Gambrel Roof Architecture: Pros and Cons

House with gambrel roof architecture

Do you know your roofing architectural styles? Do you know what sets a hip roof apart from a gambrel roof or a mansard roof?

You might be surprised to find out how many roof styles there are, let alone how many different roofing materials there are to choose from.

There are many architectural styles that “go with” their own type of roof.

Gambrel roofs are no exception. Let’s take a look at this classic style and find out if it will work for you,

What is a Gambrel Roof?

Gambrel RoofYou may know the difference between a gable roof and a hip roof. Gable roofs have two vertical sides, and hip roofs have none.

The gable roof looks like a child’s drawing of a roof.

The gambrel roof is like that, with one difference: each sloping side of the roof is “broken” into two halves. There are two slopes are coming down from a central ridge instead of two.

Gambrel roofs were a very popular style in traditional Dutch architecture, which is why you might associate this roofline with an old barn.

This style of roof leaves plenty of room in the attic space. Therefore, it was used for a long time in this country for barn buildings.

Gambrel Roof Pros

A gambrel roof can be used for houses too. It’s a popular design for farmhouse style, Dutch Colonial style, and Georgian style homes.

This style looks clean and classic in any building. The top part of the slope is shallower, while the bottom slope is almost vertical, leaving an ample, open space under the roof that can accommodate a third story very easily.

The gambrel roof is also easy to build. On a simple gambrel, there are no hills or valleys or any complex joints to fit together. They typically use two beams with gusset joints for the underlying structure.

Because of the easy build, gambrel roofs are cheaper to install and maintain than a more complex roof system.

In addition, it takes fewer materials to build a gambrel roof, making it more cost-effective in that way as well. However, you will still have a unique-looking roofline that is beautiful and clean-lined.

Like a gabled roof, gambrel style roofs have excellent drainage.

Cons of a Gambrel Roof

However, gambrel roofs aren’t ideal for areas that get high winds or heavy snow or both.

Heavy snowfalls will inevitably sit on the lower slope portion, which is higher on the roof. This puts a strain on the whole roof, which can cause leaking eventually.

If you have a gambrel roof, making sure to reinforce the gussets can offset this problem.

High winds can be another big issue for gambrel roofs. They tend to be high and big roofs, structure-wise, and they may not weigh enough to stay down in a high wind. They are susceptible to uplift in high winds if not engineered correctly.

Some gambrel roofs have problems with ventilation, which can mean moisture damage if they are not adequately attended to.

If you have a gambrel roof and you have never replaced a roof before, be prepared to spend a bit more than you would with a traditional gable roof.

Gambrel roofs do add surface area, and therefore materials to the cost. It is also a design that requires specialized knowledge to replace correctly, so you don’t want to try to fix or replace this kind of roof yourself.

Bringing it Home

Gambrel roofs are unique, romantic, and they offer more space in the attic and excellent drainage.

However, make sure your gambrel roof is adequately supported and maintained, and that you consult with professionals who know what they are doing.

If you have any questions regarding your roof and live in Southeast Michigan, please call. We would be honored to help.

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