What Is A Gable Roof?

Gable roofs 101: Essential knowledge for homeowners and architects

Imagine asking a child to draw a house. More often than not, the result is a simple square structure with a triangle perched on top. Have you ever stopped to wonder what this classic roof style is called? If you’re feeling curious, this blog is your gateway to discovering the answer!

These iconic roofs are called gable roofs. They’re incredibly popular across the United States and are known for their timeless appeal and practical design. The defining feature of a gable roof is its triangular shape.

What’s interesting is that many homes boast more than one gable, adding an extra layer of architectural interest. This blog is your go-to source for exploring everything there is to know about gable roofs. From their history and construction to their advantages and variations, you’ll find it all here!

Defining A Gable Roof

  • A gable roof is like a triangle on top of a house, with two slopes coming together to make a peak in the middle. The angle of the slopes can change, and the peak can run in different directions. The triangles at each end of the house are called gable ends.

The triangular part of a gable roof called the gable, is usually made with materials like stone, siding, or wood, not roofing materials. Gable roofs are common in cold places like New England and Canada because their steep slope helps rain and snow slide off easily instead of piling up on the roof.

What Is A Gable Roof Made Of?

  • A gable roof can be covered with various materials like asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, metal, or tiles made of terra cotta, clay, or concrete. Here’s a breakdown of the most common options:

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are popular for gable roofs with features like dormers, hips, and valleys because they help prevent leaks and come in many colors and styles. They’re also weather-resistant.

Metal Roofs

  • Metal roofs are great for withstanding extreme temperatures, wind, and hail. They’re durable and low-maintenance, though more expensive than asphalt shingles.

Tile Roofs

They can last 60 to 100 years and are also weather-resistant and easy to maintain. However, they’re heavier and more costly to install than asphalt shingles.

Cedar Shake Roofs

  • Made of wood, these roofs are attractive and resist leaks around dormers and other areas. But they need more maintenance and are prone to water damage.

Gable roofs often have different roof heights with peaks, valleys, and dormer windows. To prevent leaks, roofers may suggest metal shingles or a standing seam metal roof. They’ll also install flashing, thin metal pieces around dormers, chimneys, windows, and gutters.

Are Gable Roofs And Hip Roofs The Same?

  • Just like the gable roof, the hip roof is popular in certain areas because of its unique features. A hip roof is easily recognized by its four sloping sides: two larger ones meeting at a ridge and two smaller ones sloping down to the walls, giving the house a pyramid-like appearance.

One advantage of a hip roof is its streamlined design, which cuts down on wind resistance compared to gable roofs. With four sloping sides, strong winds can smoothly flow over the roof, reducing the risk of damage. However, because hip roofs are more complex, they tend to be pricier to build than gable roofs.

  • Despite their differences, both gable and hip roofs excel at keeping rain and snow off your home. Plus, they work well with various roofing materials, offering homeowners plenty of choices.

The Various Types Of Gable Roofs

Classic Gable Roof

A standard gable roof has two sloping planes that meet at a ridge. These planes can be steep or shallow and are great for shedding rain and snow. They’re also cost-effective to build.

Front Gable Roof

  • Unlike the standard gable, a front gable roof runs perpendicular to the front door. This means the shingled sections face the side yards instead of the front and back.

Box Gable Roof

Similar to a standard gable, but with extended gable ends that create an overhang. This overhang provides more interior space and keeps precipitation from falling directly in front of the foundation.

Cross Gable Roof

  • This roof style features two gabled roofs intersecting at a right angle, forming a shape like the letter T or L. The key feature is two ridges meeting along the roof’s highest point.

Dutch Gable Roof

A Dutch gable roof is like a standard gable roof on top of a hip roof. This creates four sloping sides, two small triangular gable ends, and a unique roof shape. Dutch gables offer more headroom inside and add visual interest to a standard roof.

Gabled Dormers

  • Gabled dormers project out from the roofline to create additional interior space and bring in more light. They’re also a stylish architectural feature commonly found in Cape Cod-style homes.

Saltbox Roof

Saltbox homes have gabled roofs with one side longer than the other, giving them a distinctive shape. While the front looks like a standard gable, the back slopes down toward the yard, creating a unique appearance.

Gabled Overhangs

  • Many colonial homes have small gabled sections over their front porches or steps. These overhangs not only add charm but also help shed snow away from the door, preventing snow buildup and making it easier to access the home in winter.

What Are The Advantages Of Gable Roofs?

Affordable Solution

A gable roof consists of two large sections slanting and joining together, making it a simple yet widely used design. It’s a cost-effective choice for covering your shed, requiring fewer materials than other roof styles.

Protection From The Elements

  • The angled sides of a gable roof, whether steep or gentle, ensure that rain, sleet, and snow slide off easily, preventing buildup that could damage your shed over time.

This natural drainage system keeps your shed or barn safe and dry, which is especially beneficial in areas prone to heavy snowfall or rainfall.

Extra Space

  • A gable roof can provide extra headroom, creating a vaulted ceiling inside your shed. This not only looks impressive but also adds usable square footage and boosts the shed’s resale value. You can even add mezzanine floors for sleeping areas, workspaces, or additional storage.

Aesthetic Appeal

Gable roofs offer not just protection and space but also aesthetic appeal. Whether you want your roof to blend in with nature or stand out in a vibrant setting, there’s a range of color options to choose from.

Customization Options

  • Adjusting its size and pitch allows you to customize a gable roof to suit your preferences. This customization adds aesthetic value to your shed and its surroundings, making it a versatile and attractive choice for any property.

What About The Disadvantages?


This type of roof is economical and durable in areas with stable weather patterns. However, it may not withstand strong winds, which could pose a problem for those residing in regions prone to severe weather.

Susceptible To Damage

  • Gable roofs are commonly constructed using wood and tiles. Because they are exposed to the elements, they are prone to cracking and require frequent repairs. To prevent this, consider using materials that are resistant to water and heat.

Mind The Rain

gable roofThe sloped design of gable roofs helps prevent leaks. However, if the roof is not steep enough, it may not be able to handle heavy rainfall, leading to potential collapse. To avoid this issue, ensure the roof has a sufficient pitch to shed water effectively.

While a gable roof can be a great choice for many homes, it may not be the best option for every situation. If you’re considering installing a gable roof on your home, we recommend consulting with a contractor first to ensure it’s the right choice for your needs.

Our seasoned experts are here to help! To learn more about gable roofs and get expert advice tailored to your specific situation, call (202) 840-8698 or complete the form on our website to arrange a consultation. We look forward to helping you find the perfect roofing solution for your home!

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