What Is The Difference Between A Hip Roof And A Gable Roof?

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The roof on a home is not for aesthetic value only, as gable and hip roof designs are practical defenses against the elements. Have you ever looked at a roof and wondered what the differences are between them? We researched various sources to understand the difference between these different roof designs.

In American architecture, it is common to see homes with either a hip or gable roof. But what is the difference between the two?

  • The gable roof is a classic triangle design that is simple and practical in locations where snow and ice are present, allowing precipitation to fall off easily.
  • A hip roof has a rectangular or square shape with sloping sides, and no gable ends. At the top of a hip roof, there is a ridge or a centered beam that is the peak of the roof. Hip roofs were selected for their aesthetic appeal and robustness.

Depending on a homeowner’s needs, a hip or gable roof may be more suitable for improving aesthetic value, structural integrity, and staving off the elements. Keep reading to discover more nuanced points about these two time-tested roof styles.

Collage of a house with hip roof and a house with gable roof, What Is The Difference Between A Hip Roof And A Gable Roof?

Raise The Roof: Hip vs. Gable

The design of a roof is not for aesthetic value alone. Both the hip roof and gable roof are the two most popular styles of roof for American homes.

Hip Roofs

A hip roof has a rectangular or square shape with sloping sides, and no gable ends. At the top of a hip roof, there is a ridge or a centered beam that is the peak of the roof. The points where the roof slopes downward and out at the corners of the structure are called hip rafters. There are also jack rafters adjacent to the hip rafters, and common rafters run on the long walls to the side of the ridge.

The hip roof was practical for southern states’ architecture during the Georgian period during the 18th century. The design naturally offered protection from the sweltering sun and created shady porch areas. In the northern states, hip roofs were mostly decorative. In areas where there are frequent hurricanes, hip roofs are more desirable because they provide greater protection than gable roofs.

Gable Roofs

Gabled roofs consist of two sloping sides that meet in a triangle shape. There are typically two types of homes with gable roofs. Either a home will face the street and be designated a front-gable building, or it is a side-gabled building when the ridge runs parallel to the street.

Gable roofs are desirable because they are easy to build, affordable, and last an average of 40 years. Although a gable roof creates a roomy attic, the design is not ideal for homes in hurricane-prone or windy locations. Hip roofs are desirable because they last 40 to 50 years on average, and the structural design is more stable than gable roofs.

Is a Hip Roof Stronger Than a Gable Roof?

Structurally, the hip roof is more durable and can withstand heavy winds, snowfall, and torrential rainfall than a gable roof. The pitch or slope of a hip roof makes snow slide off easily and doesn’t allow water to pool. Besides adding extra attic space, a hip roof provides greater stability to a structure because it has four sloping sides.

Is a Hip Roof More Expensive?

Prepare to pay the cost for a hip roof when investing in a home. You can cover a hip roof with pretty much any construction material available. However, a hip roof is more expensive than a gable roof because more materials are needed to complete the more complex design. Depending on the style of the hip roof, you should have it professionally installed to prevent potential leaks, water damage and ensure integrity.

Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000 for a hip roof. The price is based on the complexity of the roof’s design, construction material, slope, and size.

Can You Change a Gable Roof Into a Hip Roof?

Instead of shelling out more money to create a hip roof, you can successfully transform an existing gable roof into a hip roof. You should consult a contractor and hire professionals to help you change the structure of your roof. The roof will have to be stripped down so that the joists of the floor underneath and the truss are exposed.

Prepare to spend a considerable amount of time, money, and effort when changing your roof to ensure it is structurally sound and keeps the elements out. Hip roofs require a complex system of trusses or rafters to keep them aloft and durable.

Are There Different Types of Gable Roof Designs?

There are multiple types of gable roofs, each with slight differences in appearance and structure.

  • Box Gable has a triangular-shaped extension on either end of the house, and the end of the roof section is boxed.
  • Front Gable is a signature of Colonial-style homes, with the front of the house facing the street and simple gable is on top.
  • Cross Gable roof typically has multiple gabled rooftops joined together with a complex, perpendicular orientation.
  • Dutch Gable is a cross between a hip roof and a gable roof, with the gable roof placed atop a hip roof, offering more room.

Are There Different Types of Hip Roof Designs?

There are various styles of hip roofs to make a home stand out among the rest.

  • Double-Pitched Hip, which has a high, sloping upper section and a lower slope for the lower section.
  • Mansard style hip roof has a steeper lower section and lower slopping upper section.
  • Jerkin Head or Half-Hip is a hybrid between a hip and a gable roof with a short hip at the top of each gable end.
  • Pavilion style is a hip roof with four equal sloping sides that meet and sit atop a square-shaped building. Pavillion style hip roofs are standard on gazebos.
  • Cross-Hip roofs make an L or T shape and combine intersecting hip roofs. Cross-Hip rooftops are suitable for a home with a built-in garage or addition.

Summary

For American cottages or bungalow-style homes, hip roofs are a popular choice, especially in areas where extreme weather may threaten homes.  Hip roofs are easy to install, require less construction material than gable roofs, and are more stable. Gable roofs are often more expensive and complicated than hip roofs because they rely on multiple trusses or rafters for support. Hip roofs and gable roofs are stylish and last a minimum average of 40 years when professionally installed.

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