All About Roofing Styles — Compare the Pros and Cons of 14 Types of Roofs

With so many roof styles how do you determine which will work best for your location’s weather conditions, your taste and your price limit? Weigh the pros and cons of 14 different roof styles — this list will help you determine your preferences and choose a roof for your next home.

Pros and cons of different types of house roofs

Here are the types of roofs we discuss in this article:

  1. Gable or Pitched Roof
  2. Hip Roof
  3. Jerkinhead, aka English Hip or Clipped Gable Roof
  4. Gambrel or Barn Roof
  5. Flat Roof
  6. Mansard or French Roof
  7. Bonnet or Kicked-Eaves Roof
  8. Skillion, Lean-to or Shed Roof
  9. Butterfly Roof
  10. Saltbox Roof
  11. Sawtooth Roof
  12. Curved Roof
  13. Dome Roof
  14. Combination Roof

Compare the Pros and Cons of 14 Roof Types

1. Gable Roof

A Gable Roof has a peaked or pitched roof with a triangular shape and is probably one of the most popular roof styles in the US. You can use almost any type of material for this style roof, including asphalt, wood, metal and tiles. This style also works on almost any pitch (slope or steepness) roof.

Roof Styles

Types:

  • Side Gable is a typical gable roof with two equal angled panels that meet at a ridge in the middle.
  • Open Gable sits flush with the walls and is open.
  • Boxed Gable is enclosed and the roof hangs over the walls with built triangular cut-outs that sit on top of the walls.
  • Crossed Gable has two ridges perpendicular to each other with two gabled roof sections assembled at a right angle. This is common for homes with wings and also on Cape Cods and Tudor style homes.
  • Front Gable is just that—a gable placed at the front of the home and is typical for Colonial style homes.
  • Dutch Gable is a hybrid of two different style roofs, the gable and the hip roof. The gable is placed at the top of a hip roof which is not only prettier, but allows for more space and easier access to the lower portion of the roof.

Pros:

  • Snow and rain water easily glide off the roof
  • This style roof gives room for attic or vaulted ceilings
  • Allows for more ventilation
  • Easy to build and cost effective

Cons:

  • May have problems in hurricane or high wind areas if there isn't enough support (can lead to collapse) or if there is too much overhang (wind lift)
  • The ends of the home have no shade or cover

2. Hip Roof

A Hip Roof has a slope towards the walls on all four sides (no vertical sides) which are all equal in length and come together to form a ridge at the top. You can use just about any type of material in a hip roof.

Types:

  • Simple Hip is the most common with a polygon on two sides, a triangle on the other two sides and all sides come together at the top.
  • Cross Hipped uses separate hip roofs on a home with wings. Where the two roofs meet is called a valley which can cause water to puddle so it must be waterproofed.
  • Half Hipped is the standard hip roof with two shortened sides that create eaves (the overhang of the roof).
  • Pyramid Roof is where all four sides come to a point at the top of the roof with no gables or vertical sides. This style is mostly on smaller buildings and is great for high wind areas.

Pros:

  • More stable and durable because it has inward slops on all sides
  • Good for high wind areas
  • The slope allows snow and rain to glide off easily so it’s good for rainy or snowy areas
  • Because of the design it’s easy to add extra living space by constructing a lookout, dormer, extra attic storage or vaulted ceilings

Cons:

  • More expensive than a gabled roof because it is more complex and requires more materials
  • Doesn’t get proper air circulation so many need different ventilation options

3. Jerkinhead, English Hip or Clipped Gable Roof

A Jerkinhead (AKA English Hip or Clipped Gable) Roof is mostly gable roof with hipped ends and has a vintage flair to it.

Pros:

  • More stable — by turning the point down the roof becomes stronger against wind damage
  • Provides more space with the higher pitch allowing for more living area
  • Has a lot of character

Con:

  • Higher cost due to complexity

4. Gambrel or Barn Roof

A Gambrel or Barn Roof has only two sides with two different slopes — a steep slope and a lower slope.

Pros:

  • Can provide extra living space
  • Lower price due to less materials needed

Cons:

  • Not recommended for areas with a lot of wind or snow due to the open design. Wind and snow can cause issues with the roof collapsing but reinforced trusses can be added for extra support
  • Needs waterproofing at the ridges along with regular maintenance

5. Flat Roof

Flat Roofs (or low-sloped roofs) are not typically 100% flat and have a slight pitch for water runoff with a flat appearance.

Pros:

  • Extra living space on the roof (such as a garden and outdoor living)
  • Can hide HVAC, solar panels, or other unsightly items
  • Potential to cost less because they require fewer building materials

Cons:

  • More chance of water leaks
  • Chance of water pooling, mold, bacteria, etc., although this can be solved with drainage
  • Not good for areas with a lot of rain or snow

6. Mansard or French Roof

A Mansard or French Roof has four sides with a double slope on each side that meet and form a low-pitched roof with the lower slope being much steeper. Depending on the style the sides can either be flat or curved.

Compare types of roofs

Types:

  • Straight angle
  • Convex (curved outward)
  • Concave (curved inward)

Pros:

  • Can create more usable living space
  • Flexible for future home additions
  • Can add character with details and embellishments such as wood quoins, trim and decorative stone

Cons:

  • The low-pitched section isn’t good for snow
  • Needs extra waterproofing measures to prevent leaks
  • Can cost more than typical roofs because of the details
  • Can be difficult framing this style roof

7. Bonnet or Kicked-Eaves Roof

A Bonnet or Kicked-Eaves Roof has two slopes on all sides with the lower slope hanging over the side of the house and the upper slope having more of an angle. This style is not very common anymore. It’s a reverse of the Mansard.

Pros:

  • The overhang can provide shelter for a porch
  • Water easily runs off and the overhang protects the walls from water issues
  • Very durable
  • The upper slope is good for vaulted ceilings or an attic space

Cons:

  • Needs more materials so it's more expensive and a bit difficult to build
  • Has some valleys which causes water to pool so you must waterproof

8. Skillion, Lean-to or Shed Roof

A Skillion Roof, Lean-to or Shed Roof is a single-pieced, single sloped roof that’s attached to a wall. Typical for home additions and porches, although it can be seen used on the entire home for more modern styles.

Pros:

  • Less building materials and easier to construct
  • Snow and rain run off easily
  • Modern style

Cons:

  • If the pitch is too high then the ceiling inside could be too low on one side
  • May have issues in areas with high wind
  • Ventilation could be an issue so you may need to include a soffit/ridge venting system

9. Butterfly Roof

The Butterfly Roof is V shaped and the two pieces meet in the valley.

Pros:

  • Very big style and character
  • The valley in the roof allows rain to be collected from the runoff making it ideal for drought-stricken areas. You can collect the runoff water by installing a downspout that leads to a rain barrel.
  • Environmentally and Eco-friendly with space for windows with natural light and solar panels

Cons:

  • Rainwater pools in the middle which can cause issues so good drainage is needed
  • Expensive

10. Saltbox Roof

A Saltbox Roof is used when the front of the home has two stories and the back has only one story — resembling the profile of an old salt box. It has one side with a slightly sloping flat roof and the other side has a dramatic angle.

Compare styles of roofs

Pros:

  • The rear roof extends almost to the ground making it great for avoiding leaks and rainwater runoff
  • Provides more wind resistance
  • Asymmetrical for those who like the design
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Rooms on the back side have ceilings that slant down very low
  • Because the design is complex the cost is higher to build

11. Sawtooth Roof

A Sawtooth Roof was originally seen on industrial style buildings but are becoming common on modern residential homes. The roof resembles a saw blade with the slopes and the walls alternating (slope, wall, slope, wall, slope, wall).

Pros:

  • Very impactful design
  • Windows can go on the wall portion of the roof for natural heat and light
  • The higher peaks allow for vaulted ceilings or lofts
  • The slope and valleys create opportunity for rainwater collection

Cons:

  • Very complex and expensive
  • High maintenance
  • Because of the valleys, windows, slopes, etc., there is a higher chance of leaking so it’s not good for heavy snow areas

12. Curved Roof

A Curved Roof is similar to the Skillion (a single-pieced, single sloped roof that’s attached to a wall) but curved. It has a modern, unique design.

Pros:

  • Unique design meaning your home will really stand out!
  • Allows for unique wall shapes inside the home
  • You can make the curve custom to your weather condition needs
  • Very durable and works well in high-wind areas

Cons:

  • Possibly complex
  • Expensive

13. Dome Roof

A Dome Roof is polygonal with an inverted bowl style shape.

Pros:

  • Unique and stylish
  • Durable
  • Can save money with prefab options

Cons:

  • Complex
  • Expensive

14. Combination Roof

A Combination Roof is a mix of different roof designs and styles on the same structure for a custom appeal and for functional reasons.

Pros:

  • Unique and interesting style
  • Allows you to get the best use of each style for different sections of the home (porch, living area, etc.) and really customizes the look of your home

Cons:

  • Costs can add up and become expensive
  • Joining different roof styles can add more valleys and ridges to create weak areas where leaves can build up and water can pool and leak
  • Mismatched styles can look unappealing if not done correctly

All about roofs

The design of your roof plays a major role in the overall style of your home. Once you decide which style is best for your home (aesthetically and practically) make sure to check building code to confirm that it's allowed in your area. If you have a Home Owners' Association it's also a good idea to check the covenants of your neighborhood to make sure it's within architectural guidelines.

You should also research the recommended pitch for your specific region to determine what will work best. For example, snowy regions may not do well with flat style roofs as the weight of the snow and ice could create roof damage.

Once your ideal roof is in place, make sure to add regular maintenance (such as keeping your roof clear from debris) to your list of to-do's ensuring your roof lasts a long time. Happy roof hunting!

If you're still unsure, play the Home Pinwheel Game to find out what home style you prefer!

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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Ready To Become A Smarter Homebuyer?

By signing up, you agree to Nestiny terms of use .
Whether you need a step-by-step guide, video resource or one of our many helpful tools, Nestiny has your back 24/7 for all things home buying and selling. You choose the pace, material, and when and where to learn. Unlock your free access to Nestiny today!
Are you a real estate professional? Go here .
By clicking this button, you'll enjoy free unlimited access to Nestiny and agree to our terms of use . And don't worry! Nestiny will not share your information with any parties without your consent.