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Colorado Homeowner Education: Roof Types 101

No matter the architecture of your home’s roof, it makes up a large portion of the exterior. This post, Colorado Homeowner Education: Roof Types 101, will explain the differences. 

Pitched or Steep Sloped Roofs: 

What is a pitched roof or steep-sloped roof? A pitched roof is a roof with a sloping surface. Typically, the angle is greater than 20 degrees. The pitch of a roof is its vertical rise divided by its horizontal span and is a measure of roof steepness. Most commonly, a residential roof pitch is between a 4/12 and a 9/12; however, most “walkable” roofs are below a 7/12 pitch.  

  1. Gable Roof:

The gable roof is the most traditional style of Residential Roofing. It consists of two sides that come together to form a ridge and creates the iconic triangular, pointed shape. Their simple design makes them extremely easy to build or re-roof. Typically, on the gable ends, a gable vent will be installed for cross-breeze and attic ventilation.  

Benefits of gable roofs:  

  • Easily shed water and snow; there is nowhere for the water to pool.  
  • Provide more space for an attic or vaulted ceilings.  
  • Allows for more ventilation. 
  • Easier and more affordable to build than complex designs and needs fewer building materials. 

2. Hip Roof: 

A hip roof is easily identified by the slopes from all four sides (typically equal length), which come together at the top to form the ridge of the roof. In many cases, two slopes form a triangle shape, and the other two slopes form a trapezoid without any vertical ends. Hip roofs require a little more experience than gable roofs, and costs can be more expensive as more materials and waste is used for a hip roof replacement.  

Benefits of a hip roof:  

  • Better stability and more durability than gable roofs due to the inward slope of all four sides.  
  • Are better in areas with high wind, rain, and snow.  
  • Are typically seen with lower sloped roofs.  
  • Allows for more of an appealing architectural design. 

3. Gambrel Roof: 

A gambrel or gambrel (a.k.a. barn or Dutch roof) is a modified version of a gable roof, which features a single slope on each side; however, a gambrel roof is modified to have two slopes on each side (the lower slope is typically steeper, and the upper slope is positioned at a shallower angle), which meet to form a ridge. A gambrel roof is also like a mansard roof but has vertical ends instead of being hipped at the four corners of the building. We typically see a gambrel roof on older-style homes or large barns/sheds. 

4. Mansard Roof: 

A mansard roof (a.k.a curb roof or French roof) is a hybrid between a gambrel roof and a hip roof. For a mansard roof, the slopes of the four sides do not meet to form a ridge but can form the perimeter for a low-sloped roofing system. Typically, these roofs are more expensive and have higher costs of replacement, but these higher costs are worth the beautiful architectural design.

  5.  Flat (Low-Sloped) Roof: 

Flat roofs are typically used for industrial and commercial buildings but can commonly be seen on residential roofs as well. Flat roofs do have a slope, which is why the most preferred terminology is “low-slope” roofing, which is typically under a 2/12 pitch. Flat roofs are more susceptible to leaks as they do not shed water or snow off the roof as efficiently as a steep-sloped roof. Installation for a flat roofing system is relatively easy, but proper installation with an experienced roofing contractor will ensure the low-slope roofing system will last years without any issues. Because they are more susceptible to leaks, it is important to maintain your low-sloped roof each year.  

NexGen Roofing is a local licensed, bonded and insured, roofing company.


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