What Is An A-Frame Roof?

An A-frame roof has two steeply sloped sides that meet at a peak. Its shape resembles the letter “A,” where it gets its name.

A-Frame RoofView in gallery

Cabins are the typical type of home featuring A-frame roofs, but designers also use them on ultramodern architecture. These roofs have many advantages, including weather resistance and affordability.

If you’re considering a home with an A-frame roof, here’s what you should know.

What is an A-Frame Roof?

An A-frame roof has two sloped sides. The bottom of the roof starts near the foundation and meets the opposite side at the top of the home, forming a peak.

An A-frame roof closely resembles a capital “A” or triangle.

A standard A-frame is one or two stories high. In a one-story A-frame, there’s typically a set of stairs leading to a small bedroom loft.

The roof’s steep slopes enable it to withstand high wind, while its sharp angles promote optimal water and snow drainage. Even though this roof style is advantageous in many ways, its steep slope limits the second story and attic space. The pitch also creates an angled ceiling inside.

The Pros and Cons of an A-Frame Roof

A-frame roofs prove structurally sound in extreme climates but also have a few disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons.


The pros of A-frame roofs:

  • Versatile for All Climates– A-frame roofs are among the most versatile. They encourage optimal water drainage, and their steep slopes prevent snow build-up. Despite doing well in rainy and snowy climates, they’re also suitable for hot areas.
  • Can Handle High Wind – The sturdy construction helps these roofs stand up to high winds better than most other types.
  • Affordable – A-frame home packages are readily available and use minimal material.
  • Unique Design – These roofs are distinctive and a great option if you’re looking for an out-of-the-box home.
  • Build Yourself – A-frame homes have a simple design. If you have construction experience, you can purchase a plan and build one of these homes.

The cons of A-frame homes:

  • Awkward Interior Angles – The steep slopes of A-frame roofs create angled interior walls, making furniture arrangement difficult.
  • Limited Living Space – The angles of the roof decrease square footage, especially in the home’s upper levels.
  • Heating Inefficiencies – The design of A-frame homes means heat will rise to the top of the house and not distribute evenly. With proper insulation and window installation, you can heat an A-frame efficiently, but it will take more work than a traditional home.

A-Frame Roof Examples

Here are some examples of homes with A-frame roofs.

Contemporary A-Frame Glass House

Contemporary A-Frame Glass HouseView in gallery
Bromley Caldari Architects PC

You’re probably used to seeing A-frame roofs on cabins, but they’re also a prime design for ultra-modern homes.

An A-frame structure works well on this all-glass-front home. The large windows allow the perfect view of the pool, while the triangle shape gives it a minimal feel.

A-Frame Cabin with Metal Roof

A-Frame Cabin with Metal RoofView in gallery
Bromley Caldari Architects PC

Since A-frame roofs cover such a large area, they’re ideal for solar panels and skylights. The owner of this home took advantage of the roof space by adding large windows that allow ventilation.

The cabin has a nice mix of materials with wood siding and a metal roof.

Modern-Rustic A-Frame Cabin

Modern-Rustic A-Frame CabinView in gallery
Owners Choice Construction

A-frame cabins look great with additions. The combination of styles gives this cabin an interesting design, while its dark paint job lends to a modern look.

If you love this style, consider painting your a-frame a dark color and using wood accents.

Mountain Style A-Frame Home

Mountain Style A-Frame HomeView in gallery

A-frames are ideal for all climates, including the mountains of California. The roof shape helps the cabin stand up to extreme weather, and the large windows give guests a beautiful view.

You can also see how the homeowners designed a simple wraparound deck to complement this house.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What’s the best way to insulate an A-Frame roof?

A-frame roofs with exposed wood sheathing typically have a layer of rigid foam insulation between the two. A-frame homes with drywall ceilings and walls will have more insulation options, including spray foam or Rockwool insulation. Since optimal insulation and product availability vary by area, it’s best to consult a local contractor before choosing.

What’s the pitch for an A-Frame roof?

The pitch of an A-frame roof depends on the design – and hundreds of variations exist. The most popular A-frame cabin plan is the equilateral triangle. An equilateral A-frame home will have rafters and joists of the same size, constructed at equal 60-degree angles.

Can you use metal on an A-Frame roof?

You can use metal on A-frame roofs. Metal is one of the best A-frame roof materials since it has fewer seams and is less likely to leak. You can also use shingles or tiles.

Final Thoughts

A-frame roofs start at the foundation line and meet at a peak, forming a triangle or “A” shape. These homes are typically one or two stories, featuring a small loft at the top of the triangle.

These roofs are ideal for all climates. They promote water drainage and prevent snow build-up but do fine in hot areas as well. The biggest downside to A-frame homes is their awkward interior angles.