Hip Roof vs Gable Roof: A Simple Comparison

Hip roofs and gable roofs are two types of roofing systems you can use to cover the top part of your home. These are the two most common roof types you’ll find on homes across the country, but they have some apparent differences between them. Understanding these roof types and their advantages and disadvantages can help you choose the right roof type for your home. 

Gable roofs are traditionally found on ranch-style homes, whereas hip roofs have a modern, stylish appearance and come in many different shapes and sizes. The main difference between gable roofs and hip roofs is their form. Hip roofs have triangular sides, while gable roofs have sloped sides that meet at each end of the house.

Both have their pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which one is the best fit for your project needs. Before you make your final decision, take time to learn more about what sets these roof styles apart from each other so you can make the most informed choice possible.

What is a hip roof?

A hip rooftop can be quickly recognized as it has slants of equivalent length on every one of the four sides, which meet up at a single top point if the structure is square-shaped. In the case of a rectangular frame, two opposite sides have triangle-shaped slopes while the other two sides form a trapezoid shape. These four roof sides form a ridge at the top instead of ending at one peak point.

A hip roof
Arial view of a hip roof

Moreover, a hip rooftop doesn’t have any vertical ends. Instead, all sides of a hip roof slope towards the house walls and cover them with eaves around the four sides.

Some common variations of the hip roof are:

  • Pyramid /Pavilion roof
  • Mansard roof
  • Half-hip roof
  • Tented roof
  • Dutch-gable roof

What is a gable roof?

A gable roof has two sloping sides with at least one triangular-shaped flat-faced end, which is called a gable. This flat end comprises the same material as the rest of the home’s exterior. Depending on the home’s design, a gable roof may consist of one or two flat faces or gables. It is a traditional roof style in cold climates, especially on the east coast of Canada.

A gable roof
A gable roof

Gable roofs can be of several types. Such as:

  • Open gable roof
  • Box gable roof
  • Cross gable roof
  • Flying gable roof
  • Gambrel roof

Hip roof vs gable roof – A comparison

The hip and gable roofs are two standard roofs used on houses and buildings today. A home can have both types of roofs, but often only one or the other. So which one is better, hip roof or gable roof? The answer to that question depends on many factors that you need to consider before deciding. And while there are no absolute correct answers, I’ll help you understand what each type of roof has to offer so you can make the best decision according to your needs.

Hip roof  Gable roof 
Aesthetically more beautiful Plain-looking design
Highly wind resistant Easily damaged with strong winds
Mediocre snow performance Better snow performance
Easier to build Complex to build
Less attic space Provides spacious attic space
More material and labor costs Less expensive construction
Allows combination of different roof styles Allows combination of different roof styles
May get insurance discount Cannot bring insurance discount
Not much energy efficiency More energy efficient
The design doesn’t allow vents Better ventilation with gable vents
Hip roof vs gable roof

Design aesthetics

Generally speaking, both gable and hip roofs are equally beautiful. The aesthetics of a hip roof are perhaps a bit more striking, but that can also depend on your neighborhood and what’s expected in your area, depending upon the weather. Also, gable roofs are more common in industrial architecture and are simpler designs. So, if you want something that stands out from other homes on your block, then you might consider going with a hip roof. 

Ease of construction

According to home builders, gable roof construction is more complex than hip roof construction as the walls have to be of different heights for a gable roof to accommodate the sloping roof. Plus, it needs more time and expertise to install extra brackets to make it more wind resistant.

On the other side, hip roofs are much easier to construct, making them a popular roof choice in suburban areas.

Wind pressure resistance 

A hip roof can tolerate more high wind pressure than a gable roof. This difference lies in the surface area of both roof styles. Hip roofs can efficiently brace the wind pressure because they have lower pitches, less surface area, and a structurally durable design. On the other hand, gable roofs are unsuitable for hurricane-prone areas because their large surface area catches too much wind pressure resulting in lost shingles or roof detachment during strong winds.

Moreover, because of this reason, many insurance companies offer a discount to homeowners who have a hip roof installed on their homes.

Snow performance

Gable roofs perform exceptionally well in heavy snow areas because the high pitch of the gable roof allows for an effortless shedding of rain and snow. Hip roofs are not as good in snow performance, but their robust construction can easily withstand the weight of heavy snow. And as all roofs are constructed according to the building code’s snow load standards, you don’t need to worry about snow accumulation due to the lower pitch of hip roofs.

Additionally, hip roofs with advanced construction perform very well in windy regions, so many homeowners prefer hip roofs over gable roofs in windy areas that also get heavy snowfall.

Attic space

A Gable roof gives more usable attic space because of its design. Many homeowners would love to have safe storage space for their valuable belongings, and gable roofs provide precisely this advantage. This space can even be used as an additional bedroom or an office. 

Contrary to gable roofs, hip roofs don’t give much usable living space under them, which can be a significant disadvantage considering the labor and material cost involved. However, if you don’t need a roomy attic, you can opt for a hip roof if space isn’t an issue. For example, most contemporary designs use hips because of their slender appearance.

Ventilation

Having vents in your attic is crucial to keeping your home and roof moisture-free and healthy. Gable roofs can be fitted with gable vents to reduce humidity and keep the house in good living condition. However, only gable vents are not enough in many cases and may need soffit and ridge vents for adequate ventilation. In comparison, hip roofs cannot get these vents.

Combination options

Both roof styles have several types, and you can use these different types together in one home according to needs. Even hip roofs and gable roof types can be constructed in combination, resulting in some beautiful looking roof designs. 

Modification flexibility

A Gable roof can be constructed on an existing top. So, if you want some additional space, getting a gable roof will give you spacious living space in the attic. Also, this roof style is very energy efficient. It is an attractive feature of gable roofs, and it is one of the most common renovation projects because of the benefits they bring.

Similarly, one can build a hip roof over an existing flat roof to help rain, snow, or debris slide off the roof easily and to increase the home’s curb appeal. 

Cost efficiency

If you are looking for overall cost efficiency, a gable roof can be ideal for your home. This is because a gable roof requires less construction material, and the waste is also less. In comparison, the hip roof utilizes more material because there is more wastage due to more cuts, resulting in an increased labor cost. However, cost efficiency is not the sole deciding factor when constructing a roof, so other factors need to be considered before coming to the cost details.

Some frequently asked questions

Which is better, hip or gable roof?

A hip roof is a bit sturdier because it has four slopes, while a gable roof has two slopes. Also, the hip roof is more straightforward to construct than a gable roof but is more time-consuming. Although both designs provide aesthetic value for your home, gable roofs are simple constructions with less curb appeal. After considering all the pros and cons of both styles, you can choose the one that ticks more boxes for you according to your requirements.

Can you mix gable and hip roof?

Yes, you can mix these two roof styles to develop more aesthetically pleasing and sturdy roof construction. For example, a home can have a hip roof over the main house with a gable roof over the front porch or any other style variation.

A combination of hip and gable roof
hip and gable roof combines

Moreover, combination roofs add a hint of interest to the property, and such roofs are also more durable. The most important thing to keep in mind is an increased cost and attention to the waterproofing as more ridges and valleys will require extra care.

How long does a gable roof last?

Several factors determine the lifespan of roofs. But mostly, an excellently constructed gable roof lasts for about 40 to 50 years. It may even last longer if the supporting framework remains in good condition. The same goes for a hip roof that has a similar lifespan.

Can you turn a gable roof into a hip roof?

An existing gable roof can be converted into a hip roof without breaking down the entire gable roof. It also costs less than building a whole new hip roof because you can reuse the roofing material.

What is the strongest roof style?

A metal hip roof is the most durable roof style in standard roofing. It can effortlessly brace strong winds because of its inward slope design, so many homeowners go for it if they live in windy areas with harsh winters. This style also offers more livable attic space and ventilation options.

Conclusion

Both hip and gable roof styles have their respective advantages and disadvantages. But you cannot prefer one over the other because of just these differences. A roof style choice depends upon the shape of the building, panel profiles, and many other technicalities. Generally, hip roofs are preferable as they are less likely to leak because they have fewer seams. In addition, they may offer better long-term value because they will last longer than gables and are typically easier to repair if damaged.

However, the best way to determine which one you like better is to visit various homes in your area with both kinds of roofs on them. After a while, you’ll begin to notice things you like about each style and which one is the dominant style in that area. Then, you can consult an expert to take their advice on which type will be better for your needs.

Charles John

A novice DIYer who learns about home ventilation. I am a mechanical engineer and have a basic knowledge of HVAC systems but I learn continuously to make myself the best blogger in that space.

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