What is a Gabled Roof?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A gabled roof is a type of sloped roof in which the two halves of the roof meet to form a peak which tops triangular sections of wall on either end of the home; technically, it is these triangular sections that are known as gables, with the roof being designed around the gables. This is in contrast with a hipped roof, which resembles a simple pyramid plopped onto the top of a house. Gabled roofs are extremely common, and they come in an assortment of styles. The gabled roof design is very easy to execute in a simple form, and it creates more room in the upper story of a house than a hipped roof.

A gabled roof is a sloped roof that is split into two halves which come to a point at the top.
A gabled roof is a sloped roof that is split into two halves which come to a point at the top.

When a house has a side gabled roof, it means that the gables are on either side of the house, so when the house is viewed front-on, people see the slope of the roof rising up to the peak of the roofline. If one were to walk around a side gabled home, it would be possible to see the gable. A front-gabled roof is designed with the gable in the front of the house.

In contrast with these simple designs, it is also possible to see a cross gabled roof, in which the floor plan of the home is irregular, necessitating some creative tricks with the roof design. For example, an L-shaped home might have gables at the ends of the L. Dormers, projections which rise from the roof to create more light and space, are also considered cross-gables, because their roofline is typically perpendicular to that of the rest of the home.

Depending on where one lives, a gable roof can be an advantage, or a liability. In regions which are prone to high winds, the gables can act like sails to trap heavy winds, and the roof may potentially peel open like a tin can because the eaves over the gable are subjected to too much force. On the other hand, the pitch of a gable roof is often very steep, which means that snow is less likely to settle on the roof, reducing the risk of a cave-in.

The other major advantage to a gable roof is that such roofs can be used to subvert building restrictions. In some communities, for example, full three story homes are banned to retain a more rustic feel. By using a gable roof, builders can create a partial third story which may be quite roomy, especially if it designed with dormers, thereby generating more usable space in a home.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I have seen a lot of gable roof sheds in my neighborhood. Many people use these as workshops or for extra storage, and one lady even uses hers as a beauty shop.

They are quaint little structures, but there is only one gable, because they are so small. I like the simplicity of this.

Also, it seems that every old barn I have ever seen has a gabled roof. The gables on barns tend to rise up to a much higher point and have more deeply sloped roofs than those on houses. Maybe this is because there is usually a loft upstairs, and there is hay there, so making the rain run off the roof is important in keeping the hay dry.


My sister’s house has a reverse gable roof. This adds a lot of dimension to her home, but it can also cause problems with maintenance.

The reverse gable is a section of roof that has a gable just like the main part, but the gable is at a perpendicular angle to the main roof. So, it ends up looking like a separate structure attached to the house.

Having all these angles provides more space for mildew, and it can also make the shingles weaker there. She has to have the area washed more often than she would like, and she has even had to replace several shingles after thunderstorms with hail have come through the area and pounded the roof.


@orangey03 - I know what you mean. Gabled roof construction must take a lot of time, and I would imagine it gets pretty expensive.

My neighbors have a house with many gables on it. It is two stories tall, and each of the gables features a window. Many of them jut right out of the roof, and they look like the type of windows in horror movies that you see ghosts staring out of all the time.

The gables do make the house look fancy. I think that they spice up a home’s exterior. Without them, you would just have a rectangular home, and that would look rather boring.


I have painted pictures of gable roof homes before, and this construction can add hours to the time it takes to complete a painting on canvas. I live in a wealthy neighborhood where people take great pride in their homes, so I get to do a lot of commissioned work.

Many of the homes have four or five different gabled areas. They will have a couple of side porches, each with a gable on top. Then, there is usually a gable above the front porch right over the front door, too.

All those angles that this creates makes me have to take great care in painting all the lines. It can really be a pain for me, so I can only imagine how big of a pain it was for the people who built the house!

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