is one thing; having a roof that won't leak or need repairs often is a completely different story. Installing a new roof will cost you. The least you can do is get the best value for your money. So your main considerations should be the weather conditions in your area that will determine the pitch and hence bring you a step closer to the roof style you need. Consider the installation requirements, the cost of materials, and the style you want to narrow even more your choices. It's a hard decision but with so many types of roofs, chances are you won't have trouble placing a roof over your own house.