Difference Between the Gable Roof and the Hip Roof Styles

A simple gable roof has two sloped rectangular planes that form a peak when viewed from the side -- similar to the letter, "A" -- and a ridge that spans from one side of the house to the other.

A standard hip roof, on the other hand, has four sloping planes, and its ridge does not extend the full length of the house. The best roof style for your home depends on many factors, including cost, aesthetic appeal and your climate.

Design Pros and Cons

Both gable and hip roofs are suitable for higher or lower pitches, but when hip roofs are very steep, they can end up looking like steeples. Both roof styles work well with other intersecting roof planes that add atheistic appeal and create complex roof designs. Each style has its pros and cons.

Gable Roof Pros

  • With their straight lines, gables roofs are simpler and cheaper to build.
  • Gable roofs shed snow and water well, especially at 10/12 pitch or steeper.
  • Stick-framed gable roofs provide ample interior loft space and room to install windows in the gable wall.
  • Gable roofs give you additional ventilation options in the form of gable vents in the gable walls.
  • Because gable roofs have only two lower edges, less gutters are necessary.

Gable Roof Cons

  • Gable roofs need additional bracing in high wind or hurricane-prone regions, and you pay more for homeowners' insurance if you live in one of these areas and have a gable roof.

Hip Roof Pros

  • Hip roofs provide additional wind protection, because all roof planes slope to the bottom edge of the roof and there is no flat gable wall to bear the brunt of the wind.
  • Homes with hip roofs have less siding, because no exterior gable walls are present.
  • Because all four sloping roof planes rest on the home's upper wall plates, a hip roof provides more structural support and can span wider distances than a gable roof.

Hip Roof Cons

  • It takes longer to frame hip roofs, which have complicated compound cuts, resulting in higher labor costs.
  • If you're planning on finishing an attic or loft, you'll have less room with a hip roof -- all the roof planes slope downward.
  • Expect higher shingle costs. While you'll save on siding, you'll spend more on shingles.

Roof Trusses

A good framing contractor can frame either a hip roof or a gable roof, but many prefer to order manufactured trusses, which eliminates the need to cut and frame each individual member of the roof. It still takes longer to install hip trusses than it does gable trusses, because gable trusses install in a straight run from one end to the other while hip trusses contain many small members and extra assembly steps.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, it's up to you to choose the style of roof you feel is best suited to your house design and climate. A home in the Southwestern United States, where sunshine is abundant and rain is sparse, would benefit from a lower-slope hip roof. If you want to build a mountainside home in a northern clime, you might be better off with a higher-pitch gable that encourages snow to slide off and provides a vaulted gable wall in which you can install windows to maximize the view of the valley below.