Simple and inexpensive to build, the gable roof remains one of the most common residential types. Shaped similar to a saddle, a gable roof has two sections of equal size that meet in the middle of the ridge-line and slope downward. The two triangular end sections, called gables, give this roof its shape. Gable roofs are versatile either alone or combined with other roof types to create additional forms.
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The side gable roof faces the street with a clean ridge-line while concealing the gables on the ends. However, this roof style usually requires a wider lot. Dormers and small windows that sit on a sloped roof add a visual appeal to the side gable style. From the small, plain ranch home to the large Georgian house, a side gable roof suits many design styles.
Used often for Cape Cod and Colonial style houses, the front gable offers a visually pleasing appearance. Fashionable in the 19th century in the U.S., this type has the gables at the front and back of the house. It is well suited to narrower lots, and many homes with a front gable roof also have front porches.
Two gable ridge-lines that join at a 90-degree or right angle form a cross gable roof. Found in English Tudor home styles, cross gable roofs permit more complex floor plans, which frequently include a parlour, formal dining room and a spacious second story. Bay windows are typical on homes with cross gabled roofs.
A Dutch or Flemish gable roof type combines features of a gable with a hip roof, pyramid-shape, that gives additional space along the ridge-line. An architecture style of the renaissance throughout Europe, the Dutch gable has elaborate decorative features, including curves with a pediment or a triangular section, commonly used in Greek architecture.
Traditionally built in colder and wetter climates, gables evenly sloped sides allow snow and rain to run off quickly. It offers the largest ceiling space and gives good ventilation for the house through its crawl space.
The gable is one of the weakest roof types in high winds, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Heavy winds can catch the edge of the slope, which acts like a sail, and lift it off. The end walls are vulnerable and may collapse because of inadequate support to the gables.
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