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Hip Vs. Gable Roof: What’s The Difference?

Home With Both Hip And Gable Roofs

Which Roof Style Is Better For Your Houston Home: Hip Or Gable?

We Give You The Straight Skinny On Both And Why You Should Choose One Or The Other

Houston seems to have two types of weather: “Isn’t it nice?” and “Run for your life!” When it comes to the first incarnation, the shape of your roof matters little other than its ability to shed water without letting any into your home. The second scenario, however, can get you thinking hard about what kind of roof you want over your home.

Two of the most basic roof styles used in the Houston area are the hip roof and the gable roof. Above, you see a home using both styles, with the hip roof covering the rearmost portions of the home and a gable roof to the front.

So what do we mean when we say hip or gable roofs? Stick around and find out.

Gable Roofs

A gable roof has two sides that meet at a peaked ridge which runs the length of the roof. The wall sections that meet the peak at each end of the roof are called gables, thus the name of the roof.

Gable roofs are fairly simple and inexpensive to construct and are best for areas with high levels of rain or snow due to the high slope’s ability to shed water and snow easily.

Hip Roofs

A hip roof has at least four sloped sides that meet at a center ridge. The sides usually sit at a milder angle than a gable roof, though that isn’t a requirement. The octagonal roofs you see on turret rooms and classic church steeples are also hip roofs.

Hip roofs do well in areas prone to high winds since the low slope gives the wind less area to push on, and the lack of gables means there is no flat surface taking the brunt of the wind’s force.

Comparing Hip and Gable Roofs

Each roofing style has been around for hundreds of years, and each has its pros and cons. Much of the decision of whether to build a hip or gable roof has to do with aesthetics rather than the prevailing weather though each has advantages over the other in certain conditions.

Strength

Both roof systems have been known to stand for over 100 years. But the hip roof is much more structurally sound than a gable roof. The hip roof’s design with four angled sides makes the roof system self-supporting. A gable roof, on the other hand, is vulnerable to external forces at each gabled end.

Complexity

The gable roof is simple, fast, and relatively inexpensive to build, and requires little expertise to put together. A hip roof, however, is a much more complex system and takes a high level of knowledge to assemble correctly.

Withstanding Nature

The two roof systems do well in all settings, but extreme weather brings out their differing strengths. A hip roof can handle high winds and endure the weight of heavy snowfall far better than a gable roof. The robust construction and overall shape of the hip roof distributes forces evenly throughout its structure, which allow it to accept greater forces without failing.

The gable roof is vulnerable to high winds but is more efficient at shedding water and snow. The level of winds necessary to tear apart a gable roof is still quite high, but the potential for failure is raised significantly in the face of hurricane-force winds. For this reason, hip roofs are often found to be more common in coastal regions, while the gable roof is the most common roofing system throughout the nation.

Extra Space

Roofs aren’t just covers for our homes; the space beneath can be used as well. It is this interior space where the differences between hip roofs and gable roofs become obvious.

Hip roofs, with their multiple angles, take a toll on the available interior space. You can still place dormers in a hip roof, but the space will remain cramped no matter what you do.

On the other hand, gable roofs leave a ton of space beneath their support structures for extra rooms, dormer windows, and whatever else you’d like to do with the space. The loft space under a gable roof can be rather appealing, especially for children growing into a more independent existence.

The extra space beneath a gable roof also allows for better ventilation throughout your home. The close space under a hip roof can become cloying and difficult to move out of your home.

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal, that well-loved and all-important component for the real estate industry, is greatly impacted by your home’s roof. In that department, there is no beating the symmetry and majesty of a hip roof. Hip roofs look exactly like what they are – a strong and expensive upgrade to the standard gable roof.

The venerable gable roof looks… common – because it is. They are durable, inexpensive, and easy to build, so they sit atop the vast majority of American homes. That popularity, though, causes most gable roofs to fail to impress. A new roof, however, will never fail to improve your chances of getting your list price, no matter what style it displays.

So Which Do You Choose?

Hip and gable roofs have stuck around, with multiple variations and combinations, since before the first ships crossed the Atlantic ocean for a reason. They work. And they usually work, with maintenance and occasional shingle replacements, for longer than the walls that support them.

If you live in an area prone to extreme storms such as hurricanes or massive snowfalls that don’t melt until spring, a hip roof is your best choice. It’s also your best choice for an impressive look. But if tornados are your big weather worry, it won’t matter which roof you have if one targets your home. The roof that can handle those winds has yet to be invented.

If you deal with frequent heavy rain, a gable roof is for you. Their lower cost and simple design, combined with ample space underneath, has made gable roofs the choice for the vast majority of homes in this nation. They can also look beautiful, if not quite as grand as a hip roof.

In the end, it comes down to your priorities, your budget, and the best look for your home.

If you are thinking about a new roof for your home, contact us at Houston Roofing for a free inspection and estimate. We’ll go over the pros and cons of each roof system and help you decide which one is the right one for your home and family.