Gambrel Roof Pros and Cons

small red house with wide gambrel roof

Is a gambrel roof the right option for you? If you are thinking of replacing a roof, a gambrel roof might be top of mind. But there are many other options as well. Before committing to a gambrel roof, you should understand the pros and cons of having one, as well as other roof types.

What Is a Gambrel Roof?

A gambrel roof is a symmetrical roof with two slopes on each side. The higher slope is usually at a shallow angle and the lower slope is steeper. Some people use the gambrel roof and mansard roof interchangeably. Other names for a gambrel roof include Dutch colonial roofs.

The roof looks similar to an arch and is typically found on barns, garages, sheds, and Dutch colonial buildings. There are three types of gambrel roofs: the gable gambrel, the dormer gambrel, and the valley gambrel.


wide gambrel roof

There are a lot of reasons why gambrel roofs have stood the test of time as a popular roofing option. The main reason, though, is the space it offers. The steep sides increase the amount of headspace under the roof. This means more living space or storage space if the gambrel roof is part of a shed or barn.

Gambrel roofs have also stuck around because, no pun intended, they stick around. Gambrel roofs are known for lasting longer than some other roof types. Part of this may be due to the variety of materials a gambrel roof can be built with. They can be constructed from anything from wood, to asphalt, to slate. If you are looking to build a gambrel roof, consult an expert about what material makes the most sense for you.

Gambrel roofs can also save you money. As mentioned, these roofs can last a long time and save you on replacement costs. They are also easier to construct than some other roof types. They do not have a large number of beans or columns, which makes them easier and faster to build than other roof types. This can save you on construction costs, or make it a project you can DIY.

The roofs also can save you money because they offer better drainage than non-sloped roofs which can save you from having to add other drainage systems.


    large red barn on twitter with damaged roof

    Despite the many advantages to a gambrel roof, there are a few issues you should be aware of before adding one to your home. First, despite being a long-lasting roofing option, gambrel roofs can wear unevenly. You will need to do regular maintenance checks on the roof. Another downside to gambrel roofs is that they are hard to upgrade or patch up. This means if only part of it is worn out, you may need to replace the whole roof.

    Gambrel roofs also do not always do well with snow. The side of the roof with less slope can see snow pile up on top of it. Too much snow can be dangerous. You will, therefore, have to check to see how much snow is on your roof if you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow in the winter months.

    Similarly, gambrel roofs will also require quite a bit of waterproofing to prevent your home from being damaged by heavy rainfall or snowfall.

    Other Roof Types

    wide roofing with multiple levels

    There are a lot of roof types to consider beyond just the gambrel roof. The gable roof, or pitched roof, is one of the most common roof types in the U.S. These roofs have a triangular appearance. Due to their high slope, gable roofs do very well with snow and rain and are often found in parts of the country where this is a concern. The high pitch of the roof also lends itself well to vaulted ceilings or high attic spaces.

    More modern houses, as well as commercial buildings, may use a flat roof. These differ from gable roofs in that they are, as their name suggests, flat. One of the main benefits of these roofs is that the roof can be used as outdoor space.

    Flat roofing is popular in areas like California where there is little rainfall and people spend a lot of time outside. Flat roofs can also be used to store solar panels to make the home greener. On the downside, however, buildings with a flat roof can have some water issues.

    Other popular roof types include the butterfly, a v-shaped roof, and the bonnet, which is like a reverse mansard roof.