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A homeowner’s guide to residential roof types

Residential roof types.

A roof can make or break your home. Whether your home has suffered from storm damage or your shingles are starting to curl, if it looks like your roof is ready for replacement, you’ll want to make sure that you choose an option that keeps out the weather, protects your family, seals off your home from pests — and looks great, too.

Homeowners aren’t always roofing experts. Your average neighborhood resident would probably have a tough time distinguishing one style of roofing from another. Many don’t know which roof type is best for their location.

Some roofing styles look and function better on certain homes in particular areas. A flat roof on a Washington, D.C. or Boston, Mass. row home is a classic look. Build a house with a flat roof in Richmond’s Carytown and you may get some sideways glances.

How do you choose the roofing style that best suits your needs? Here are some of the most common residential roof shapes.

Gable Roofs

Gable roof example.

A gable roof forms a triangle, with two sides meeting at the roof’s highest point. A cross gable roof structure consists of two triangular gables forming a 90-degree angle.

Gable roofs are often popular in colder climates (they’re handy in the snow!) and when homeowners want to build attics or have vaulted ceilings. Gable roofs can also provide additional ventilation in your home.  

Read: 3 reasons why roof ventilation is important for your home

Hipped Roofs

Hipped roof example.

Hipped roofs have four slopes of equal length on all four sides that meet at the top to form a ridge.

Hipped roofs are often the safest type of roof because the roof’s shape distributes the weight from ice and snow. Hipped roofs also withstand heavy winds, making them the best choice for places prone to hurricanes.

Additionally, the space underneath hipped roofs allows homeowners to build attic rooms or add vaulted ceilings.

Cross Hipped Roofs 

Cross hipped roofs are comprised of two hipped roofs that intersect with one another, usually forming either an L shape — in which the two hips intersect at their ends — or a T shape, in which they intersect in the middle.

Like hipped roofs, cross hip roofs are weather and wind resistant.

Flat Roofs

Flat roof examples.

You’ll commonly find flat roofs in neighborhoods with older housing stock. Believe it or not, flat roofs often are not entirely flat, but rather have slopes of at least 1/4 inch per foot. This less dramatic slope (or the horizontal change in distance across a roof) contrasts with newer, steeper roofs.

Flat roofs have their benefits, however: they’re often more energy efficient than other roof types, and some HVAC components can be installed on top, offering homeowners more space inside.

Read: A comprehensive guide to flat roof systems

Shed Roofs

Example of a shed roof.

Unlike other roof types, shed roofs are single planes that slope downward.

Shed roofs are used in homes that have one higher wall and one lower wall, and are also used to connect homes with lower porch roofs.

Although they’re typically chosen because of a property’s wall heights, shed roofs make a statement aesthetically, too. They were popular on homes in the 70s and 80s when the architecture was first introduced.

Pyramid Hip Roofs

Pyramid roof example.

Like the name suggests, pyramid hip roofs have four sections that come together in a peaked tip. Each side slopes down towards the walls and has at least three rectangular faces.

Pyramid hip roofs are often chosen for their weather and wind resistance — because of their shape, they’re more aerodynamic than other roof types. They also have natural insulation and drainage capabilities.


Roof dormers example.

Dormers are home additions that extend above or out of a home’s current roof, allowing homeowners with limited space for expansion to build upwards.

Dormers offer homeowners more light (they often have windows), higher ceilings, and even additional space for rooms. Adding dormers to your home can add value, character, and attractiveness, both inside and out.

Ready for a roof replacement?

A roof replacement is a major renovation project. Work with Long Roofing to ensure that your home is equipped with a strong, protective roof. We’ve earned a SELECT ShingleMaster™ roof replacement accreditation, a distinction that only one percent of roofers in the United States have earned.

Contact Long Roofing at 844-602-LONG or visit us online to request an estimate. A licensed professional will come to your home for a free, no obligation assessment to replace your old roof with a beautiful new roof with a 50-year warranty.  We build trust and peace of mind into every Long Roof.


*On initial visit only. Minimum purchase required. For windows, three or more windows required. Cannot be combined with other offers. Prior sales excluded. Some exclusions may apply. Discounts not valid on restoration division purchases. Offer expires 5/25/19.