What Is a Gable Roof? What to Know Before Buying One

Apr 2, 2023


Viking Contractors




April 2, 2023


May 10, 2024

Got Questions?

What is a gable roof? And how does it make a better option compared to other roofs? You might want answers to these questions when selecting a roof during renovations or building. 

A gable roof is a type of roof that’s strong and of good quality. It lets in a lot of air, so there’s good ventilation. It’s also pretty easy to build and looks good on different buildings, like houses, barns, and stores.

To help you understand gable roofs, we’ll talk about the different styles you can get, some problems you might have, and how to take care of them.

What Exactly Is a Gable Roof?

Remember when you were in second grade and drew pictures of square houses with pointy roofs? That kind of roof is called a gable roof. 

It has two sloping sides that meet at the top to make a triangle shape and is a good and cheap way to make a roof that lets water and snow slide off it easily.

Styles of Gable Roofs

what is gable roof - Corrugated metal roof and metal roofing. Modern roof made of met

There are different ways to build gable roofs, and here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Side-Gable Roof: Here, the roof ridge runs parallel to the side walls of the building, with the sloping sides equal in length.
  • Cross-Gable Roof: This style intersects two or more gable roofs at right angles. The result is a more complex roof shape that can add visual interest to a building.
  • Front-Gable Roof: This style puts the gable at the front of the building, and the top part goes along with the front wall. It’s a popular choice for houses that look traditional or colonial.
  • Dutch Gable Roof: Also known as a gablet roof, this combines elements of a gable roof and a hip roof, with a small gable at the top of a hipped roof.
  • Jerkinhead Roof: This is another hybrid of a gable and a hip roof, where the gable is clipped or truncated, creating a hipped end to the roof.

There are also variations of these styles, like the swept gable roof, which combines the side-gable and asymmetric gable roofs. 

Advantages of Gable Roofs

Below are some reasons gable roofs might be a great addition to your building.

  • Good Ventilation: Because of their shape, hot air can rise to the rooftop and escape through the gable vents, keeping the building cool and comfortable.
  • Simple and Efficient Design: Designing and building a gable roof takes less work, which makes it easy to repair and maintain. This explains why it’s a popular choice for residential and commercial buildings.
  • Adequate Attic Space: If you love to have additional living space, storage, or workspace somewhere secluded in your building, a gable roof provides more attic space than other roof types.
  • Improved Water Drainage: The sloping sides of a gable roof make it easier for rainwater and snow to run off quickly, reducing the risk of leaks or water damage to the building.
  • Versatility: You can design a gable roof from asphalt shingles, metal, tile, or cedar shake. This versatility makes it easy to match it to the style of the building or preferences.

Materials Used for Gable Roofs

There are many options when it comes to materials for building a gable roof. You can pick the one that matches your building’s style and works well with the weather in your area.

Here are some of the best materials for making gable roofs:

  • Asphalt Shingles: This material is used in about one-third of gable roofs. It’s a popular choice because it’s cheap, simple to install, and available in many colors and styles.
  • Metal Roofing: This is a recyclable and long-lasting option for gable roofs. They come in aluminum, steel, and copper.
  • Tile: If you love to add a Mediterranean and Spanish style to your homes, making a gable roof with tiles will make a better first impression. Tile gable roofs are also durable but require additional support due to their weight.
  • Cedar Shake: Cedar shake is a natural and environmentally friendly choice for gable roofs because it’s resistant to insects and decay. However, it needs regular maintenance to prevent moss and algae from growing.
  • Slate: Like tiles, slates are heavy and expensive to install. But they’re fire-resistant and have a unique and elegant appearance.

Wind and Storm Damage: How Gable Roofs Hold Up

Considering their strengths and durability, gable roofs can hold up well during wind and storms. However, the roof design, the quality of the materials used, and the installation process still play a vital role here. 

For one, a steeper pitch design offers a smaller surface area for the wind to exert force, thereby decreasing the likelihood of damage. In areas prone to high winds, materials such as asphalt shingles may be more fitting as they provide excellent wind resistance.

Another way to ensure that gable roofs can withstand high winds is to construct them with sufficient support. This involves ensuring that the roof beams are firmly attached to the building’s structure and adding extra support with straps or clips where the roof meets the walls.

Using overhangs on gable roofs can provide additional protection against wind-driven rain (that may lead to water damage) by shielding the walls and foundation.

Common Issues with Gable Roofs and How to Address Them

While gable roofs are durable, they’re not perfect. You’ll likely face issues with them due to poor maintenance or natural factors beyond your control. 

We’ll highlight some common issues with gable roofs, so you can identify and address them early before the damage worsens. 

  • Leaks: Gable roofs, like other roofs, can have leaks. This might happen because of damaged or old roofing materials, poor installation, or insufficient flashing around chimneys or vents. To fix this, find where the leaks are coming from and replace or repair any damaged roofing materials or flashing.
  • Sagging Roof: A sagging roof can signal structural damage or inadequate support. To address this issue, contact a professional roofer like Viking Contractors to assess the extent of the damage and determine the best course of action.
  • Ice Dams: Ice dams can form on gable roofs in places where it gets cold. This can make the water get stuck and potentially leak into the building. To fix this problem, install good insulation and ventilation to keep the heat inside the building and stop ice dams from forming.
  • Animal Damage: Animals, like birds and squirrels, can damage gable roofs. They might put nesting stuff in the gutters or scratch and chew it. To fix this, check your roof often for signs of animal activities. You can also cover the vents, so animals can’t get through.


A gable roof is a simple and cheap design with many advantages, like making more space inside, better ventilation, and is strong against the wind. But like any roof, you need to look after it and check on it often so it keeps working well and lasts a long time.

We recommend talking to roofing experts if you want to care for your gable roof. Viking Contractors is an experienced roofing expert who can provide advice and tips on keeping your gable roof in good shape. Schedule a free roof inspection today.

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