Hip Roof vs. Gable Roof – Pros & Cons of Each

Are you in the process of designing or building a new house or framing a roof? If so, chances are you are considering one of the two most popular roof types in the US; hip & gable.

This guide will help you decide between a hip and gable roof for your new house, or an existing roof re-framing project. – Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of each roof type, and find out which one is a more appropriate choice for your needs:

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Gable Roof

Also known as pitched or peaked roof, gable roofs are some of the most popular roofs in the US. They are easily recognized by their triangular shape.

Pros: Gable roofs will easily shed water and snow, provide more space for the attic or vaulted ceilings and allow more ventilation. Their simple design makes them easier to build and cheaper than more complex designs.

Cons: Gable roofs can be problematic in high wind and hurricane-prone areas. If the frames are not properly constructed with adequate supports, the roof can collapse due to strong winds. High winds can also cause materials to peel away from gable roofs. If there is too much of an overhang, winds can create an uplift underneath and cause the roof to detach from the walls.

If a gable roof is used in high wind areas, be sure proper braces are used and have the roof inspected after a large storm to ensure no damage occurred.

Suggested materials: Gabled roofs can be covered with almost any type of material including asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, Terra Cotta tiles, metal, and clay or concrete tiles. However, if the gable roof also contains a dormer, hips and valleys, it should either be shingled or roofed with metal shingles or standing seam to help prevent any future roof leaks. A proper flashing of valleys and end-walls around the dormer, if there is one, is also an absolute must.

Note: It is recommended to use at least a 10/12 pitch, or 40° angle, for snowy regions.

Types of Gable Roofs

Side Gable: A side gable is a basic pitched roof. It has two equal panels or sides pitched at an angle. Both sides of the gable meet at the ridge in the middle of a building. The triangle section can be left open for an open gable roof, or it can be enclosed for a boxed gable roof.

Crossed Gable: A crossed gable roof is two gable roof sections put together at the right angle. The two ridges are perpendicular to each other. Lengths, pitches or heights may or may not differ from each other.

It’s an excellent roof design for homes with separate wings. You can use the cross gable roof architecture to accent different areas of your home, such as the garage, porch or dormers.

It’s often used in Cape Cod and Tudor styles houses.

Front Gable: A front gable roof is placed at the entrance of the house. This design is often seen in Colonial style houses.

Dutch Gable Roof: A Dutch gable is a hybrid of the gable and hip roof. A gable roof is placed at the top of a hip roof for more space and enhanced aesthetic appeal.


Hip Roof

A hip roof has slopes on all four sides. The sides are all equal length and come together at the top to form the ridge.

Pros: Hip roofs are more stable than gable roofs. The inward slope of all four sides is what makes it more sturdy and durable.

Hip roofs are excellent for both high wind and snowy areas. The slant of the roof allows snow to easily slide off with no standing water.

Hip roofs can offer extra living space when a dormer crow’s nest is added to a hip roof.

Note: For high wind areas, or strong storms, a pitch of 4/12-6/12 (18.5°-26.5° angle) is recommended.

Cons: Hip roofs are more expensive to build than a gable roof. It’s a more complex design that requires more building materials. Also, if there are dormers built into the overall design of a hip roof, the additional seams and valleys can make it easier for potential water leaks to occur around dormers, if the roofing system is not properly installed or if the end-walls of a dormer are not properly flashed.

Note: Proper construction and roof system maintenance is a must to prevent minor issues from turning into major problems.

Suggested materials: Hip roofs, like gable roofs, can be covered with almost any type of roofing material, such as shingles, metal, slate or tiles.

Types of Hip Roofs

Simple Hip: The most common type of a hip roof. It has a polygon on two sides and a triangle on two other sides. The sides come together at the top to form a simple ridge.

Cross Hipped: Similar to a cross gable roof. Use separate hip roofs on homes with different wings. The line where the two roofs meet is called a valley.

Note: Valleys can allow water to pool. Proper waterproofing is a must.

Half Hipped: A standard hip roof that has two sides shortened to create eaves.


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4 thoughts on “Hip Roof vs. Gable Roof – Pros & Cons of Each

  1. Pingback: Roof Replacement Cost: The Latest Report for 2015 - RoofingCalc.com

  2. Don Jordan

    I am planning a single-story ranch house, about 34 W x 52 L, and I think it would be best to make a simple hip roof. It will be in a moderate to high wind area. I don’t plan to use the attic space for anything so I won’t be adding dormers or other accouterments. What I’m wondering is how to support the roof. I want to make the outer walls with 2x6s. I also want an interior wall running down the middle in the long direction, also made of 2x6s. This will support some vertical 2x6s that will in turn support a beam running lengthwise, and the roof will be held up with true rafters, not cheap trusses. Is there any reason I couldn’t do that?

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