Home Articles

What Is A Gable Roof? Different Designs, Pros & Cons, and More

Written by Carol J Alexander

Published on November 29, 2023


What Is A Gable Roof? Different Designs, Pros & Cons, and More

A gable roof is formed by two flat planes that meet at the top ridge. The ends form two triangles enclosed with the walls of the house called gables.

Get local cost

To provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information, we consult a number of sources when producing each article, including licensed contractors and industry experts.

Read about our editorial process here. Want to use our cost data? Click here.

A gable roof has two flat, sloping planes that meet in a single ridge at the top. The gable is the triangular shape at the top of the wall, filling the roof's peak. A gable roof is the most common type of roof in residential construction, and its different types can give a home a simple minimalist look to something more grandiose. "The gable roof is tried and true," says Chad Conley, CEO at Complete Roofing in Georgia. "You can't really beat it."

Hire a local roofer today

Types of gable roof designs

The basic gable roof is simple and easy to build. It typically covers a rectangular ranch-style home, but many variations are still considered gables. Here is a brief description of each one.

Open gable

The open gable is the classic gable design. It covers a ranch-style home with two planes. The home's wall extends to the peak to enclose the open triangle or gable end.

Box gable

A box gable overhangs the ends of the home and is enclosed separately from the house's wall. Think of a triangular-shaped box sitting on a rectangular box that is slightly smaller.

Cross gable

A cross gable roof combines two sections at a right angle to form a cross or T. A home with "wings" will likely have a cross gable roof. The gable ends can be open or boxed.

Gambrel roof

Also called a barn roof, the gambrel is a gable roof style. Instead of two flat planes, each is angled in the middle to create two different slopes. The gambrel roof provides more interior room for a second story and is more complex than a simple triangle.

Dutch gable

A Dutch gable resembles an open gable with a skirt around it. Dutch gables can cover the entire home, an addition, or a dormer.


A saltbox gable roof has one plane at a different slope than the other, creating an asymmetrical roofline. This configuration creates a scalene triangle where the two sides are different lengths.

Roof pitch and gable roofs

Besides variations in shape, you'll also find variations in pitch. To be considered a gable roof, the roof pitch is typically 3:12 or greater but can be as much as an 18:12 A-frame. The steeper the roof, the more usable space you have in the attic. But, the cost to maintain the roof will be higher.

Architecture and gable roofs

If style is important to you, know that gable roofs are found on many different types of architecture. A Cape Cod home is a ranch-style with a steep-pitched gable roof. The front of the house is the long side with two dormers in the attic. The attic space in some Capes is finished to create what's called a half-story. An offshoot of the Cape is the two-story colonial-style home, also with a gable roof. Finally, a Tudor-style home has a cross gable that faces the street side of the house and another gable over the front door.

Gable roof vs. hip roof: what's the difference?

Differences between a gable and a hip roof

Gable roof

Hip roof

Has two flat, sloping planes that meet in a single ridge

Has four flat, sloping planes that meet at a point


More complex

Affordable to roof

Requires more material to roof

Many people confuse gable and hip roofs. The main difference is in the number of slopes or planes. A gable roof has two flat, sloping planes that meet in a single ridge at the top. A hip roof has four flat, sloping planes that meet at a point, like a pyramid.

Of course, there are variations to these descriptions. But the basic premise is the same. "When adding the hips," says Conley, "you add a lot of aesthetics. It makes the home look more expensive."

However, a hip roof has a few drawbacks. The trusses for framing a hip roof are more complicated to build. A hip roof also requires more material to cover. "You have more surface area and an increased level of complexity," says Conley. "And both types cover the same amount of square footage." So, if you plan to build a new house, you may want to consult an architect about the best roof design for the house and your budget.

Do I have a gable roof?

Still trying to figure it out? Take a look at this illustration comparing different roof types to see which one looks most like yours.

Advantages and disadvantages of a gable roof

Gable roofs may be the most common roof shape because their advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Unlike more complicated roof styles such as mansard roofs, gable roofs improve the home's functionality by providing attic space for storage or future living space. They complement many home styles, and they require fewer gutters. If conditions allow, Conley notes that gable vents are sufficient enough so you have fewer roof penetrations, reducing the chances of leaks.

However, some sources claim gable roofs have a lower wind resistance than other roof styles. Conley says that depends. He explains that the house's orientation and how much shingle hangs over the roof's edge are factors. 

If the sloping parts of the roof face the prevailing winds, the roof will perform better than if the gable end faces the wind, according to Conley. However, he explains that if the roofers left a minimal amount of shingle overhanging the rake (edge) of the gable, high winds are less likely to lift the shingle. "A well-built gable roof will work up to the manufacturer's specifications," he says. 

The best roof materials for a gable roof

Except for roofing materials specifically made for flat roofs, like built-up tar or modified bitumen, all other roofing materials are suitable for a gable roof. 

Asphalt shingles

The cost to install an average-size gable roof with asphalt shingles is $8,476 to $15,421, depending on the shingle style and cost.

Asphalt shingles are the most common and most affordable roofing option. They're also resistant to fire and easy to install. However, asphalt shingles are not an eco-friendly roofing option and are the least energy-efficient material. For very steep slopes, a shingle roof may need hand sealing to ensure gravity plus heat don't cause the shingles to tear.

Metal roofing

The cost to install an average-size metal gable roof is $11,094 to $54,182, depending on the type of metal.

Metal roofing comes in standing seam, screw-down panels, and tiles. All styles of metal roofing are suitable for a gable roof. Conley recommends a standing seam metal roof with a Kynar® finish for gable roofs. "Unless you live where you have a lot of hail," he says, "because it will cause dents." He also advises homeowners to ensure they do not have a cosmetic damage exclusion in their insurance policy.

Roof tiles

The cost to install an average-size tile gable roof is $20,405 to $37,125, depending on the type of tiles.

Roof tiles come in natural materials like slate and clay, metal, and composite. Most roof tiles last 50 years or more. They're eco-friendly, energy efficient, and come in various colors and styles. However, materials like clay and slate are extremely heavy and require a reinforced roof structure.

Find a reliable roofer in your area

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a pitched roof and a gable roof?

A gable roof is formed by two flat planes that meet at the top ridge. The ends form two triangles enclosed with the walls of the house. What's called a pitched roof is any roof style that has at least a 3:12 roof pitch. Both a gable and a hip roof are pitched roofs.

What is more expensive, gable or hip roof?

Because a hip roof has more roof decking that needs to be covered with roofing material, it costs more than a gable roof.

How long does a gable roof last?

The lifespan of a gable roof depends on the type of material used to cover it. A slate roof can last 100 years or more. An asphalt roof lasts 25 years, on average.

Can you install solar panels on a gable roof?

Absolutely. Most solar installers know how to install panels on asphalt shingles. They use a streamlined process that minimizes the chances of costly mistakes.

Do I need snow guards on a gable roof?

Shingle roofs don't typically require snow guards. However, if your gable roof has a standing seam metal roof, your contractor will probably recommend installing snow guards to prevent an avalanche during a season of heavy snow.

Written by

Carol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert

Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.