13 Roof Designs - Pros & Cons

Planning your new home or renovation is extremely fun but also requires lots of thought. We have prepared a list of the common roof designs and their styles. The pros and cons followed by each roof may assist you in your decision on the kind of roof you would like. Most often it is best to allow the designer to choose the roof, however, for those who appreciate the benefit of knowledge in design and construction this is for you! 

Common Roof Designs & Styles

The blog includes the following roof designs:

  1. Bonnet
  2. Butterfly
  3. Curved
  4. Dome
  5. Flat
  6. Gable
  7. Gambrel
  8. Hipped
  9. Jerkinhead
  10. Mansard
  11. Pyramid
  12. Saltbox
  13. Sawtooth

1. Bonnet Roof

bonnet-roof-design

The bonnet roof is a double sloped roof with the lower slope at a lesser angle than the higher slope. This is ideal for a home with a large open porch area.

Pros

  • Spacious attic
  • Creation of dormers
  • Good drainage/water run-off design option

Cons

  • Complex construction - combining two elements (different slope)
  • Water can easily build up in the valleys (join between two roof portions) and lead to leakage/damage
  • More expensive than a normal hipped roof due to complexity of construction

2. Butterfly Roof

butterfly-roof-design

As the name goes, the butterfly roof is similar to the open wings of a butterfly creating a V shape. Although the butterfly roof is a modern and aesthetically pleasing option it can be quite the headache.

Pros

  • High windows are available using this roof method due to the height of the wall, bringing a large amount of light in and entertaining the "open" feel of a modern design.
  • Sustainability - great lighting and space for solar panels. Water run off can also be captured and used simply.

Cons

  • Price - the complexity of the design comes at a price! 
  • Maintenance - if you don't want to be up on the roof cleaning clogged up gutters or repairing leaks this roof is not for you. Any box gutter does need to have a clear path for water and blockage will harm the drainage.

3. Curved Roof 

curved-roof-design

A curved roof is similar to a skillion roof but the slope is curved. This is achieved bending the metal to create different shapes like a cloud, shell, arch or simple curve.

Pros

  • Avoids height restrictions by curving and not going up at a high slope/angle
  • Clean and unique look, the irregular shapes that are possible are definitely unique.

Cons

  • The cost required to design and construct a unique shape is not as cheap as a traditional roofing system.

4. Dome Roof

dome-roof-design

The dome roof can be traced back to the early Mesopotamia which explains the large use throughout various cultures. The architectural line of the roof goes back to pre-historic times where natural earth materials were used like mud and stone. The symbolic side reflects mortuaries and religious buildings. 

Dome roofs spread from the Hellenistic architectural buildings through to the architecture of Persian, Roman, Chinese and many more. As mathematics and science advanced so did the kind of domes so even more unique shapes were created. Modern buildings that have dome roofs are religious buildings, government/legislative buildings and functional structures like stadiums.

Pros

  • Stunning and powerful appearance, aesthetically pleasing roof design
  • Great wind resistance and durability
  • Extra space and good energy efficiency (heating costs reduced by 75% in some cases)

Cons

  • Expensive to build (don't shy away just yet, some dome roofs are pre-fabricated and can be affordable)
  • Strange shape may not be appealing to all, which could mean lower value of home for prospective buyer

5. Flat Roof

flat-roof-design

Flat roofs are not completely flat, there is a slight pitch so water can flow to the gutters. These roofs are found in residential, commercial and industrial areas. Small addition renovation projects include flat roofs due to the cheaper cost.

Pros

  • Affordable roof construction option - the simplicity of a flat roof means the build is faster and easier, making it cheaper
  • Extra living space - the flat roof does not have an angle as great as the other roofs which means it can be much higher, allowing for extra high ceilings
  • A flat roof can also be used for a rooftop space or entertaining area
  • Solar panels and AC units can be placed on this roof

Cons

  • Shorter life span. The pouring rainfall attacks this roof with no angle to deflect the force of rain. This can shorten the life of these roofs (10-15 years).
  • Heat - the flat roof (even when insulated) is a heat absorbing design. This can mean a really sticky summer!
  • Leakage can occur especially when the roof is under 2 degrees. This can be a costly experience

6. Gable Roof

gable-roof-design

The gable roof has been used for a variety of architectural styles, distinctly the "Californian bungalow" seen in many areas of Sydney such as Canterbury. The triangular portion under the roof pitches is the "gable". 

Pros

  • The pitch is great for snow/water to roll off - good drainage
  • A spacious attic is created above the ceiling by the pitch
  • Easily ventilated and high ceilings offered by this design

7. Gambrel Roof

gambrel-roof-design

Much like the mansard and bonnet roof, the gambrel roof has two different slopes (the lowest portion is for guttering). These roofs can be seen on Dutch Colonial and Georgian houses as well as farm houses and barns.

Pros

  • Price - reasonably simple build relying on two roof beams
  • Attic space is accessible and can be designed to have good space
  • Has a historic character which can be followed

Cons

  • Maintenance is required quite frequently
  • Not a high wind resistance (traditional framing is weak however specialty framework can fix this)
  • Not the best for roof drainage - lower slope may leak with heavy water falls

8. Hipped Roof 

hipped-roof-design

The hipped roof is a common roof design option used in Australian houses. The hipped roof offers a great look with excellent drainage as all slopes have a fall (generally 22.5-25 degrees) and the construction is not very complex.

Pros

  • Great stability - highly resistant to wind and snow (a higher pitch than the general should be utilized for wind resistance). 
  • Many falls so water drainage is no problem
  • Storage/attic space inclusive

Cons

  • As most of the less simple roofs, the hipped roof comes at a higher price
  • Possible leak if not installed correctly due to valleys

9. Jerkinhead Roof

jerkinhead-roof-design

The jerkinhead roof is similar to a gable/hipped roof except it has two ends clipped short (also known as a clipped gable). The jerkinhead roof is a common roof design as it provides good wind resistance as well as the architectural elements it provides.

Pros

  • Stability - the clipped ends provide wind resistance
  • Attic and storage also included
  • Appealing design, not simple looking

Cons

  • Again, complexity of construction raises cost

10. Mansard Roof

mansard-roof-design

The Mansard roof design is another which has four slopes, the upper slope having a lesser steep than the lower slope. 

Pros

  • Allows for future renovations (dormers)
  • Has attic/storage space available

Cons

  • Lower pitch portion does not defend itself from snow too well (due to pitch)
  • Can be expensive to construct
  • Working on a mansard roof is difficult 

11. Pyramid Roof

pyramid-roof-design

The pyramid roof design is a simple pyramid, with four sloping sides that are symmetrical. 

Pros

  • Wind resistant
  • Simple construction
  • Allows for future renovations

Cons

  • Not a very funky roof design 
  • Point can become very high (and pointy!)

12. Saltbox Roof

saltbox-roof-design

The saltbox roof design is an a-symmetrical roof design with a fairly flat roof and on the opposite end, a roof with a greater pitch. They were originally developed to achieve more space.

Pros

  • More space (almost turns a single storey into a one and a half storey)
  • Can be used for renovation projects

Cons 

  • Build & repair is more difficult
  • Design is not as appealing as other options
  • Some rooms may need slanted ceilings

13. Sawtooth Roof

sawtooth-roof-design

Similar to a saw blade, the sawtooth roof has multiple parralel pitches followed by a parallel vertical surface. This roof design was traditionally an industrial building roof style (seen on many warehouses) but it is now being used frequently in residential buildings.

Pros

  • Natural lighting is easily achieved through high windows
  • Awesome looking roof! 
  • Easily provides high ceilings
  • Has plenty of space for solar panels

Cons

  • Due to the valleys of a sawtooth roof, it is definitely known as a high maintenance roof. Water can easily leak where the valleys fall if there is a blockage.
  • Much more complex than other roofs, reflected by the price

Thanks for reading our roof designs blog post! We hope you enjoyed it and learnt a few new roof styles. As with anything, careful and considerate planning will return a great outcome. The many roofs have their own set of suitability which is what should be taken into consideration for your prospective works.