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Hip vs. Gable Roof: What are Their Differences?

Hip vs. gable roof

The purpose of your roof is to protect the structure of your home as well as all of its contents, including you and your family. While most residential homes are sloped so that water, sleet, and melting snow can run off into the gutter system, there are a variety of options when it comes to roof design that can impact how efficiently your roof protects your home against weather. 

Two common roof types we see on homes in both New England and the D.C. metro area are hip roofs and gable roofs.

The main difference between a hip and gable roof are the slopes on its sides. On a hipped roof, all sides slope downward to the home’s walls. Gable roofs only have two triangle-shaped slopes that extend from the bottom of the roof’s eaves to the peak of its ridge.

To help homeowners decide which roof style is right for them, let’s break down the differences between gable and hip roofs.

Hip roof on a house

What is a Hip Roof?

A hip roof doesn’t have any vertical ends. This means that it is sloped on all sides and the slopes all meet at the peak of the roof of a square structure, and if the structure is a rectangle, the ends slope inward to form a ridge with the adjacent sides.

You can determine the difference between gable and hip roof by checking if all the roof sides slope down to the home’s walls, and the walls sit under the eaves on all sides of the roof. 

Pros

Stability

While gable roofs are more common in the United States, hip roofs are actually more stable, which is one of their biggest wins in the hip versus gable roof comparison. Their inward slope on all four sides and self-bracing design make them sturdy, durable roofing options, making them to be an excellent choice for homeowners who live in areas with a lot of snow and high winds. 

Consistent Eaves All Around the House

The consistent look all around the house with even eaves and roof sizes can help make your home more aesthetically pleasing. Gable roofs look different on each side (since, obviously, they include gables), and while some homeowners might not mind the inconsistency in appearance, many prefer consistent eaves all around the house.

If you’re one of the latter, then hip roofs win the hip versus gable roof comparison.

Used for Lower Roof Slopes

Low roof slopes can be difficult to roof in some cases since some roof types require a steep slope to work properly. Hip roofs, however, can be used on low-sloping roofs and be very stable. If you’re dealing with a low slope to your roof, a hip roof could be the right roofing option for you.

Cons

More Expensive

When comparing gable and hip roofs, you must consider the cost. While they are sturdier and more durable, hip roofs tend to be more expensive than gable roofs, another of the most noteworthy differences in a gable roof versus hip roof comparison.

Hip roofs tend to be complex in design, requiring more materials and skill to install. When installed properly, they are a very stable, reliable roofing option, but you’ll have to pay for that stability and reliability.

Fortunately, Long Roofing offers a variety of payment options to make roofing upgrades more affordable.

Susceptible to Leaks Around Dormers and Seams

If a hip roof is improperly installed, they can be susceptible to water leaks around the roof’s dormers or additional seams.

This is why you never want to work with an inexperienced roofer when installing your hip roof, since the money they might be able to save you on installation will be nothing compared to the expense of repairing the bad installation, or even getting a whole new installation. Only ever work with roofing professionals who have the right experience.

Less Space in the Attic Because of Slopes

When looking at the difference between hip and gable roofs to find the best option for your home, you must consider the slope of your roof. With sloping on all sides of the roof, hip roofs don’t allow for nearly as much attic space as gable roofs. If your priority in a roof is to have as much attic space as possible, then a hip roof will not be your best option.

Hip Roof Variations

Here are some hip roof variations to consider.

Half-Hip Roof

A half-hip roof is typically an add-on to a gable roof. Sometimes called a clipped-gable or a jerkin-head roof, this type of roof depicts a small modification of a gable roof. It occurs when the end of the gable includes a small hip roof section sloping off the ridge.

Pavilion Roof

This is a type of hip roof built on a square structure. That means that all sides of the roof meet at one center peak. Because of its triangular shape, this type of roof is often referred to as a pyramid roof. 

Mansard Roof

This type of hip roof has slopes that vary in their angles. Often called a French roof or a Curb roof, this roof type becomes flatter at the top and typically has a drop-off at the midpoint of the slope, creating an interesting, multi-surfaced roof.

What is a Gable Roof?

A gable roof consists of triangle-shaped slopes extending from the bottom of the roof’s eaves to the peak of the ridge. As opposed to hip roofs, where all slopes meet under the roof’s eaves, gable roofs only have two slopes and the remaining space is enclosed with the home’s wall.

Gable roofs are also known as pitched or peaked roofs and are some of the most common roof types for residential homes in America.

Gable roof on a house

Pros

Sheds Water and Snow

Gable roofs do a great job of shedding water, snow, and other debris—the main job of a roof. The easier that your roof can shed itself of any debris and weather elements, the longer it will be able to last since no debris, ice, or snow will be sitting around to cause damage to your roof. It also means your roof will require less maintenance.

More Ventilation With Attic Space

When comparing a gable roof versus hip roof, attic space is one of the biggest differences. In a hip roof, there isn’t a lot of space at all in the attic since each side of the roof is sloped. Gable roofs, on the other hand, provide plenty of space in the attic with their vaulted ceilings. This also allows more air ventilation in your home.

More Affordable

A big difference between hip and gable roofs is the price. We already know that hip roofs are more expensive. Gable roofs, with their simple design and easy construction, are far more affordable than many other complex roofing designs, beyond just hip roofs.

Cons

Less Durable With Wind and Snow

Gable roofs can’t really compare to hip roofs when it comes to dealing with high-wind and snow areas. They can be problematic for areas that are prone to hurricanes and other storms. If they are improperly framed and constructed with poor support, gable roofs are known to collapse against strong winds.

Additionally, if there is too much of an overhang, high winds can create an uplift against the gables (or the home’s walls) and cause the roof to detach.

If you’re using a gable roof in a high-wind area, be sure it is installed using proper braces and check the roof after a high-wind storm.

A Simple Design With Less Curb Appeal

Gable roofs are typically constructed of a simple design. While some homeowners may be drawn to this simplicity, it doesn’t do much to increase your home’s curb appeal. The complexity of a hip roof—while more expensive—tends to appeal to more people.

Gable Roof Variations

Here are some gable roof variations to consider.

Front Gable Roof 

A front gable roof is a pretty common design for Colonial-style homes where the front of the house is actually the gable. In this type of roof, typically the front door of the home goes under the gable, offering an inviting focal point to the front of the home.

Cross-Gable Roof

A cross-gable roof consists of two or more lines of gable roof intersecting at an angle. This roofing style is usually seen in homes with different wings of the home, or even an attached garage. All the separate sections (or wings) of the home are roofed by their own section of gable roofing.

Dutch Gable Roof

A dutch gable roof is a mix of a gable roof and a hip roof, complicating the gable versus hip roof discussion. In a dutch gable roof, the gable is placed on top of the hip roof, allowing more space in a loft or attic space.

Roof on a house

What’s Your Preferred Roofing Style?

With our SELECT ShingleMaster™ roof replacement accreditation, a distinction given to only one percent of roofers in the United States, the roofing experts at Long Roofing can tackle whatever roofing style fits your home. Visit Long online or call us at 844-602-LONG to request an estimate and get a free in-home consultation.

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