Hip, mansard, skillion, gable, gambrel: With so many roof options, it can be tough deciding which roof type to choose. The gambrel roof style takes on a classic Americana feel with some additional perks, making it a style worth considering for your home, shed or garage. Consider the specifics of this roof type to decide if it's right for your next project.
What Is a Gambrel Roof?
Picture a barn roof with its distinct profile. That's essentially what a gambrel roof looks like. It has two sides, much like the simple, traditional gable roof, but the gambrel roof has two different slopes on each of the two sides.
The smaller upper portion of the roof where it peaks has a much lower slope. The bottom portion of the roof has a very steep slope, so it's almost vertical. Each of the sides are symmetrical to give the structure a balanced look.
The gambrel roof is similar to the mansard roof, which also has two different slopes. The main difference between the two is that the mansard roof has four different sides, just like a hip roof does, while the gambrel has just two. Both have similar benefits with a slightly different finished look.
Easy to Build
The relatively simple design of a gambrel roof makes it easier to build than roofs with lots of peaks and valleys or more complex designs. Most gambrel roofs use two beams with gusset joints to create the structure. That means the job goes much faster, and roofers can build it easily without worrying about as many different angles and pieces coming together just right.
Cost Effective Roof Design
Because of the simple design and the limited support pieces, the gambrel roof is often an affordable option. Your roofer can build it relatively easily, which keeps labor costs low. The structure takes less material to make, which also helps lower the overall costs. You get a unique-looking roof without the hefty investment that often comes with more complicated designs.
Classic, Traditional Style
The classic shape of this style of roof gives homes a distinct, traditional look that fits on many different styles of homes. It's common on farmhouses, Dutch Colonial and Georgian-style homes. When you opt for this roof, you give your home that sense of heritage associated with those older homes. Even though the style is relatively simple, it has more to it than a gable roof, which gives your home more curb appeal.
Additional Usable Space
Because the larger lower portion of the roof is almost vertical, it allows the upper portion of the structure to have more usable space. With a traditional gable roof and many other roofing styles, the single slopes leave little head space on the highest level. A gambrel roof on a home leaves you with the possibility of additional living space on the upper floor. A gambrel garage or shed roof offers additional storage space in the upper portion of those structures.
Good Drainage Capability
The two-slope design lets water roll off the roof easily without any valleys to make rain pool. The steep slope of the lower portion also helps water run off the roof well. Efficient water shedding cuts down on the risks of leaking and water damage to the roof. Even though it can shed water well, it's important to note that gambrel roofs aren't ideal in areas with high wind or lots of snowfall.
When comparing roof types, it's important to look at the potential advantages of different styles. Gambrel roofs offer a unique, classic style with more potential room, among other benefits.
Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.