Different Types of Roofs

Know What’s Best For You

The roof is not just a design feature; it is a requirement for every house for purposes of safety, health and aesthetics. If you’re constructing a new house or planning to move your family to a new one, the roof type is one of the main things you should think deeply about. Most people leave that to their building contractors. But if you desire something different, how do you go about it?

Types of roofs

The type of roof depends on three factors: the roof pitch /slope, the materials used for roofing and the shape of the roof. There are many roof types in use all over Australia today. Some come from as far back the colonial era while others are modernistic and futuristic designs based on the latest architecture.

Roof shapes

Roofs can be gabled, hipped, flat, gambrel, mansard, butterfly, saltbox, pyramid, bonnet, skillion etc. When choosing a roof type, you are free to go with any of the options above, depending on practicality. For Australia, the commonest types of roofs include the gabled, hipped and flat roofs. Here’s a summed up review of each roof shape.

Gabled: Also called ‘pitched’ or ‘peaked’, the gable is roof is typically triangular, forming an upside ‘V’ shape. It is basically made of two sides with a middle gap called a gable. While they are some of the simplest when it comes to roof construction and provide room for a spacious attic, they are not ideal for places with high, strong winds. When not well fastened, the roof can easily be blown off by the wind. Variations in the design include the crossed, flat, Dutch and side gables.

Hipped: A hipped roof is made of four or more sloping sides/planes and can be square or rectangular. The planes are designed to slope downwards from the ridge at the top, at an angle determined by the size of the house. Function wise, they are good for areas of high wind and strong storms. They are noted for their strength, stability and shade-giving eaves but are also more complex and expensive to construct, courtesy of their complicated truss and gable structure. Variations include the cross and half hipped roofs.

Flat: As the name implies, this roof appears flat in structure, although it is always pitched at a wider angle to allow water runoff. Typically, flat roofs are ideal for drier areas, not those that receive large amounts of rainfall. They are easier to construct, easier to access (especially for those that love watching the night sky) and accord the house a modern look. Their main downside is the accumulation of materials on the roof, which requires regular maintenance. They also require waterproofing to prevent infiltration of water.

Skillion: This roof shape is similar to the flat roof; it only has a steeper slope to allow for better drainage. Also called the shed roof, it is usually not attached to another roof. Their advantage lies in the various design options that can be incorporated in them while their disadvantage is their cost of construction and low ceilings in some designs.

Mansard: The mansard roof is a four-sided roof with a double slope on each side. Originally used in France, the lower slope on each side is steeper than the upper, with the sides being flat or curved. Its advantages include added living space in the attic and beauty. On the downside, they are not ideal for areas that receive heavy snowfall, especially when lowly pitched, and can be expensive to construct.

Gambrel: Similar to both the gable and mansard roofs in design, the gambrel roof is made of two planes sloping downward from a top ridge. Much like the mansard, one plane of the roof has a distinct lower pitch than the other. More living space and lower cost of construction are the main benefits, while their limited strength is their main downside. They are not recommended in areas of high winds and heavy snowfall.

Butterfly: In contrast with the gabled roof, this roof shape is made of two planes slanting downwards toward each other to form a butterfly wing shape. Their middle point of contact is fitted with a trough for rain water, eliminating the need for gutters like on normal roofs. A modern exterior and feel is one of the advantages of this roof shape, while its disadvantages include expensive construction and inefficient water collection.

Green: Usually flat in shape, the green roof is not really a distinct shape but a variation in usage. Also known as a living roof, it is designed with space and a soil covered to allow for monitored growth of plants and animals. Considering usage, this roof shape is best for urban areas that also receive enough rainfall to support vegetation growth.

Roof pitch

The pitch of a roof is the angle at which it slopes, and the major determinant of its steepness. Roof slopes can be either low pitched or steep pitched. Commonly, the former are constructed at angles less than or equal to 14°, while the latter have their slope angles at more than 14°.

Different Types of Roofs - Roof

Roof materials

The commonest materials for roof construction range from industrial made ones such as plastic polymers, metal, concrete tiles, asphalt and terracotta tiles to naturally-occurring ones such as wood, ply and slate. The roof slope tends to influence the material used, in addition to other factors such as area climate, winds and budget. Australian homes commonly use metal, terracotta and concrete tiles, they last longer in the extremities of Australian weather than many other roofing materials while giving off a modern look.

When making a choice of roof type, the points above are some of which you must follow. To know the right roof shape, ideal materials and right slope is one sure to make informed choices regarding your roof. Granted, the process of choice shouldn’t be so hard after going through the tips above. Happy construction!