Gable roofs are one of the most common roof structures, so common that it tends to be the only roof structure that children use when drawing a house. It consists of two sloping sides sloping in opposite directions and come together at a ridge, giving it a distinct triangular shape or an upside down V.
The pitch of the roof can differ greatly as well as the height of the gutters. For example in places with heavy rain it may have a steeper pitch to help with the water drainage, where as other places that have high winds or heavy snow the pitch may be shallow to prevent avalanches and damage.
Below we will run through what the advantages, disadvantages and what is needed to build a gable roof structure.
Types of Gable Roofs
Front Gable: A front gable roof structure is one that is recognised when you draw a house for a stick man family. The roof is placed at the entrance of the building where the gable will be central to the entrance and pointing to the road or entryway.
Side Gable: Side gables are exactly like a front gable roofs with it having two equal panels pitched at an angle with them both meeting at the ridge however, the difference being it’s positioning on the building itself.
Unlike a front gable where the triangular section / ends of a gable appears above the entrance, a side gable shows the roofs surface at the entrance and the triangle section at the side. The triangular sections can be left open or left enclosed to be a boxed gable roof.
Another simple way to explain a side gable is to take a front gable and turn it 90° and voila, you have a side gable.
Cross Gable: As it refers to in it’s name, this roof structure is shaped like a cross. It consists of two gable roof sections that connect together at the right angle. The two ridges tends to be 90° degrees of each other.
You tend to find this type of structure on Tudor houses. It is a great structure to use if the building has separate wings. For example a house you may find the entrance to the property to have a front gable that may be the hallway to the home and then a side gable that consists of the other rooms such as kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms etc.
When it comes to cross gable roof structures the pitches, lengths or height may vary from each other however, in other instances it can be the same.
Dutch Gable Roof: A dutch gable is a gable roof but the sides are shaped of one or more curves and tend to find a pediment at the top. This tends to be found on properties to give it a decorative feel to it. This isn’t a modern structure, dutch gable roof arrived in Britain near the 16th century but dates back to the 14th century around Europe and the Netherlands.
This type of structure is found in many historic cities across Europe and most notably in the Netherlands.
The advantages of a Gable Roof
There are a vast amount of advantages of a Gable roof one of which being it is very inexpensive making it the most commonly occurring roof shapes in the world. The reason it is so inexpensive is because it’s simple design makes it easy to construct compared to more complex roof styles like the butterfly roof.
With gable roofs they provide more space underneath the roof due to it’s style. Again unlike other roof structures like butterfly roofs and flat roofs, the gable provides the space to have a loft or even another room that can be accessible with a stairway within the property.
Another benefit of having a gable is that they are least likely to get damaged from water or heavy snowfall. It can easily shed water and snow from the roofs surfaces with it’s steep pitch that allows it to drain water easily. This means that they are least likely to get leaks or water damage from the roof structure.
Recap of benefits:
- Inexpensive: Due to it’s simple design it makes it reduces the cost of construction.
- Additional Space: As the roof peaks it provides additional space beneath the roof to be used a loft space or another room.
- Weather resistant: The design of the structure allow water drainage to easily flow off the surface making it less likely to cause damage to the roof.
The disadvantages of a Gable Roof
One of the biggest disadvantage of gable roofs are that they are prone to wind damage. With the pitch of a gable being so steep it can cause the wide surface area of the roof to be exposed to wind forces. This could also cause the roof to collapse if it isn’t supported correctly.
If however, there is too much overhang when the structure is fitted, the wind can lift the roof away from the properties walls. This is one reason why you don’t see many gable roofs in places that have tornadoes or hurricanes.
Contradicting one of the points under the advantages however, having a gable roof can also reduce living space. This all depends on how high the pitch it. Of course the lower the pitch, the closer it is to a flat roof which results in a lower living space.
Recap of cons:
- Wind Damage: Due to it’s pitch it is exposed to the forces which could cause damage to the roof.
- Lower Living Space: If the gable roof has a low pitch it can mean that their is no room to have the option of a living space beneath the gabble roof structure.
The construction and build of a gable roof
The reason why a gable roof is so common is because of it’s simple design and build. It is built using a ridge board, gable studs, ceiling joist and common rafters. It has two downward slopes that go in the opposite direction, just like a triangle or upside down V.
Firstly before starting to build a gable roof many roofers start by bracing the ceiling joints and ceiling frame in place to assist with the rest of the installation of the gable.
Next begin with setting up the first set of common rafters on each end of the roof so it forms the pitch, then the ridge can then be fixed in place for the rest of the rafters to be installed. This is where you will start to see the common triangle shape assemble. This is when the gable studs are set in place to make the roof structure sturdy and provide the roof with the gable ends.
Below you will see a simple diagram of the construction of a roof gable.
In the end, is a gable roof right for you? Well depending on if you are in the right location that won’t cause damage to the roof in future and don’t want to spend over the odds for a fancy roof. Then a gable is the perfect option. With the extra touches of fitting a roof window and having fancy shingles this can add an extra dimension to the roof. Plus installing a roof window can give the roof space light, providing that the roof pitch is steep enough to use the underneath as living space.
The beauty of having a gable roof is it is so versatile, you can do as little or as much as you want.