Hip Roof vs. Gable Roof

Does your property need a roof replacement? Selecting the right roof profile and materials is critical to ensure that your new roof fits all your requirements, whether they relate to costs, energy efficiency, wind stability, or insulation.

Hip and gable roofs are standard throughout the United States. Both these roofing systems have sloped sections to allow water runoff. However, each type has its unique characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks. In this guide, our team at Wegner Roofing & Solar explores the differences between hip versus gable roof structures.

What Is a Hip Roof?

A hip roof’s sides slope down in all directions from a horizontal ridge line. A hip roof section has a pyramid shape when looking from the side, and the tile or shingle slopes are visible from all angles. The exterior wall top plates are below the roof-side eaves and don’t extend upward to ridge level.

Hip Roof Types

Various hip roof design variations exist:

  • Dutch gable roof: This roofing system consists of two layers: the bottom layer has a conventional hip roof design, and the top layer has a gable roof design with flat sections directly below the ridgeline.  
  • Half-hip roof: This design has a flat side with a gable. However, the gable doesn’t reach the roof’s ridge. Instead, the top section has a hip roof design that squares off the gable’s top.
  • Mansard roof: A mansard roof is a hip roof with two layered sections. The bottom layer has steeper slopes than the top.
  • Pavilion roof: A pavilion or pyramid roof is the most basic hip roof design and consists of four slopes that join at the top to form the horizontal ridgeline.
  • Tented roof: This hip roof type has a high ridgeline or peak. In some designs, the slopes have an upward curve.

In residential settings, hip roofs typically consist of two or more perpendicular sections with valleys separating them. This conventional structure is called a hip-and-valley roof.

Hip Roof Benefits

Why should you consider a hip roof? Let’s take a look at the benefits of this roofing system:

  • Wind stability: Hip roofs are inherently aerodynamic. The slopes on all sides allow the wind to blow over a hip roof instead of against it. A hip roof’s trusses also have lateral reinforcement, contributing to its structural integrity. As a result, this roof type is ideal in locations with high winds and tornadoes.
  • Effective water management: A hip roof’s eaves extend over all the exterior walls. Consequently, the gutter system keeps rainwater and snowmelt away from sensitive areas, including your home’s foundation.
  • Compatibility with all roofing materials: Hip roofs are suitable for most roofing tile or shingle materials, including clay, asphalt, concrete, and slate. The result is more design versatility when planning your construction project.

Hip Roof Drawbacks

While hip roofs have functional designs, there are several drawbacks you should consider when planning a new roof installation:

  • Design and construction costs: Hip roofs are generally more expensive to build. These designs are complex, and their construction requires more materials, fixtures, and structural components than most conventional roof designs.
  • Higher risk for leaks: A hip roof has multiple seams, especially if it consists of more than one section. A proper flashing and sealant installation over the valleys and seams is crucial to prevent leaks. While leaks are common in hip roofs, you can prevent this issue by partnering with a reputable contractor such as Wegner Roofing & Solar.
  • Less attic space: A hip roof with low slopes may not provide sufficient attic space. Additionally, dormer installations in the roof slopes may be necessary to allow natural light into the house.

What Is a Gable Roof?

The most significant difference between a gable and hip roof is that the former uses exterior walls as part of its structure. A simple gable roof has a conventional design with two opposing walls, or gables, and two roof slopes. The two walls extend upward to the ridgeline, forming a peak. Like hip roofs, a gable roof design can consist of multiple sections.

Gable Roof Types

Gable roof designs vary depending on the floor plan that needs covering. The most common gable roof types include:

  • Cross-gable roof: Larger homes often have cross-gable roofs, which consist of multiple rooflines intersecting at a 90-degree angle to form wings.
  • Front gable roof: With this design, the gable of one roof section is also the house’s main entrance. Colonial-style homes typically feature a front-gable roof.
  • Flying gable roof: The ridgeline of this roof extends beyond the gables on either side, giving it a trapezoid side profile.

Gable Roof Benefits

The simplicity of a gable roof makes this design a viable option for your roof installation. This section explores this roof profile’s benefits:

  • Cost-efficiency: Gable roofs generally require fewer materials and components than hip roofs. Contractors can also use prefab trusses when building gable roofs, reducing costs.
  • Low maintenance requirements: Gable roofs are generally easier to maintain than hip roofs. Exterior walls and siding form a significant part of a gable roof’s construction, unlike a hip roof surface that consists entirely of roofing materials.
  • Low risk of water damage: Gable roofs typically have higher pitches, and fewer seams than hip roofs, allowing unobstructed rainwater runoff with minimal risk of puddling and leaks.

Gable Roof Drawbacks

Is a gable roof the right option for you? Consider the drawbacks below to make an informed decision.

  • Structural limitations: A gable roof has a high pitch and parallel truss structure, which means it is less sturdy than a hip roof. Gable walls are also not aerodynamic, making them susceptible to wind damage.  
  • Prone to installation issues: Due to the relatively steep slope of gable roofs, material installations require sound industrial know-how. Improper installations can lead to loosening materials, leaks, and ventilation problems.

Which Roof Type Is Best for Your Property?

Hip roofs are ideal for homes in areas that experience high winds and inclement weather. However, a gable roof is the better alternative if you need plenty of attic space or have budget restrictions. At Wegner Roofing & Solar, we can help you make an informed roofing decision on hip roof vs gable roof. After inspecting your property and learning more about your needs, we will recommend a roof type that meets your long-term requirements.

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