16 Roof Types & Shapes

In this article, we hope to cover more detailed descriptions of roof types in addition to more information on terminology so you can familiarise yourself with it all. 

Prior to engaging with your local roofing company, it’s important that you understand the different roof types available. This will let you avoid a situation where you choose a style that might look good but be totally unsuitable for your chosen building material and location. Therefore, it’s worth taking some time to consider some of the options available.

1. Gable roof

Gable Roof. Source: Roper

Box Gable Roof

A box gable roof is a style of roof characterised by two sloping sides and a ridge that meets to form a point. The roof has triangular extensions on either side that are boxed off from the walls. This versatile design is effective for cold climates because it provides protection against rain, snow, and wind.

Cross Gable Roof

The cross gable roof is a common type of roof design that features two or more gable-like areas intersecting at an angle with one another. This intersecting aspect creates additional space for attic space, allowing for storage in the roof of a building.

Gable Roof with Shed Roof

A shed roof addition can offer homeowners more space without the need to alter the original design of their gable roof. A popular alteration, a gable-shed roof is often added to build an extension and create more headroom.

Open Gable Roof

An open gable roof is one of the more popular roof types and is a variation of the “box gable” roof, with the only difference being that one side of each end of the roof is left open. An open gable roof adds visual appeal and drama to any home. It can be used on a wide variety of buildings including homes, cottages, barns, churches, and sheds.

2. Hip roof

Hipped Roof Exeter
Hipped Roof. Source: Roper

Simple Hip Roof

This is one of the popular roof types for homes as it has many architectural benefits over other types of roof designs. Also referred to as a ‘hip’ roof, the symmetrical pitched roof has 4 sloping sides that are the same in pitch, and that slope toward walls normally placed centrally on each side of the house.

Hip & Valley Roof

Hip and valley roofs utilize triangular structures to provide a larger surface area for a given size.This roof design is the most common in commercial buildings, featuring sloped roof sides that can merge with horizontal indented walls to allow for greater flexible use of the airspace above. This style of architecture has an old-fashioned appearance that complements rural areas particularly well.

Pyramid Hip Roof

Pyramid hip roofs are designed with a slanted sloping top ridge line, which is flat across and has a slope lengthwise. Often a pyramid hip roof will have an inverted V shape below the ridge line with the upper and lower edges being the ridge lines.

Half Hipped Roof

A half-hipped roof is a variation of the simple hip roof and often used in conjunction with other styles. Half hipped roofs are popular as they provide more options for creating/fitting windows and are good for loft extensions. It’s a very popular design, because it offers a lot of natural light and an open space for the attic.

Cross Hipped Roof

A cross hipped roof is perfect for larger buildings that have complex layouts with protruding sections or windows, and it performs well in adverse weather conditions by holding large amounts of snow and rain. It’s a perfect choice for your building if it has an irregular layout or distinct rooflines.

3. Dutch roof

Dutch Roof Exeter
Example of a Dutch Roof. Source: Wikipedia

The Dutch roof is an architectural hybrid that combines gable and hip-type roofs. At the end of the ridge, a large gable sits with a slight pitch. This style creates a large amount of internal roof space, improves aesthetic appeal, and creates impressive design variety.

4. Mansard roof

These are old-style yet a popular choice for Victorian buildings. Mansard roofs are four sided and double sloped with a shallow top slope. They are a great way to maximise space in buildings such as barn conversions and new-build homes.

5. Flat roof 

Flat roofs are durable, long-lasting and great for long-term projects. They are a popular choice for offices, factories, warehouses and other permanent structures. Due to its simple design, a flat roof offers clear lines and is more flexible for commercial buildings. This makes it ideal for the roof of an office or warehouse. 

waitrose flat roof install
Flat roof installed at Waitrose by SPS Roofing Ltd

6. Shed roof

This roof style can be easily and cheaply constructed by simply using one piece of shed, or skillion, roofing. The pitch is easy to determine as it typically sits at around 45 degrees. This is to allow water to be drained off. It also allows for large amounts of light to pass through the top of the roof which can be beneficial for plants in a garden. 

Shed roof

7. Butterfly roof

A butterfly roof, otherwise known as an inverted pitch roof, is a stunning design element that maximizes natural light and air flow. They also provide a sleek appearance and are easily maintained. It offers a modern and eye catching look to buildings. It also allows for great heat rejection, and harvesting rainwater.

Butterfly Roof Exeter
Butterfly Roof Exeter. Source: DesignBoom

8. Gambrel roof

The most prominent feature of a gambrel roof is its two sloping sides which creates a large area for storage. However, this design may not be suitable in areas that receive heavy snowfall due to the risk of excessive weight on the roof’s structure. It’s a simple design that maximises the use of space both vertically and horizontally.

9. Dormer roof

Dormers are small triangular structures that project from the upper slope of common roof types. They usually contain a window, and are most popular in loft conversions. This is because it’s easy to install and is significantly cheap. Dormers are also used in contemporary home design, but they are less popular in that setting.

10. M shaped roof

The M-shaped roof is a unique double pitched roof. It is essentially two gables meeting at the top to form an ‘M’ shape. The gutter runs down the centre of the roof to prevent any build-up of ice or snow in winter. The design combines beauty with functionality, helping it to become one of the most popular choices for homeowners across the UK.

M Shaped Roof – Source: Inhabitat

11. Clerestory roof

A clerestory roof is a type of pitch roof. It creates an interesting architectural effect. Windows can be added to the interior wall, allowing light to fill the room and also into the building. This light can also reflect off the windows and cast light on the ceiling, creating a more interesting space.

12. Curved roof

A curved roof on a building serves both structural and aesthetic purposes. Due to the variety of material options, such as steel, it is possible for a curved roof to have less wind resistance than a flat roof while looking “shinier” than a sloped one. Many customers are eager to invest in curved roofs, because they can add a lot of style to any building.

13. Dome roof

A dome roof is shaped like a half sphere, creating an elegant and impressive architectural structure. A classic choice for many large buildings since the 1800s, this structural design adds beauty to any building, while also acting as an ideal shelter from rain, snow and the sun’s damaging rays.

14. Parapet roof

Parapet roofs are flat roofs that have the surrounding wall of a building extending outwards past the edge of the roof, making them as safe as a gabled roof. It acts as a safety railing to prevent people from falling over the edge.

Parapet roof Exeter
Parapet roof. Source: DesignBuildings

15. Saltbox roof

The saltbox is a versatile and durable style of roofing that has been used in residential and commercial buildings for centuries. A really cool roofing option, the saltbox is just as good at blending into the background as it is at standing out. Additionally, it offers a distinctive, iconic design that’s come to be known for its lasting durability.

16. Lean to roof

The lean-to is used when two slopes are formed at either side of a ridge form or are inclined at different pitches. It’s a type of roof design where the main roof is pitched at an angle, but supported by a wall. The lean-to is the simplest of roof designs, when compared to the gable facade, its overall shape can be said to resemble an “L”. Lean-to roofs are often built on the rear of buildings, especially barns and garages.

Looking For A Qualified Roofing Company?

SPS Roofing Ltd is a highly rated roofing company based in Exeter operating across Devon and South West England including Somerset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Dorset.