Home Improvement

Hip Roof VS Gable Roof VS Shed Roof (Skillion Roof): What Are They?

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When it comes to building a new home, you need to take into account lots of aspects to make the right design decisions. One important architectural element is the style of the roof. It might not seem like a particularly important detail but each roof design comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Hip, gable, and shed roofs are some of the most popular designs available to choose from when building or renovating a house. Let’s explore each roof style in detail to figure out the key differences between them and help you make the best decision according to your needs and aesthetic preferences.

Short Answer: A gable roof (or a pitched or peaked roof), features two sloping sides that come together at a ridge, creating a shape similar to a triangle. It is simple in design, cheap to build, and efficient at letting water and snow slide instead of accumulate. A hip roof has slopes on all four sides. The sides are all equal length and come together at the top to form a ridge, making it more stable and resistant to wind than a gable roof. A shed roof, also known as a skillion roof or a lean-to roof, is basically a single flat plane which slopes down from a higher wall to a lower wall. This design is used for additions or with home designs that want to maximize natural light, enhance airflow or concentrate on aesthetic appeal.

1. What is a Hip Roof

A Coastal House With a Hip Roof

The hip roof features four sloping sides that are joined together at the same peak and lacks a flat face. This roof style has no vertical ends and gives off the impression of a square structure considering the characteristic design of its sloping sides. A hip roof can also be used to create a rectangle structure style when the sloping ends create a ridge design together with the other sides.

Advantages of a Hip Roof

A Large House With a Hip and Black Roof

  • Stability

Thanks to the self-bracing frame style, a hip roof shows off superior stability compared to other types like gable. By choosing this roof design, you will be able to enjoy extra strength and durability provided by rafters that slope inward. Additionally, a hip roof boasts better resistance to strong winds simply due to the better aerodynamics of a hipped design.

  • Beautiful aesthetics

Many homeowners find hip roofs more aesthetically pleasing than gable or other designs. This is mostly due to the consistent look of the eaves that provides the house with a stylish uniform appeal. Although it comes down to personal preference in the end, it’s safe to say that a hip roof will usually have the upper hand in terms of appearance. This roof design is simply more interesting compared to others and is often associated with high-end builds.

  • Great for lower roof slopes and insurance discounts

As opposed to other roof designs, a hip roof is better suited for buildings that feature lower slopes. The extra stability of this roof design can really make a difference in these cases. Another notable advantage of a hip roof is that you might be able to obtain better insurance benefits considering the reliable wind resistance of this type of roof design.

Disadvantages of a Hip Roof

  • High cost

Extra stability and durability come at a cost because it’s typically more expensive to install a hip roof compared to others. The price difference can be particularly significant if you compare a hip roof with a gable roof. In some cases, the cost of a hip-style roof can be 50% higher than gable designs. Keep in mind that costs will add up when you also take into account the shingling process and the more intensive labor required.

  • Poor snow performance

A hip roof shouldn’t be used in cold climates where heavy snowfall is a serious issue. This is because the characteristic sloped design of the hip roof isn’t as reliable for proper snow release compared to others. If you’re concerned about snow performance, gable roofs tend to work better than hip roofs.

  • Reduced attic space and solar surface area

Having extra slopes in a roof design comes with the drawback of reduced attic space. This might be a problem for some homeowners who need as much storage space as possible in this area. However, if attic space isn’t a priority for you, this becomes a non-issue. Another potential disadvantage is the lack of enough surface area on a hip roof to install solar panels.

2. What is a Gable Roof

A Black Scandinavian House With a Gable Roof

The gable roof design stands out by having just two sloped sides that meet at a peak. Each end features vertical spaces in a triangular shape enclosed by the walls of the house. Compared to hip roof designs, the gable style is much more popular among residential homes in the US. The flat ends of this roof type are commonly called gables and tend to be constructed from the same materials as the exterior of the house.

Advantages of a Gable Roof

A House With a Gable Roof and a Black and White Exterior

  • Great snow performance and reduced maintenance

The classic gable roof design promises much better snow performance compared to a hip roof. Instead of accumulating on the roof and causing all sorts of structural problems, snow slides off easily, especially if the house is designed with a higher pitch. Water and other debris are also shed more conveniently on a gable roof to reduce overall maintenance work.

  • Affordability

Thanks to being more affordable, a gable roof can be considered a more attractive choice for homeowners on a tight budget. As opposed to expensive hip roofs, gable designs are relatively simple to build allowing you to make some great savings in terms of project costs. They’re usually much cheaper than more complex roofing design styles.

  • Large attic space

If you like having plenty of storage space in the attic, it’s safe to say that a gable roof is ideal. Due to its characteristic design style, this type of roof stands out compared to others in terms of attic space. The sloped roof sides and vaulted ceilings allow homeowners to organize rarely used items more comfortably in the attic. There’s also the extra benefit of improved ventilation.

Disadvantages of a Gable Roof

  • Less durability

As you’d probably expect given its structural simplicity, a gable roof won’t be able to match the stability and durability of more complex roof designs such as hip styles. It performs poorly against strong winds which means that you should avoid installing a gable roof if you live in an area affected by hurricanes or other powerful storms. Improper construction without sturdy braces can also cause long-term issues if the roof is exposed to high winds.

  • Basic design

Although some homeowners like the classic aesthetic of a gable roof, its basic design doesn’t look as attractive as other roof styles. The gable roof design enjoys great popularity but this is mostly due to its affordability as it’s pretty lacking in the aesthetics department. It won’t be able to increase the curb appeal of the home. That being said, a gable roof can provide more room for decor elements to enhance its style.

3. What is a Shed Roof

A Modern House With a Shed Roof and Courtyard Staircase

The shed roof shows off a fairly simplistic design. It’s essentially a flat roof that has a single sloping side. You can also picture a shed roof as just being one half of a classic gable roof. This type of roof design gets its name from being popular on shed constructions. However, shed roofs are nowadays used on all kinds of modern residential structures because they’re fairly straightforward to build and look attractive.

Advantages of a Shed Roof

A Modern House With a Shed Roof and a Swimming Pool

  • Cost-effectiveness

Compared to complex roof designs that require lots of materials and a laborious installation process, shed roofs are very affordable. You don’t have to worry about high costs if you choose this type of roof design. The reduced complexity translates to superior cost-effectiveness and a faster construction time.

  • Reliable drainage

When selecting a roof style for your home, drainage represents a critical aspect. This is one area where the shed roof performs well because it’s capable of effective water and snow shedding. Just by taking a simple glance at the shape of this roof, it becomes immediately noticeable that its steep slope prevents water from pooling or any snow buildup that may cause structural damage.

  • Modern aesthetics

Do you prefer a modern home exterior design? The shed roof works like a charm with this kind of design scheme focused on sleek minimalism. Despite the lack of complexity, a shed roof has a lot to offer in terms of aesthetics. Aside from the clean lines created by its single steep slope, the shed roof boasts greater versatility when it comes to roofing material options to create the desired finish style with minimal effort.

  • Great for solar panels

Adding solar panels on the roof is highly recommended if you’re interested in eco-friendly energy sources for your home. Having a shed roof makes it easier to install solar panels on its large sloped side. Keep in mind that you need to take into account the positioning of the home to ensure that the slope of the roof faces the sun correctly.

Disadvantages of a Shed Roof

  • Weak wind resistance

The susceptibility to strong winds can be considered a shed roof’s biggest drawback. Other roof styles perform much better during high-wind storms and aren’t as vulnerable to damage. Depending on the style of the overhang, it’s also more likely for the shed roof design to detach from the house when facing powerful wind forces. There are some ways to mitigate the risk of damage, but it’s best to choose a different roof style if you live in an area with great exposure to hurricanes or other extreme weather events.

  • Lack of attic space

If you decide to install a shed roof for your home, it’s important to be aware of potential sacrifices that need to be done in terms of attic space. Most houses designed with this roof style will likely not even feature an attic. Even if they do, the storage space is greatly reduced compared to gable, hip, or other roof designs. It’s simply the price you have to pay to enjoy the unique architectural appeal of a shed roof.

  • Awkward space inside

A shed roof can look very stylish from the outside but it’s not always very practical when it comes to organizing the space inside. Remember that only one side of the roof is slanted which means that you will have to deal with an unbalanced ceiling design. There will be one part of the house with a low ceiling while the other one features an extra-tall ceiling. It can be quite challenging to figure out the best interior layout design with this kind of awkward space inside resulting from the shed roof construction.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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