Should I Get a Hip Roof or Gable Roof?

The Pros and Cons: Hip Roofs and Gable Roofs

While there are dozens of possible roof designs to consider for a new or newly renovated home, there are two, in particular, that stand out for their enduring popularity and timeless appeal: hip roofs and gable roofs.

But what exactly are hip roofs and gable roofs? How are they different from one another, and what are the pros and cons of each one? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about these roof types.

What is a hip roof?

In the simplest terms, a hip roof is one with four equal-length sides that all slope downwards from the ridge at the top. There are a couple variations on this basic form. Here are the most common.

Simple hip roof

With a simple hip roof, there are two sides that are polygons—usually trapezoids—and two sides that are triangles. The two trapezoids meet in a ridge along the top, and the triangles connect them. This is the most common type of hip roof.

Half-hipped roof

A half-hipped roof is simply a regular hip roof with the lower halves of the triangular sides cut off. This creates eaves on the shortened sides. Half hip roofs are sometimes called clipped gables, or jerkinhead roofs.

Cross-hipped roof

A cross-hipped roof is essentially two simple hip roofs arranged in an “L” shape or “T” shape. The place where the two individual hip roofs meet—the angle of the “L” or the intersection of the “T”—is known as a valley. This design is used on homes with multiple wings that branch off of one another.

What are the pros and cons of a hip roof?

Before you settle on a hip roof, be sure to consider the advantages and disadvantages of this design. Consider how these pros and cons fit into your preferences and needs.

Pros

  • With the addition of a dormer or crow’s nest, hip roofs can provide living space that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
  • Hip roofs are compatible with nearly any roofing material. Options include cedar shakes, slate, asphalt shingles, terra cotta tiles, clay tiles, concrete tiles, and metal panels.
  • Simple hip roofs are particularly well suited to areas with a lot of snowfall or high winds. Hip roofs in regions prone to high winds or strong storms should have an angle between 18.5° and 26.5°.
  • Because of the slope of the sides, hip roofs are extremely sturdy. They’re more stable than the average gable roof.

Cons

  • With cross-hipped roofs, depending on the design, water from or snow may collect in the valley. With this type of design, reliable waterproofing is critical to avoid leaks.
  • The more complicated the design of a cross-hipped roof, the more likely leaks become. Dormers, with additional valleys and seams, can also increase the risk of water problems.
  • As a rule, hip roofs are more expensive than gable roofs.
What is a gable roof?

Gable roofs are easy to recognize: They have a distinctive triangular shape. This type of roof, also called a peaked roof or a pitched roof, is one of the most common designs.

While there are many variations on the standard gable roof design, you should at least be familiar with four of the most popular: side gable, front gable, Dutch gable, and crossed gable.

Side gable

This is your basic peaked roof design. A side gable consists of two sloped sides of equal length, meeting at a ridge along the top. It’s the triangular shapes between the two roof panels that are the “gables.”

If there’s no panel in the triangular shape between the two sides, it’s known as an open gable roof. If those triangular shapes are enclosed with panels, it’s called a boxed gable roof.

Front gable

A common feature of colonial homes, a front gable is simply a gable over the entrance of the house, typically facing the street. These are also known as gablefront houses.

Dutch gable

In Dutch gable roofs, a gable is added on the ridge of a hip roof. This may be done simply for aesthetic value, or for additional space.

Crossed gable

This roof style, ideal for houses with multiple wings, is most often seen in Tudor and Cape Cod houses. It consists of two standard gable roofs set at a right angle to one another, with the ridges perpendicular.

The lengths, heights, and slopes might be identical on the two roof sections, or they might differ from one another. Depending on the design of a crossed gable, this roof structure can be used to accentuate other architectural features, such as porches, dormers, or garages.

What are the pros and cons of a gable roof?

As with hip roofs, gable roofs come with their own set of pros and cons. Here’s what you should know before choosing a gable roof.

Pros

  • Much like hip roofs, gable roofs are versatile in terms of the type of roofing material you can use to cover them. Slate, metal, shingles, or tiles are all potential choices.
  • Gable roofs are generally less expensive than hip roofs.
  • Compared to hip roofs, gables allow for better ventilation and more attic space. They’re also ideal for vaulted ceilings.
  • Gable roofs are a good choice for climates with a lot of precipitation, as their design allows rain and snow to easily slide off without accumulating.

Cons

  • Gable roofs are not as stable or sturdy as hip roofs. An especially strong storm can cause a gable roof to collapse. After severe weather, gable roofs should be checked for damage.
  • This design is not advisable in areas with a risk of hurricanes.
  • Too much overhang on a gable roof can be dangerous. During high winds, the overhang can cause enough uplift to detach the roof from the walls.
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