Types of Roofing Designs, Explained

Roofing types - hip - saltbox - mansard - gambrel - flat - lean to - skillion

If you are planning to build a new home, it is important to consider all of the various types of roofing designs available, as the type of roof you select is a major contributor to the look and feel of your dream home design.

If you already own a home, re-roofing with a new material can help improve the exterior look or curb appeal of your property.

The area of the country you live in is another factor to consider as climate extremes, excess sunlight and wind need to also be considered.

Here are the most popular roofing styles for you to choose from:


A Skillion roof has a single slope like you’d see on a shed, which is similar to a slant roof as it has no ridge. The result of this design is that you end up with walls that are at different heights. This uneven terrain allows for varied cross-sections while also leaving ample space for clearstory windows. The differing roof angles create a visual uniqueness. Better yet, a Skillion roofs is easier to construct than a ridge roof so this design is also cost-effective. The steep pitch allows water or snow to flow off easily so this works well in colder regions. As this style allows the use of metal, it can be both snow friendly while also offering a more vibrant, sleek design.


A lean-to roof slopes downward and does not rise in the middle like a standard roof. A Lean Ro is also called a Skillion roof as the design is virtually the same. Like the Skillion, if you live in a snowy or rainy area, a Lean to Roof is a good option if the roof is angled away so it can push water and melting snow away from it.


Gable roofs is a very common roofing type used in many building designs. The gable roof features two sloped sides that meet to form the ridge. It is easily identifiable by the triangular shape at each end. Gable roofs can shed snow and water easily in cold areas, depending on the pitch. The only drawback for a Gable design is that they are more easily damaged in a high wind situation. The Gable design is particularly good for a an interior loft as it provides more headroom as well as better ventilation. Gable roofs actually come in several variations as follows:


While similar to the standard gable roofing design, a box gable roof has triangular extensions at each end of a house with the roof section boxed at one end.


A front gable roof is placed at the front of the home, with front door usually being placed directly underneath the gable. This design is quite popular among Colonial-style homes here in New England.


A cross gable roof has two or more gable rooflines which intersect at an angle. Generally speaking, these two ridges are perpendicular to each other. Homes with cross-gable roof designs may also have separate wings, as well as a larger porch area to boot.


An extension to an existing roof with a gable is possible by adding a shed roof to its ridge. This hybrid design is popular for property owners who want to expand. It allows for more headroom without having to alter the roof’s structure or look.


A dutch roof combines a gable design with a hip roof design. Typically, the gable roof is placed on top the hip roof. This also creates more space in a loft. This design is very popular with homeowners wanting to add additional living space, while also enhancing aesthetic appeal..


A dormer roof features a roofed structure with a window that extends vertically beyond the plane of a pitched roof. Also called a rooftop window, dormers are used to increase usable space in a lofted area while adding additional windows along the existing roof plane.


Shaped like a condensed or elongated pyramid, the hip roof style has every side sloping downward, usually with more subtle roof angles. A hip roof features no gables or other vertical sides that extend to the roof.


Working from the classic hip roof design, the hip and valley roof types work best when a dwelling needs a combination of roof types and angles to facilitate the building’s architectural elements.


Gambrel roof styles are symmetrical with two-sided panels that slope on each side. This ingenious design provides the advantages of sloped roof angles while lengthening headspace inside the building’s upper level.


A classic European design, the Mansard roof, also known as French or curb roof, is a four-sided, gambrel-style, hip roof which has two slopes. The lower slope, punctured with dormer windows at an angle steeper than the upper, creates additional floors of habitable space (known as a garret) which reduces the overall height for a certain number of stories.


Like the name implies, a butterfly roof design features an obvious V shape which is characterized by an inversion of a standard roof, with two roof angles sloping down from opposing edges to a valley near the middle.


Intersecting roof types feature a combination of a gable and hip style which often join these rooflines with different pitches at play. This can add real design flair to more intricate architecture present in the home design as a whole.


A jerkinhead roof is a variation of the gable roof style where the peaks are abbreviated to mimic a hip design. These clipped roof angles streamline the peak of a standard gable roof to reduce potential wind damage.


As the original roof style, a flat roof is often used in arid climates to allow the roof space to be easily used. Flat roof types are an easy to construct and are affordable roofing option, especially for homes built in the desert. A flat roof usually features at least a 10 degree slope or pitch which is needed for proper rain runoff.


An enduringly popular variation of a hip roof design, a cross roof remains a common roof type and is often laid out in an ‘L’ shape. A cross hipped roof features two intersecting hip sections that run perpendicular to one another.


An M shaped roof creates a bold zig-zag pattern. As such it is often used by architects to create a more dramatic design impression. M-shaped roofs are ideal for roof window installations to let in more natural light. While extra living space can now be added where the peaks form throughout the building.


A classic New England design, the saltbox roof is often used for a wooden frame house. The saltbox features a long, pitched point that slopes down towards the back. A saltbox home also often has just one story in the back and two stories in the front due to its slanted styling.


Appropriated from the barn roof style, a shed roof has only one sloping plane and is often not attached to another roof surface. This provides a simple design which is most affordable in terms of construction cost.


The A-frame design features steeply-angled sides that can often start at or near the foundation line and meet at the top to form the shape of the letter A. This design is quite popular for ski chalet homes as the steep sloping handles heavy snowfall with ease.


A bonnet roof boasts a double slope on all four sides with the lower slope less steep than the upper slope. Bonnet roof styles don’t just cap off a home, they often lend spaces covered patios and porches via an extended overhang.


A pitched roof is a two-sided sloped roof with a gable at both ends, where the roof slopes downward, usually in two parts that are angled from a central ridge, or in one part, from one end to the other.


A variation of a hip roof, pyramid roof types keep all sides sloping down towards the walls. Depending on the size of the building, the pyramid may have three or more rectangular faces.

The best way to decide which roof type is best for you is to have lengthy conversation with a roofing contractor to discuss the pros and cons of how the roof design will affect your home’s design and function. Contact Nick Tracey now to get the professional advice and feedback you’ll need to make the best possible choice.