List of roof shapes

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Roof shapes differ greatly from region to region. The main factors which influence the shape of roofs are the climate and the materials available for roof structure and the outer covering. Roof terminology is also not rigidly defined. Usages vary slightly from region to region, or from one builder or architect to another.

Roof shapes vary from almost flat to steeply pitched. They can be arched or domed; a single flat sheet or a complex arrangement of slopes, gables and hips; or truncated (terraced, cut)[1] to minimize the overall height.

Roof shapes[edit]

Towers, especially church towers, frequently feature special roof shapes
  • Flat: These are found in traditional buildings in regions with a low precipitation. Modern materials which are highly impermeable to water make possible the very large low-pitch roofs found on large commercial buildings. Although referred to as flat they are generally gently pitched.
    • Roof terrace (including roof garden): the same with protections from falling such as a balustrade, parapet walls or surrounding raised plant beds used as a living or public dining space.
  • Mono-pitched roofs (Pitched here means a roof plane rather than a slope and implies it is not a flat roof)
    • Mono-pitched roof (shed, skillion, lean-to roof[2]): A roof with one slope, historically attached to a taller wall.
    • Saw-tooth: A roof comprising a mono-pitched roof or for larger buildings, series of[clarification needed], mono-pitched roofs with vertical surfaces glazed and pitched upward in general terms away from the equator, though other directions suit if direct sunlight is desired and where rooftop access may otherwise be impracticable. The roof tops are opaque, shielding traditionally workers[clarification needed] and machinery from direct sunlight. This sort of roof commonly admits natural light into a factory, and is also known as "Northlight" in the northern hemisphere implying a single such plane.[3]
  • Pent roof (pentice, skirt roof if carried around the house[4]): A roof appended, thus the name, to the wall of a building and by implication having further roofs or terraces above. (See gallery below)
  • Multi-pitched roofs:
    • Gable (ridged, dual-pitched, peaked, saddle, pack-saddle, saddleback,[5] span roof[6]): A simple roof design shaped like an inverted V.
      • Cross gabled: The result of joining two or more gabled roof sections together, forming a T or L shape for the simplest forms, or any number of more complex shapes.
      • See also roof pitch, crow-stepped, corbie stepped, stepped gable: A gable roof with its end parapet walls below extended slightly upwards and shaped to resemble steps.
    • A-frame
    • Half-hipped (clipped gable): A combination of a gable and a hip roof (pitched roof without changes to the walls) with the hipped part at the top and the gable section lower down.
    • Dutch gable, gablet: A hybrid of hipped and gable with the gable (wall) at the top and hipped lower down; i.e. the opposite arrangement to the half-hipped roof. Overhanging eaves forming shelter around the building are a consequence where the gable wall is in line with the other walls of the buildings; i.e., unless the upper gable is recessed.
    • Saltbox, catslide: A gable roof with one side longer than the other, and thus closer to the ground unless the pitch on one side is altered.
    • Outshot or catslide: A pitched extension of a main roof similar to a lean-to but an extension of the upper roof.
    • Bonnet roof: A reversed gambrel or Mansard roof with the lower portion at a lower pitch than the upper portion.
    • Monitor roof: A roof with a monitor; 'a raised structure running part or all of the way along the ridge of a double-pitched roof, with its own roof running parallel with the main roof.'
    • Butterfly roof (V-roof,[7] London roof[8]): A V-shaped roof resembling an open book. A kink separates the roof into two parts running towards each other at an obtuse angle.
    • Karahafu: A type of gable found in some traditional Japanese buildings.
    • Hidden roof: A type of Japanese roof construction.
    • Hip, hipped: A hipped roof is sloped in two pairs of directions (e.g. N-S and E-W) compared to the one pair of direction (e.g. N-S or E-W) for a gable roof.
    • Half-hipped: A hybrid of a gable and a hipped roof. (See above.)
    • Dutch gable, gablet: The reverse hybrid of a hipped and a gable roof. (See above.)
    • Cross hipped: The result of joining two or more hip roof sections together, forming a T or L shape for the simplest forms, or any number of more complex shapes.
    • Satari: A Swedish variant on the monitor roof; a double hip roof with a short vertical wall usually with small windows, popular from the 17th century on formal buildings.[citation needed] (Säteritak in Swedish.)
    • Mansard (French roof): A roof with the pitch divided into a shallow slope above a steeper slope. The steep slope may be curved. An element of the Second Empire architectural style (Mansard style) in the U.S.
    • Gambrel, curb, kerb: A roof similar to a mansard but sloped in one direction rather than both.
    • Bell-cast (sprocketed, flared): A roof with the shallow slope below the steeper slope at the eaves. Compare with bell roof.
    • East Asian hip-and-gable roof
    • Mokoshi: A Japanese decorative pent roof
    • Pyramidal
    • Pyramid roof (pavilion roof): A hip roof on a square building.
    • Pyatthat: A multi-tiered and spired roof commonly found in Burmese royal and Buddhist architecture.
    • Tented: A type of polygonal hipped roof with steeply pitched slopes rising to a peak
    • Helm roof, Rhenish helm: A pyramidal roof with gable ends; often found on church towers.
    • Twisted, an extreme display of craftsmanship found on some church towers in France, see gallery below.
    • Arched roof
    • Barrel, barrel-arched (cradle, wagon): A round roof like a barrel (tunnel) vault.
    • Catenary: An arched roof in the form of a catenary curve.
    • Bow roof, rainbow,[9] Gothic, Gothic arch, and ship's bottom roof. Historically also called a compass roof.[10]
  • Circular
  • Hyperbolic

Illustrations of common and simple roof shapes[edit]

Flat roof Shed roof Gable roof Catslide
Flat roof Mono-pitched roof Gable roof Gable roof with catslide
M type roof Gambrel roof Clerestory roof Saw-tooth roof
Ridged, multi-gable or
m-type roof
Gambrel roof Clerestory roof Saw-tooth roof
Hip roof Half-hip roof Tented roof Gablet roof
Hip roof Half-hip roof Tented or pavilion roof Gablet roof or Dutch gable
example with recessed (upper)
gable and eaves
Rhombic roof Rainbow roof Barrel roof Bow roof
Rhombic roof Rainbow roof Barrel roof Bow roof
Conical roof Spire Onion dome Welsh spire
Conical roof Spire Onion dome Welsh spire
Gable roof with eaves T-Gable house roof Hip and pent hip roof Butterfly roof
Gable roof with eaves Cross-gabled building with
squatter projecting wing
and T-shaped plan
Hip and pent hip roof
(Brit: hipped)
Butterfly roof
or trough roof (rare)
Prow or "flying" Gable roof Monitor roof
Prow or "flying" Gable roof Monitor roof

Selection criteria[edit]

  • Location
  • Economics
  • Building plan
  • Neighbouring buildings
  • Building geometry
  • Architectural reasons

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Long, George. "Roof". The Penny cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. London: Charles Knight, 18331843. 143. Print.
  2. ^ Cowan, Henry J., and Peter R. Smith. "Shed roof" Dictionary of architectural and building technology. London: Elsevier Applied Science Publishers; 1986. 272. Print.
  3. ^ "The Machine Shop and the Works. Modern Principles of Design", The Times: Engineering Supplement, London, November 13, 1912, p.25.
  4. ^ Harris, Cyril M.. "Pent roof". Harris dictionary of architecture & construction. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. Print.
  5. ^ Fleming, Honour, & Pevsner, A Dictionary of Architecture
  6. ^ Passmore, Augustine C.. "Span Roof". Handbook of technical terms used in architecture and building and their allied trades and subjects, . London: Scott, Greenwood, and Co.;, 1904. 325. Print.
  7. ^ Passmore, Augustine C.. "V Roof" Handbook of technical terms used in architecture and building and their allied trades and subjects, . London: Scott, Greenwood, and Co.;, 1904. 362. Print.
  8. ^ Coutts, John. Loft Conversions. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley, 2012. Print.
  9. ^ Davies, Nikolas, and Erkki Jokiniemi. Dictionary of architecture and building construction. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Architectural Press, 2008.304
  10. ^ "Rainbow roof | Article about rainbow roof by The Free Dictionary". Retrieved 2018-10-26.