The differences between a gable roof and a hip roof is interesting in an architectural sense but they also translate to real-world advantages and disadvantages in terms of building costs, insulation, energy, attic remodeling, stability in wind, and even the cost of homeowner's insurance.
Learn the differences between gable and hip roofs before you build or undertake a major home remodel.
Hip Roof vs. Gable Roof
A hip roof is a roof style consisting of four sloped sides meeting at a common peak. In comparison, a gable roof features only two sloped sides with vertical sides between them on each end. These major architectural differences lead to many advantages and disadvantages that will likely influence your choice of one roof style over another.
Major Differences Between Hip Roofs and Gable Roofs
|Hip Roof||Gable Roof|
|Wind Performance||Better in high-wind areas||Prone to wind damage|
|Snow Performance||Worse snow performance||Better snow performance|
|Appearance||Complex. sleek design with consistent eaves||Tends to be simpler in design|
|Insurance Benefits||May have insurance benefits||Doesn't have insurance benefits|
|Attic Space||Less attic space||More attic space|
|Build||More complex to build||Simpler to build|
|Maintenance||May require more maintenance||May require less maintenance|
|Environmental Impact||Less room for solar panels||More room for solar panels|
|Resale Value||No determinable value||No determinable value|
|Water Resistance||Good water resistance assuming seams are properly installed||Good water resistance|
|Description||No verticals: all sloped roof||Two verticals rising up from walls|
|Cost||35 to 40 percent more expensive than a gable roof||Less than hip roofs: fewer shingles, simple truss construction|
What Is a Hip Roof?
On a hip roof, sloping sides form the entire roof, meaning there are no vertical wall extensions. To form the sloping sides, the hip roof is framed in a self-bracing manner, with rafters that slope inward at each end, offering additional strength and durability. This, paired with the aerodynamics of the sleek, hipped design, translates to superior wind resistance. This is one of the key differences between hip roofs vs gable roofs.
Types of Hip Roofs
The larger category of hip roofs can encompass many different types of hipped roof designs. Here are a few common types:
- Pyramid or Pavilion Hip Roof: A pyramid or pavilion hip roof features four sloped roofs meeting at a single point.
- Simple Hip Roof: A simple hip roof features four sloped roofs meeting at a horizontal ridgeline.
- Crossed Hip Roof: A crossed hip roof features two perpendicular hip roofs intersecting to form a valley.
- Half-Hipped Roof: A half-hipped roof features shortened sloped hips, revealing a partial vertical wall space.
- Dutch Gable Roof: A dutch gable features a partial hip that leads to a small gable before reaching the roof's ridge. As the name suggests, this is considered a hybrid of hip and gable styles.
- Mansard Roof: A mansard roof is a hip roof in which the sloped sides are broken into two pitches
Hip Roof Advantages
Hip roofs have a few key advantages over gable roofs:
- Appearance: While appearance technically comes down to preference, hip roofs are generally considered to be sleeker and more visually intriguing, while also being associated with nicer homes due to their frequent use on higher-end builds.
- Wind Resistance: Because of their sleek design, hip roofs are incredibly aerodynamic, which gives them superior wind resistance, making them a popular choice for high-wind areas.
- Insurance Benefits: The high wind resistance associated with hip roofs leads many insurers to offer discounts on insurance for hip-roof homes, especially in areas that see a large number of storms annually.
Hip Roof Disadvantages
For some, the cons of a hip roof may outweigh the pros. Here are some notable disadvantages:
- Cost: The main disadvantage of a hip roof design is its cost, which can be 35 to 40 percent higher than a gable roof. To build and shingle a hip roof, costs can range from $33,600 to $67,200, whereas gable roofs are between $24,000 and $48,000.
- Solar: If you plan to use solar power in your home, it's important to check the surface area of your hip roof. While the tilt works well for the placement of panels, some do not have the space.
- Snow Performance: When it comes to areas that see a lot of snow, hip roofs don't perform as well as gable roofs. This is because the more complex design tends to hold snow rather than shed it.
- Replacement Cost: Once it comes time to replace your roof, a hip roof will be more costly due to its increased number of roofing materials and seams. A 1,250-square-foot house with a gable roof has a roof area of about 1,460 square feet. The same house with a hip roof increases the roof area to 1,540 square feet. This means that two additional packs of shingles need to be purchased for every 1,250 square feet of living space
- Maintenance: On average, hip roofs require more maintenance than gable roofs. The added number of seams also makes hip roofs more prone to leak development, mostly due to poor installation.
What Is a Gable Roof?
A gable roof has two parallel sloping sides that meet at the center to form a peak. Two open triangular-shaped spaces remain on each end. These spaces are often filled in with vertical extensions of the walls below them. Because the trusses run parallel all the way to the end of the roof, the vertical gables are susceptible to heavy wind loads.
For this reason, gable roofs aren't as strong or durable as hip roofs and often require end bracing for added wind resistance. This additional bracing will help distribute the wind load that's placed against the vertical wall to the strong structural components of the home's framing.
Types of Gable Roofs
Gable roofs come in many different styles. Here are a few common types of gable roofs:
- Standard Gable: A standard gable features a vertical continuation of the wall between the two parallel roof slopes.
- Box Gable: A box gable features a triangular extension on the gable end, distinguishing the portion between the roof.
- Front Gable: A front gable is positioned at the front of the house, often sitting directly above the front door.
- Cross-Gable: A cross-gable roof features two perpendicular gable roofs intersecting, typically with ridge lines on the same plane.
- Dutch Gable Roof: A dutch gable roof is a roof with a hipped portion leading to a partial gable just before the ridge. This is considered a hybrid of gable roofs and hip roofs.
- A-Frame Roof: An A-frame roof is a front gable in which the roof extends down to form the side walls of the house.
- Gambrel Roof: A gambrel roof is a gable roof in which the two sloped sides are broken into two pitches.
Gable Roof Advantages
There are a few advantages of gable roofs that may influence your decision when buying or building a house:
- Attic Space: The additional attic space created by the gable roof results in much more storage.
- Snow Performance: The simplicity of a gable roof helps it to shed snow quicker than more complicated roof designs. Additionally, many gable roofs feature higher pitches, which encourages snow to slide off the house rather than accumulate on the roof.
- Solar: If you're planning to install solar panels, gable roofs have much more usable square footage.
- Build Cost: If cost is a factor in planning your build or remodel, gable roofs can save you 35 to 40 percent on average.
- Replacement Cost: The cost to replace a gable roof is cheaper than its hip counterpart, as it uses fewer roofing materials and features fewer seams.
Gable Roof Disadvantages
The biggest disadvantage of a gable roof is its lower wind resistance, which can lead to higher average costs for insurance in some areas. While gable roofs are considered by many to be less attractive than hip roofs, they're still extremely common, making them a popular choice for many buyers.
Which Is Better: Gable Roof or Hip Roof?
Both hip roofs and gable roofs have their own set of advantages and disadvantages that boil the choice between them down to personal preference, individual needs, and budget.
However, there is one determining factor that may tip your decision in favor of a hip roof: Location. If you're located in a Category III or IV wind zone or your area receives more than 10 tornadoes per year, your location is considered to be a high-risk wind zone, so it may be worth installing a hip roof rather than a gable roof.
Can you have a gable roof in a high-wind area?
Gable roofs in areas with high-velocity wind can be retrofitted so that gable overhangs are strengthened and the last 4 feet of trusses up to the gable receive extra bracing.
Can gables be decorated to be more visually appealing?
One common complaint about gable roofs is that the gable side of the house is a large, dull, and flat expanse of siding. Some builders and homeowners install accent siding made of cedar shakes or stone in the triangular gable section to break up the monotony.
Can a gable roof be converted to a hip roof?
Converting a gable roof to a hip roof is an expensive, major project. Though rare, it can be done. If the aim is to create a more wind-resistant roof, it's usually more cost-effective to retrofit and strengthen the gable roof.
Designing Wind-Resistant Roofs. Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Hip Roof vs Gable Roof. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Gable End Bracing. South Carolina Department of Insurance.
Understanding the Hazards. Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Wind Retrofit Guide for Residential Buildings. Federal Emergency Management Agency.