If someone asked you to name the most popular roof style out there, would you know the answer? Or would you be totally tongue-tied? As a roofing contractor (, I can attest to the fact that you wouldn’t be alone.

If you’re like most people, you wouldn’t have had a clue that there are indeed different roof styles out there. But there are – dozens of them, by some accounts. We all know that peaked roofs are better in places that get a lot of snow or rain – so the weight of the precipitation doesn’t bring it crashing down. But is there a reason behind the exact assortment of peaks, valleys and ridges that make up your typical roof?

Keep reading to find out and learn a bit more about Classic Roof Styles.

Flat Roofs

Flat roofs are rare on traditional homes but are more common on industrial buildings. These roofs usually aren’t flat; rather, they have a slight slope that allows water to drain to one end and, presumably, into the gutter. Without such a pitch, the water would pool and cause all sorts of leaks and mold and bugs and other problems. They do usually have rubber membrane or tar/asphalt coating that provides better water protection. (Flat roofs are now becoming more popular for modern-style homes.)


This is the most basic – and most common – type of pitched roof. The Gable Roof, also called an Open Gabel, is essentially just two sloped sides of the roof meeting in the middle, where they form a triangle.

They’re easy to design and build, and they essentially involve just two flat surfaces with zero hips or valleys. And – they work with almost any roofing material, whether that’s asphalt shingles, clay tiles or metal roofing.

Furthermore, the steep sides are perfect for letting water and snow melt and slide off with zero pooling. And there’s just something about that classic, simple look that just screams “home.”


A dormer isn’t its own roof style, but rather a style of gabled roof; they feature minied roofed structures jutting out from the roof, most often with a window extending vertically beyond the roof’s plane. You might just see them called rooftop windows, but they allow you to build some extra space into a loft or attic.

Hip (and Valley)

A hipped roof is one where all sides slope downwards to the outside walls, usually with a very gentle slope. Meaning, it has no gables or other vertical sides.  A square hip roof is shaped like a pyramid, while other four-sided hipped roofs have two triangle sides and two with trapezoids.

Hip and Valley roof types, on the other hand, are used when the roof’s various shapes and architectural styles need roofing of different angles to accommodate them.

Gambrel Roofs

Gambrel roof styles use symmetrical, sloped two-sided panels, where the top panel is less sloped, and the bottom half has a much steeper slope – an almost vertical one. This design allows for the home to have all the benefits of a sloped roof – drainage, etc – while allowing for much more headspace and taller ceilings on the second floor inside. The other benefit? They look sweet.

The only drawback to a gambrel roof is that the very tall height of the roof – compared to the width of the house – means it can shake violently in the wind.