Many people mistake roof type with roofing materials. Both are important, but the type of roof your home has is determined when the home is designed and built whereas many materials are applicable for use on various types of roofs.
The design and type of roof used on a home should be determined by factors such as local weather and geographic conditions as well as the style of the home’s architecture; a flat roof may be appropriate to a commercial building such as a warehouse or strip mall building, but would look quite out of place on a Victorian style home!
A flat roof is just that; flat. Flat roofs are easy to build and require fewer materials and labor than most other types of roofs, which is why they are so commonly used on commercial buildings. A flat roof is not very attractive on most styles of homes, but will be found on some modern style homes and many multi-family residential dwellings.
The classic gable roof has two slopes forming a ridge or a peak at the top. From either end, the gable looks like the letter A. Gabled roofs must be braced properly to prevent damage or collapse due to high winds. A very triangular roof, the gable allows rain and snow to run off easily.
Typically featured on Tudor and Cape Cod style homes, a cross gabled roof has two gables that cross each other. Because of the more complex joints and bracing required, a cross gable roof requires more construction materials and labor.
Many gabled roofs have the gable ends on either side of a home, but some architectural styles like Cape Cods and Colonials will feature front gables.
A flattened gable roof style featured in Dutch colonial style homes and found on many American farmhouses, a gambrel roof looks more like a bell than a triangular shape when viewed from the side. The gambrels may be front or side facing.
Common on bungalow style homes, a hipped roof slopes up from all sides of a building and is low-pitched to allow snow and rain to easily run off and features large eaves. A hipped roof is more aerodynamic than most gabled roofs, allowing it to better withstand high winds.
Similar to a hipped roof the cross-hipped roof has two sections that cross.
Commonly used on Cape Cod, Colonial, and Ranch style homes.
Common on French Chateau and Ranch style homes, a Mansard roof features a flat area at the top instead of being perfectly triangular in shape.
Featured in two-story colonial homes throughout the eastern United States, a salt box roof is gabled, but the two sides are not symmetrical.
Easy and cheap to build, a shed roof is similar to a gabled roof and allows melting snow and rain to run off easily.