Butterfly roofs were popularized in the 1950s— becoming a mid-century modern staple. A butterfly roof does look like a butterfly, as if it were sitting on a branch with its wings spread out, slightly angled upwards. It’s almost like an inverted gable roof with the surface sloping upward from the center vs. downward.
You won’t find a butterfly roof on just any cookie-cutter home design. This architectural beauty is found in more uniquely designed homes and is very popular in Southern California due to its practicality as well as its style. Some benefits of a butterfly roof, beyond its stunning appeal, include:
- High wind resistance
- Improved ventilation
- Opportunity for more windows in your home
This guide will go even more in-depth into why a butterfly roof might (or might not) be a good option for your home.
WHAT IS A BUTTERFLY ROOF? 🦋
While Architect William Krisel was responsible for making the butterfly roof design widely known, we have French architect Le Corbusier to thank for its inception when he initially sketched it for a Chilean heiress in 1930. That specific home and roof design would never come to fruition, but a few years later, in Japan, Le Corbusier’s design would inspire Czech architect Antonin Raymond to build his own home with the new butterfly design. That home actually went on to be featured in Architectural Record in 1934.
The most distinctive feature of a butterfly roof is its v-shape. While a standard pitched roof will start with a peak and the sides angle down towards the home, the butterfly design starts in the middle valley, and the sides go upward resembling butterfly wings.
This design allows for very high ceilings and the opportunity for clerestory windows which allows so much more natural light into the space. And is highly predominant in mid-century architecture and homes with a more modern aesthetic. Think Frank Lloyd Wright designs, which have a unique one-of-a-kind appeal that a butterfly roof can offer.
PROS OF BUTTERFLY ROOFS 👍
I think we get what makes a butterfly roof so unique, but what about how it functions? Having a roof that stands out and looks cool is one thing, but how well does it protect your home? Let’s find out. Here are some of the advantages of installing a butterfly roof.
COLLECTS RAINWATER 🌧️
This roof is basically designed to collect rainwater easily. Homeowners with this type of roof can easily place rain barrels at the ends of their roofs with a drainage system that efficiently collects more rainwater than other roof styles. That stored water can then be used to water the lawn, garden, and landscaping.
EASY TO MAINTAIN 🧹
Butterfly roofs require minimal maintenance. There are no gutters required because the water runs off of the roof quickly and efficiently. And there are fewer places for leaves or other debris to build up, so you won’t have to worry about constantly cleaning your gutters or hiring someone to do it for you.
MINIMALISTIC AESTHETIC ⬜
Butterfly roofs also offer a very minimalistic and clean design. This type of roof can really help to simplify the look of your home and make it appear much more modern. If you’re going for a mid-century modern aesthetic, then a butterfly roof is definitely the way to go.
OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE WINDOWS 🪟
Because the side walls of a home with a butterfly roof can and must be taller than the interior walls, you have the option to add more floor-to-ceiling or clerestory windows. This can allow stunning natural light to fill the space and can help keep your home nice and warm in the cooler months!
STRONG WIND RESISTANCE 🌬️
Butterfly roofs are also incredibly strong and resistant to high winds. The shape of the roof allows wind to flow right over it without putting any pressure on the structure of the home. So, if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes or other severe weather conditions, a butterfly roof might be a good option for you.
GREAT FOR SOLAR PANELS ☀️
If you’re looking to install solar panels on your roof, a butterfly roof is a great option. The steep angles of the roof make it easier to position the panels so that they can get the most sunlight possible. And, because there are no gutters, you won’t have to worry about the panels being obstructed in any way.
CONS OF BUTTERFLY ROOFS 👎
Unfortunately, sometimes with the good, there also comes the bad. As many benefits as a butterfly roof have, there are still some disadvantages to installing this type of roof.
EXPENSIVE UPFRONT COSTS 💸
The roof is more difficult to install than other types of roofs, which in turn raises the cost of equipment, materials, and manual labor. Additionally, it may require some rebuilding of the home’s structure to accommodate the unique shape and size of the roof.
MUST COMMIT TO THE DESIGN
When you install a butterfly roof, you are pretty much stuck with that design. If you ever want to change the look of your home or sell it, potential buyers may be turned off by the unusual and unique shape of the roof.
THEY CAN BE HEAVY
Butterfly roofs can also be quite heavy, which means that your home will need to be able to support the weight. This is something that you will need to take into consideration when deciding whether or not a butterfly roof is right for you.
DON’T WORK ON EVERY HOME
This unique look won’t work on just any home. That is why it’s often built as a new build at the time of construction and never changes. But if you are interested in this roof style, you can always work with a general contractor to see what’s possible.
HOW TO GET THE ROOF OF YOUR DREAMS
Whether or not a butterfly roof is in your future, you need to have a reputable roofing team on your side to help install, maintain, and repair your roof when you need it. MARS Restoration can be that support system for you.
We have the knowledge and expertise to handle just about any type or size of roofing job, and want to ensure you get the roof you always dreamed of. If you want a FREE roof evaluation, simply reach out to us— we’re here to help!