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Is A Gambrel Roof Right for You? A Visual Guide

Posted on : August 20, 2023

Is A Gambrel Roof Right for You? A Visual Guide

A gambrel roof is an architectural staple, gracing many structures from modest cottages to grand mansions. Its distinctive silhouette and practical advantages have made it a popular choice for centuries. But what exactly is a gambrel roof? And is it the right choice for your building project? 

As a roofing expert, I’m here to help you find all the answers to your questions. Let’s look at its features, uses, and pictures of different types of gambrel-style roofs.

What is a Gambrel Roof?

A gambrel roof, also known as a Dutch colonial roof, is characterized by two slopes on each side. The upper slope is positioned at a shallow angle, while the lower slope is much steeper. This unique design maximizes attic space in homes and allows for a taller loft area in barns and sheds.

Gambrel roofs have been a staple in American architecture since the late 1600s, adorning Dutch colonial and Georgian-style homes, and farmhouses. Beyond homes, these roofs are also a common sight on barns and sheds, where their space-optimizing design proves incredibly useful.

The choice of material for a gambrel roof often depends on the overall design style of the building it tops. From asphalt, wood, and slate shingles, a gambrel-style roof can look great in a variety of different materials. You can even go for a metal gambrel roof if that's your style.

Gambrel vs. Gable Roof

Another popular style of roof is a gable roof. It's the one you often see on houses and even in kids' drawings – you know, the classic triangle-shaped one. Those sharp angles help prevent snow from piling up and allow rain to easily slide off. 

Now, the gambrel roof is a bit different. It has two slopes on each side, making it look a bit fancier compared to the basic gable roof. While it also does a great job with water drainage, the top part doesn't handle snow as well, so homeowners in regions with harsher winters should be cautious. 

Gambrel vs. Mansard Roof

Gambrel vs. Mansard Roof

Alright, let's talk about another roof style: the mansard roof. It has stylish curves on all four sides and is reminiscent of a fancy French château.

The gambrel roof has matching slopes on both sides, giving that old-timey charm to homes and barns. On the other hand, the mansard roof is more sophisticated, offering a touch of elegance with its curves and creating extra space on the upper floors.

The Pros And Cons Of A Gambrel-Style Roof

Like any architectural design, gambrel-style roofs have unique features that are useful for some but not for all. Here are some of the key pros and cons to consider:

Benefits of a Gambrel Roof Design

More Space: Those steep sides mean you can do more with the upper floors – think extra rooms, lofts, or storage spaces.

Classic Look: Gambrel roofs have this special look that feels cozy and traditional, making them popular for barns, cottages, and houses with history.

Fresh Air: They're great for letting the breeze flow through, thanks to those gable ends and dormers.

Rain and Snow Run-Off: The angle helps water and snow slide right off, so no worries about leaks or water damage.

Get Creative: You can play around with the design, making it fit anything from a country vibe to a modern feel.

Gambrel-Style Roof

Also Read: The Impact Of Roof Type On Home Insurance Rates

Potential Drawbacks Of A Gambrel Roof

Tricky Upkeep: Cleaning gutters and maintaining this roof can be a bit of a challenge with all those angles and surfaces.

Watch the Weight: It might not hold as much weight as other roofs, which could be a problem in snow-prone areas.

Complicated Build: While it's simpler than some, it's still more complex than your regular gable roof.

Wind Worries: In really windy places, the tall sides might not hold up well during storms.

Rules and Regulations: Depending on where you are, you might have restrictions on installing a gambrel roof on your home.

The Diversity Of Gambrel Roof Designs

Gambrel Roof Designs

The gambrel roof's flexibility makes it adaptable to various types of home architecture and designs. Here are some examples of how this roof design can be utilized in different settings.

A Cozy Cottage With A Gambrel-Style Roof

A gambrel roof can contribute to the quaint charm of a cottage-style home. Combined with wood and stone construction, the roof's design can make your home feel like a timeless retreat.

An Attached Garage With A Gambrel Roof

Even if your house sports a standard gable roof, opting for a gambrel roof for your attached garage can add an interesting visual dynamic to your home.

A Mansion Adorned With A Gambrel Design

Gambrel roofs are not reserved for smaller structures. They can also be seen on larger buildings, including mansions, where their unique design adds a touch of elegance and grandeur.

A Classic Gambrel Barn Roof

Barns are perhaps one of the most common structures where gambrel roofs are used. The design allows for maximum utilization of space, making it an efficient choice for both old and new barns.

A Gambrel Shed Roof

For outbuildings like sheds, a gambrel roof is a top contender due to its simple construction and space optimization.

Whether you're considering a new build or looking to renovate, a gambrel-style roof is a worthwhile option to explore. With its ability to maximize space, accommodate a wide range of materials, and provide excellent drainage, it could be just the architectural flourish your property needs.

If you are looking for a new roof design for your home in Pittsburgh, we’re here to help!

Ready to Transform Your Roof? Talk To Our Experts Today!

When it's time for a roof replacement, don't navigate the process alone. At McClellands Contracting and Roofing, our skilled roofing professionals are here to help you select the best roof design and install it perfectly on your property. Whether you're leaning towards a charming gambrel barn roof or an elegant mansard roof for your home, we’ve got you! Call us at (412) 353-5660 for a free consultation and estimate on your roof replacement project in Pittsburgh, PA. Get started on your roofing journey with confidence!

Frequently Asked Questions

A. While both gambrel and mansard roofs feature multiple slopes, they are distinct designs. A mansard roof has curved angles on all four sides. In contrast, a gambrel roof has two symmetrical sets of slopes on two sides, making its design simpler than a mansard roof.

A. With proper maintenance, the structure of a gambrel roof can last over a century. However, the lifespan of your roof also depends on the material used. For instance, a metal roof can last 40 to 70 years, while asphalt shingles may need replacement after about 20 years.

A. Gambrel roofs are commonly seen on large barns, sheds, and Dutch colonial homes. They also appear on some Georgian-style homes, older farmhouses, and manors.

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