A gambrel roof is a type of roof most commonly associated with classic red barns. See, you can already picture it in your head, can’t you?

But gambrel roofs can also be utilized on some homes today— mostly Dutch colonial style houses. This roof is defined by four slopes on each side, all angling up to meet at a center peak. A gambrel-style roof has many pros and cons, which we’ll go through today so you can be educated on whether or not a gambrel roof is right for you.

Gambrel Roofs Defined

It’s unclear when or why gambrel roofs came to be, but we can confidently say they’ve been used on barns and old homesteads since at least the late 1600s— wow!

A gambrel roof is defined by its four sloped planes on each side of the roof. It’s like a standard gable roof in that it has a peak and two sides, but each side angles in the center, making 4 rectangular planes. The benefit of this is that it allows a lot of extra space in the upper floor of the structure (like a hay loft) while still allowing snow, water, and ice to run off easily.

Gambrel roofs can technically be considered multi-pitched roofs because of their multiple peaks or ridges. These types of roofs can be hard to decipher from others when doing research since they also go by other names like gable roofs, dual-pitched roofs, or dutch colonial roofs.

But no matter what, they are a very viable option if you want your home to have a dutch colonial look to it, or are roofing a barn, shed, or similar structure. Before you do so, consider the following pros and cons of a gambrel roof.

gambrel roof part of roof on house

What Are the Pros of a Gambrel Roof?

In addition to their unique curb appeal and shape, gambrel roofs have many benefits, including:

Beautiful Aesthetics

One of the most significant advantages of a gambrel roof is that it looks good. This type of roof can add country charm, sophistication, and visual interest to any home. Its unique structure definitely stands out in a cookie-cutter neighborhood, and if you’re looking to boost curb appeal, it’s just the way to do it.

Easy-ish Installation

Another perk of gambrel roofs is that they aren’t too difficult to install. While the process definitely requires precision and an expert roofer, it doesn’t require any special equipment or techniques. This makes it a more affordable option than some other types of roofs, like a mansard roof.

Endless Options for Materials and Colors

You can put just about any type of roofing material on a gambrel roof, and it will both look good and function well. Whether you want tiles, shingles, metal, or something else— chances are it’ll work with your gambrel roof. However, asphalt shingles and metal are probably the most common.

Creates a Ton of Useable Space

As we mentioned, one of the defining characteristics of a gambrel roof is that it has four sloped planes on each side, two of which are steeper than the others. This allows for a lot more usable space on the top floor.

  1. If you put a gambrel roof on a barn, you could have plenty of space for hay storage in the loft.
  2. If you put a gambrel roof on your home, you could maximize space for an attic bedroom, office, or storage space.

No matter what you use it for, the extra space is definitely a pro.

Can Be Combined With Other Roof Styles

One of the best advantages of a gambrel roof is that it can be combined with other roofing styles. This gives you even more design options and allows you to really make your home or barn your own. For example, you could put a cupola on top of your gambrel roof for some extra flair or combine it with a gable or dormer roof to create an eye-catching design.

Simple Maintenance

Depending on the type of roofing material you use, your gambrel roof should be relatively easy to maintain. You need to keep gutters free and clear of debris, watch for any storm damage, and make repairs when necessary. It’s as easy as that.

gambrel roof diagram

What Are the Cons of a Gambrel Roof?

Unfortunately, no good roof is immune to some cons along with its pros. Some of the biggest downfalls of a gambrel roof include the following.

Not Very Wind Resistant

One of the gambrel roof’s biggest disadvantages is that it isn’t very wind resistant. Because of its unique shape, a bout of high winds could potentially lift your roof right off. This can obviously cause some serious damage to your home or barn and puts you at a higher risk for leaks and other problems.

Less Than Ideal in Heavy Snow Conditions

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snowfall, a gambrel roof might not be the best option for you. The sloped planes on top have a more shallow angle and can hold a good amount of snow, which could potentially lead to collapse.

Don’t Work With Any Style Home

While a gambrel roof can be combined with other types of roofs, it definitely doesn’t work with every style of home. If you have a ranch or cape cod style home, for example, a gambrel roof just wouldn’t look right.

Make sure you consider these cons before taking the plunge toward installing or buying a home with a gambrel roof. For a more hands-off, wind-resistant kind of roof, it might not be the one for you.

Getting Your Gambrel Roof Installed

Now that you know all about the pros and cons of a gambrel roof, it’s time to make your decision. If you’re set on getting this type of roof for your home or barn, the next step is to find a qualified roofing contractor in your area. Or, make the easy choice and go with the team at Mars Restoration.

If you have a gambrel roof that you want to make last, consider getting a FREE roof inspection from us. With regular maintenance and repairs, you can keep your gambrel roof in top shape for years to come. To learn more, get in touch with one of our roofing experts— they’re here to help!