SHAPES OF ROOFS
- Gable. Have you ever
watched a group of kindergartners draw pictures of their homes? The
drawings are often remarkably similar. In North America, a simple square
topped by a triangle has come to symbolize home and all its comforts.
And no wonder. The classic gable-or triangular-roof dates back to
ancient Greece. Inspired by the Parthenon and other great temples, early
builders in Northern Europe constructed homes with triangular gables
at the front or the sides. Many American housing styles, from Colonial
to Contemporary, have gable roofs. The triangular forms are often echoed
in dormers, door pediments, porches, and wings.
- A-frame. Introduced
in 1957 by the architect Andrew Geller, an A-frame home is all roof
with no perpendicular walls. These distinctive A-shaped homes are usually
built as vacation cottages.
- Saltbox. Named after
the boxes used to store salt during Colonial times, a saltbox roof forms
a lopsided triangle. The slanting saltbox shape became popular during
Colonial times when low, one-story rooms were added to the rear of taller
homes. Twentieth-century Split Level homes also can have a saltbox roofline,
usually facing the front.
- Shed. Often used for
porches, a shed roof is essentially half a gable. The simple, streamlined
shape is a favorite for Contemporary homes.
- Gambrel. A gambrel
roof is a gable with a slight bend on each side. This popular roofing
shape, often used for barns, is a hallmark of the Dutch Colonial style.
- Hipped. A hipped (or
hip) roof slopes down to the eaves on all four sides. It may form a
perfect pyramid with a single point at top, or it may slope down from
a ridge. Hipped roofs are often found on French-inspired, American Foursquare,
and a variety of Colonial and Victorian styles.
- Mansard. Nearly flat
on top, a mansard roof slopes almost vertically down on all four sides.
In 17th-century France, this elegant style became popular because it
created extra living space in the attic. In the United States, mansard
roofs are a hallmark of the Second-Empire style. You also may find variations
of the mansard roof shape on Contemporary homes.