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3 min read

Gable Roof: What You Need to Know


3 min read

Gable Roof: What You Need to Know

RoofGable Roof: What You Need to Know

One of the most common types of roof in Canada, the gable roof, is all the rage right now, in due part to its modern aesthetic, but also because of the many positive features it adds to a house. So, are you thinking of building a gable roof over your house? If so, you might be looking for more information about gable roofs to know for sure whether you’re making the right choice. Check out the following to learn more about the different types, advantages, coverings, and accessories available for gable roofs. 

The Gable Roof 

House with gable roof

Source: paulbr75 - Pixabay

The gable-type roof refers specifically to the flat, triangular section found on the front end of the roof’s two slopes. This triangular surface is known as the “gable” and is the main feature of “gable” roofs. The gable isn’t composed of roofing materials, but rather from materials used for a house’s exterior wall, like siding or stone. 

Depending on the homeowner's taste, the gable roof can take more or less complex shapes, ranging from a traditional two-sided design to a more modern multi-sided design. Gable roofs are a preferred choice for homes located in colder, northern climates.

Pros and Cons of a Gable End Roof

Choosing the right type of roof for your house can sometimes be quite a difficult and truly challenging mission to accomplish. However, when making your final decision, remember to take into account a number of factors, such as the weather conditions you’re facing, the roof’s wind-resistance capacity, and the amount of space you wish to have in your attic. Now, let's take a look at the selling points which have, for decades, made the gable roof so desirable:

  • Low-priced: One of the main advantages of a gable roof is its affordability. Indeed, building a gable roof doesn’t require a lot of materials, as opposed to other roof types, such as the hip roof.

  • Easily drains rainwater: The gable roof is composed of two downward-sloped roof sections, which facilitates rainwater flow to avoid stagnant water from pooling on the surface, often seen atop flat roofs. 

  • Space gain in the attic: The gable roof enables you to gain space in your attic. You can dispose of its setting as you see fit, whether that be for a living room, bedroom, playroom, or workshop. Let it be known that a considerable slope allows for even more space gain. 

  • Good resistance to snow: This type of roof is especially popular in heavily snow-covered areas. This is because the gable roof is designed to prevent snow from easily building up on the rooftop, meaning there are fewer risks of the roof collapsing under the weight of the snow.

  • Adequate ventilation: The gable protects the home from humidity build-up.

  • Several roofing options: With a gable roof, you have the possibility of choosing between several different roofing materials. 

  • Aesthetic value: Gables can be used to create a more modern architectural vibe. Pediments, gable brackets, or other decorative elements and ornaments can be used to personalize the building and set it apart from the other neighbouring houses.

Note that one mustn’t confuse the hip roof with the gable roof. Both have very distinctive, yet similar features, but can be set apart due to a number of elements, most notably by the shape of the roof.  

Amongst the drawbacks encountered, let it be known that the gable roof is:

  • Not built to resist strong gusts of wind: This type of roof structure isn’t suited for areas subjected to strong gusts of wind. The sloped shape of the roof makes it vulnerable to high winds which, at high speeds, can lift the roof off the structure and cause it to collapse.

  • Difficult to put together: Overall, building a gable roof is relatively simple. However, one can be posed with a number of different obstacles during installation. Indeed, in some cases, the height of the walls can be uneven from one side to the other, given the design of the slopes. Therefore, it’s best to install this type of roof when building the actual structure. It isn’t really easy to switch from one type of roof to another style, like a gable roof. 

Types of Gable Roofs

House with gable roof

Source: Mike B - Pexels

There are several different models of gable roofs on the market:

  • Open gable roof: This is a traditional gable roof made from the home’s siding material.

  • Box gable roof: This type of gable roof is rather enclosed and extended.

  • Cross gable roof: The cross gable roof is a mix of two right-angle roof gable sections.

  • Saltbox roof: Entails an asymmetrical, colonial-style open gable roof. Here, one of the roof’s slopes is much more extended than the other one, which gives the house a much more spacious appearance. 

  • Gambrel roof: Most often used for barns, the gambrel roof has two different slopes. Here, the gable doesn’t have a triangular shape, but rather a more complex shape.

Some roofs are made up of hips and gables. Amongst these we have:

  • Jerkinhead: This one is very much like the open gable roof and is characterized by a little covering at the top of the gable. 

  • Intersecting: As for the intersection gable roof, it looks a little bit as if a hip roof and a gable roof were laid atop each other, at a 90-degree angle.

  • Dutch: The dutch gable roof, seen from a bird’s eye view, closely resembles the open gable roof but flares out into hips over the rest of the roof.

What Type of Covering Is Best for Gable Roofs?

As above-mentioned, with the gable roof, any roof covering material is an option. However, it’s important to choose a material that can resist strong gusts of wind considering the pitch of the slopes.

You can choose to go with asphalt or steel shingles, both of which are materials that fit rather well with the pitch of the slopes. You can also choose the cover your gable roof with slate. You can either choose between natural or synthetic slate. And, for those with a surplus of creativity and an ingenious mind, you can possibly transform your gable roof into a green roof.

Ideas for Gable Roof Accessories

Below are some ideas of accessories that could add value and a bit of flair to your gable roof:

  • Rafters: Favour wooden models. They’re also available in several different models: straight, more or less curved, etc.

  • Gable vents: These can be used to ventilate the roof, or simply serve as a decorative element. You can find multiple different versions of vents, such as rectangular, triangular, round, etc. 

  • Decorative brackets: There are several styles of decorative brackets. Place them in specific areas to improve the aesthetic appearance of the gable. In fact, these mountings help bridge gaps or hide certain flaws that can be detected on the gable.

  • Mouldings: Not only are mouldings a nice finishing touch, but they also add value to your house. You’ll find various different models available on the market. 

  • Lighting: Add light fixtures to the gables to enhance the overall look of the house and draw attention to the roof and its decorative elements.

  • Using a different siding: Use a different type of siding than what’s used on the rest of the house, as it can add significant value to your home. For example, you can use sidings such as cedar shingles, which don't really require much maintenance or a coat of stain.

  • Rural-like accessories: These accessories can help soften the sometimes too-strict linearity of the gable, for a warmer and more welcoming look.

  • Mingling elements: Combine several styles on your gable roof to add a bit of flair to your building. For example, one can affix cedar shingles with horizontal siding to go along with the moulding. 

Examples of Aesthetically Pleasing Gable Roof Ornaments

Here are a few ornaments you could add to your gable roof:

  • Gable decoration ornament;

  • Finial wing;

  • Octagonal cedar shingle;

  • Gable spire;

  • Curved gable decoration ornament;

  • Small gable decoration ornament;

  • Large gable decoration ornament.

Cover image source: Scott Webb - Pexels

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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