Roof Types: 15 Most Common Styles

If you’re building a new home, you have many roof types to choose from – each with its own pros, cons, and unique look.

Roof Types

Some types of roofs, like hip roofs, are better suited for windy climates, while options like a standard gable do well in the snow. The best roof shape for your house depends on its architectural style, the local climate, and your budget.

Here’s an overview of different roof design styles with pictures.


Gable Roof

Gable Roof

A gable roof has two sloped sides and forms a triangular shape. It’s the most simple roof and one of the most common.

  • Pros: The pitch of gable roofs promotes water and snow runoff, and the simple design is fast and cost-efficient to build. Gable roofs match all types of architectural styles.
  • Cons: A gable roof is not ideal for areas with high winds or hurricanes.

Gambrel Roof

Gambrel Roof

Gambrel roofs are similar to gable styles – only they have two sets of symmetrical slopes on each side. These roofs date back to dutch-colonial times but are now widespread on homes and barns.

  • Pros: Gambrel roofs feature a simple, more decorative design than a gable roof but are still easy and cost-efficient to build. The pitch promotes adequate rain runoff.
  • Cons: Because gambrel roofs have a shallow top slope, they can’t bear the weight of a heavy snow load. These roofs also don’t perform well in hurricane zones.

Hip Roof

Hip Roof

Hip roofs feature four sloping sides that meet at a peak or ridge. A standard hip roof has a square-like shape, but there are many variations of this style, including hip and valley roofs and pyramid roofs.

  • Pros: Hip roofs are self-bracing and can withstand high winds, making them a good choice for hurricane-prone areas. They promote water and snow runoff and can add to the look of a home.
  • Cons: Since hip roofs have several seams, they’re more likely to leak. They are also more expensive to construct than a standard gable roof.

Hip and Valley Roof

Hip and Valley Roof

Hip and Valley roofs are intricate versions of the standard hip roof. They feature multiple hipped sections that meet at a valley. 

  • Pros: Hip-style roofs are self-bracing and ideal for hurricane and high-wind climates. Their slope promotes rain and snow drainage, and their multiple sides allow for an excellent gutter system.
  • Cons: Hip and Valley roofs have many seams, making them more prone to leaks. They are also complicated and expensive to build.

Skillion Roof

Skillion Roof

Skillion roofs feature a single flat, sloped surface. These roofs are prevalent in ultra-modern architecture.

  • Pros: Skillion roofs are simple and inexpensive to build. They give a home a contemporary look, and their steep slope makes them ideal for rainy and snowy climates.
  • Cons: The single slope of a skillion roof can’t withstand high winds, and the steep pitch can lessen attic space.

A-Frame Roof

A-Frame Roof

A-frame roofs have two steep sloped sides that touch the ground and meet at a peak on top. Their shapes resemble the letter “A.” While this roof style is popular for cabins, it works well in ultra-modern architecture.

  • Pros: The A-Frame roof works well in all climates, withstanding rain, snow, and high winds. The “A” shape is a simple design to DIY.
  • Cons: The steep slopes create awkward interior angles. A-frame buildings also pose heating inefficiencies.

Bonnet Roof

Bonnet Roof

A bonnet roof is a hip roof with four sides and a slight slope at the bottom, extending past the home’s exterior walls, providing shade like a bonnet. Bonnet roofs are most popular in tropical climates, over pool houses, and gazebos.

  • Pros: The shape of a bonnet roof supplies shade and protection around all sides of a home. Its hipped sections make it high-wind resistant and allow space for an excellent gutter system.
  • Cons: Bonnet roofs are expensive to build. They also have many seams, putting them at a higher risk for leaks.

Butterfly Roof

Butterfly RoofView in gallery

Butterfly roofs are the reverse of a gable roof – they feature two sides that slope downward, meeting at a valley in the middle. These distinctive roofs have a mid-century modern style.

  • Pros: The pitch of a butterfly roof promotes water drainage and is ideal for collecting rainwater. The aerodynamic design does well against high winds.
  • Cons: Butterfly roofs are expensive to build and aren’t ideal for snowy climates. Snow can accumulate on the ridge of these roofs, leading to leaks.

Dutch Gable Roof

Dutch Gable Roof

Dutch gable roofs are a combination of hip and gable roofs. They feature a gable roof surrounded by a hip roof with four sloping sides. They are also known as dutch hip roofs.

  • Pros: Dutch gables give a home a high-end look and can increase top floor space. They stand up well to all kinds of weather, including snow, rain, and high winds. 
  • Cons: Dutch gable roofs are expensive to build. They also have multiple seams, increasing their chance of leaks.

Shed Roof

Shed Roof

A shed roof features one sloping side, similar to a skillion roof. These roofs work for several design styles.

  • Pros: A shed roof is inexpensive to build and works on modern homes and outbuildings. The steepness of these roofs promotes snow and water drainage. 
  • Cons: Shed roofs can damage during high-wind storms. They also don’t fit every home style.

Lean-To Roof

Lean to Roof

Lean-to roofs are a version of the shed roof used for additions. They have one steep sloped side that butts up against the exterior wall of an existing structure.

  • Pros: Lean-to roofs are the easiest option for home or outbuilding additions. Their simple design is inexpensive to build. The steep slope of lean-to roofs promotes adequate water and snow drainage.
  • Cons: Lean-to roofs aren’t the best choice for hurricane zones. 

Clerestory Roof

Clerestory Roof

Clerestory roofs feature a vertical row of windows at the top of a roof line. A standard clerestory roof has a sloping roof under the row of windows and another on top.

  • Pros: The purpose of clerestory roofs is to maximize natural daylight and ventilation. These roofs can also help with solar heat gains, which is beneficial in cold climates. Clerestory roofs are customizable and can fit many home designs.
  • Cons: The windows on clerestory roofs increase the risk of leaks and require a lot of maintenance. 

Mansard Roof

Mansard Roof

The Mansard roof is a cross between a gambrel and a hip roof. It has four hipped sides, but each side has two slopes that make the roof look curbed. The Mansard roof is also called a curb roof or French roof.

  • Pros: The Mansard roof has a unique aesthetic and allows for more space on the top floor or attic.
  • Cons: Mansard roofs have a shallow top pitch that gives water and snow a place to pool. Because of this, these roofs are the least weather resistant of all. They’re also complicated and expensive to build.

Pyramid Roof

Pyramid Roof

A pyramid roof is a variation of a hip roof. Its four sides meet at a peak in the middle, forming the shape of an ancient Egyptian pyramid. 

  • Pros: Pyramid roofs are self-bracing and weather resistant. They allow ample space for a gutter system and can add height to a home or building.
  • Cons: Pyramid roofs have multiple seams, which increases the risk of leaks. They are also more expensive to build than a standard gable.

Jerkinhead Roof

Jerkinhead Roof

Jerkinhead roofs are a gable-style roof with clipped sections on each end. They are most common for Tudor, Craftsman, and Queen Anne-style homes. 

  • Pros: The clipped ends on jerkinhead roofs help them to withstand high winds better than a standard gable. They have a steep pitch that promotes water and snow drainage, and the clipped ends on these roofs can give a home an old-world look.
  • Cons: Jerkinheads are more expensive to build than a standard gable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What kind of roof shapes do best in snowy climates?

Roofs with a steep pitch do best in snowy climates since they promote snow runoff. Some options are gable, jerkinhead, a-frame, and hip-roofs.

What is the best roof shape for a hot climate?

Almost all roof shapes work fine in a hot climate – the most critical factor is the roofing material. If you live in a hot area, go for a light-colored roof.

What is the best roof shape for a heavy snow load?

Any steeply angled roof can do well during snowstorms. The pitch on the roof should be at least 1:12.

What is the best roof shape for a windy climate?

The hip roof is superior in windy and hurricane-prone climates. Several variations of this design include the pyramid roof, dutch gable, bonnet, and hip and valley roof.

Final Thoughts

Each type of house roof has advantages and disadvantages. For instance, if you live in an area that experiences high winds, a version of a hip roof is a good choice. On the other hand, a roof with a steep pitch is best if you live in an area with high snow loads.

The roof design you pick will influence the look and function of your home. If you aren’t sure which style is best for you, consult an architect or experienced contractor.