Roofs are like icing on a cake — they adorn the home and give it character. Even if you have made only a casual observation of roofs, you have probably seen a variety of designs. While all roofs serve as a protective covering for the home, each architectural design is unique in its slope and composition.
Read on to learn about seven different roof shapes and why they are popular in specific regions and climate zones. If you are on the pathway to buying a new home, you will want to know which materials and styles are best suited for your new abode.
Skillion and Lean-to
Those who are intrigued with minimalist designs will find the skillion roof — often referred to as the lean-to — attractive. This roof shape has just one steep slope, which makes it an ideal option for those who live in areas prone to heavy rain. Skillion roofs are popular in New England or other mountainous regions where snowfall is prevalent, as their slopes accelerate snowmelt runoff.
Want to brighten your home with natural light? With a skillion roof, you can add eco-friendly skylights. Since this design does not have a variety of angles, you also will have ample space to add solar panels, which can reduce energy consumption.
Another thing to consider is which type of shingles are recommended for a skillion roof. Asphalt shingles can be used for nearly every roof type, including the skillion. They are reasonably priced and are available in a variety of textures and colors. Standing seam metal roofing is a preferred material for many homeowners who want to install solar panels.
Installation of a skillion roof is less complex than for other roof types, which makes it budget friendly. On the flip side, if you decide on a skillion roof, you will sacrifice precious attic space.
Other than a dome roof, the M-shaped roof is the most recognizable, as it looks like a huge capital M. This double-pitched roof (which could also be referred to as a double gable) rests on two pillars or load-bearing walls. Its two sloping walls meet in the middle to form the 13th letter of the alphabet.
The dip is an excellent place for snow and rain to accumulate and, consequently, weaken the roof. To prevent this from occurring, gutters must be placed between the two slopes.
Bees are mathematical geniuses. Eons ago these industrious flying insects introduced the world to their superior, stylish design: the honeycomb. Long before the ruler was invented — to ensure all hexagonal sides were equal in length — they understood the precision required to guarantee the functionality of their design; their honeycombs are what sustains their hives, and thus, there is no room for error.
If you are building your new home and want a show-stealing roof, look no further than the honey maker’s prototype. Hexagonal gazebos are no longer idyllic backyard garden centerpieces; they are embellishing homes in neighborhoods across the country.
All six triangular pitched panels match in size and are supported by rafters. While it requires tens of thousands of bees to make a honeycomb, you won’t need a crew that large to create your hexagonal gazebo roof. However, you should hire only licensed, highly qualified professionals. Translation: It will cost you a pretty penny.
The dome roof is a definite departure from normal but if can add a touch of grandeur. If constructed properly, it can also act as a watertight seal, making it ideal for nearly every region and climate. Many homeowners find the dome roof to be a perfect solution when adding a gazebo or a crow’s nest to their residence.
Built based on the unchanging laws of physics, these roofs are extraordinarily stable and can withstand punishing storms, powerful wind gusts and a heavy blanketing of snow. The preferred materials include metal or asphalt shingles and aluminum or wood shakes.
A major benefit of the dome roof is its inherent ability to insulate and moderate a home’s internal temperature. Since no weight-bearing posts are required to support the dome structure, homeowners have more living and storage space.
Drawbacks include high labor and installation costs. In addition, the dome roof must conform to your local building codes and it may be a challenge to sell a home with a dome.
A curved roof, with a rounded peak and low slope, can add beauty and character to a contemporary home in any environment or climate. The flexibility of metal makes it an ideal option for curved roofs. Homes that are pounded by heavy snowfall benefit immensely by the sloped design, which can accelerate the shedding of snow.
Curved roofs are architecturally sound and can be constructed to encompass the entire home or to create an arched entrance. Except for the arch, the curved roof bears a strong resemblance to the skillion. While it is pleasing to the eye, this roof requires skilled labor and that will be reflected in the installation cost.
The shed roof is a flat roof that typically has a one-directional slope, similar to a skillion roof, but it also can form a gabled roof, or two sloping sides that form an A-shape. Its simplicity to construct makes it popular for several home styles including cottages, compact homes and farmhouses, and also one of the most cost-effective roof options. You can add some sizzle to your shed roof by choosing an asymmetrical — instead of symmetrical — roof design and by using a bold color for the roofing material.
On a mid- to steep-pitched shed roof, all roofing materials — from asphalt to metal — are compatible. Not all shingles are rated for low-pitched shed roofs, so you would need to discuss which is best with your builder before nailing down the best type of shingle. The higher the slope, the more living and storage space you will have. The downside: As the surface area of the roof increases so does the cost of materials and installation.
The saltbox roof rose to prominence in New England in the 17th and 18th centuries, as early settlers found the shape of a saltbox inspirational; the saltbox’s sloped design replaced the plain-vanilla square box house design.
Most homes of that era already had gable roofs, so the saltbox actually had organic origins. Those who wanted more space but lacked the funds and building materials simply constructed a lean-to on the existing structure. A perk to the saltbox is that most roofing materials are a good match: asphalt, metal, wood, slate and composites. But the downside is that labor costs can be as steep as the roof itself.
When building a new home, you must consider many factors, not least of which is what kind of roof to install. But now that you know more about some of the different types of roof shapes — and their pros and cons — hopefully that will inspire you in choosing the perfect roof shape for your dream home.