The two most popular roof types in the United States are hip roofs and gable roofs. (Third place likely goes to flat roofs, which can be found on Modernist houses and Southwestern Pueblo-style homes.) Understanding the differences between hip roofs and gable roofs is helpful for people looking around for a house as well as homeowners who want to provide proper maintenance on their home and roofing.
What is a Hip Roof?
A hip roof has slopes on all sides that meet at the top. There is no flat side. The "hips" are the where the sides meet each other. At the top, they may meet together at a single point like a pyramid or the roof will have a ridge on the top.
The Pros of a Hip Roof
Historically, hip roofs have been a part of American home architecture since the 18th and 19th centuries, especially on plantation style homes in the South. They became much more widespread in the 1950s as an option on bungalows and ranch-style homes. They are also common on Mediterranean-style homes. In areas vulnerable to tropical storms, they are especially popular for their wind-resistant construction.
Here are some of the pros of a hip roof:
- Their design makes them better able to withstand high winds and hurricanes.
- Walls have the same height.
- A continuous eave allows for effective water drainage from a single gutter system.
- They showcase roofing materials, which can be viewed from all angles.
- People often consider this style of roof more aesthetically pleasing compared with gable roofing.
The Cons of a Hip Roof
- They are more complex to build.
- They require more time and more materials leading to higher costs for construction.
- Ventilating the attic is challenging.
- There is less attic space.
- Natural light can be harder to bring in.
- They can be prone to leaks.
- They have more seams that can be damaged.
What Roofing Material Should I Choose for my Hip Roof?
Hip roofs work well with asphalt shingles, slate shingles, metal sheets, as well as clay tiles or concrete.
What is a Gable Roof?
When many of us imagine a home in our minds, we see a square with a triangle sitting on top. This is basically what a gable roof is. It is a roof with two sides meeting at the top. The triangle this creates is what we call the "gable". It is the most common roof design in the United States.
The Pros of a Gable Roof
The gable roof has shown up from the beginning of American history to the modern day and has taken many forms. It shows up on New England saltbox homes as well as Queen Anne-style, Tudor-style, Craftsman, Colonial-style homes, and more. The pitch can range widely based on the style of the home from the low pitch of a Craftsman to the high pitch of an A-Frame.
What are some of the pros of a gable roof?
- They can have a steep pitch to help shed snow or water
- They are easy to ventilate
- Easy ventilation can help with energy-efficiency
- The design of the pitch can provide good attic space
- They are often cheaper to build than other styles like hip roofs
The Cons of a Gable Roof
- High winds can severely damage gable roofs
- Gable roofs are less structurally sound than hip roofs
- Roofing materials are less visible and contribute less aesthetically
What Roofing Material Should I Select for My Gable Roof?
Common choices for gable roofs include asphalt shingles, metal roofing, slate, and wood shakes. All of these are good options for this style of roof.