What is a Hip vs Gable Roof? – Difference,Pros & Cons and Costs

When it comes to roof shape, there are a ton of choices. Even two of the most common - the hip roof or the gable - have multiple styles, leaving you lost in a sea of options. So get comfortable in your seat as we help navigate the waters of hip and gable roofs. What are they, and is one type better than the other?

Hey Hip - What's The Hype?

hip roof

Hip roofs are easy to spot due to having four equal-length sides that form together at the top of the roof, referred to as the ridge. The place where two planes meet is the hip, which can create a triangle or a pyramid shape. These roofs do not have any flat ends, gables, or vertical ends. 

Hip Roof - What's Your Type

If you decide you're in the market for a hip roof, there's more to consider. As it happens, there are multiple types of hip roofs. 

Pyramid hip roof
  • Pyramid: A pyramid hip (also called a square hip) is the simplest design, with all of the sides meeting at a peak like a pyramid. Pyramids that sit on garden structures are pavilion roofs.
Mansard Roof
  • Mansard: This style consists of two slopes on each side with a steeper pitch on the bottom than on the top.
Hip and valley roof
  • Hip and Valley: A hip and valley hip roof consist of hip sides while also having valleys - where two planes meet and slope down. 
Combination Roof
  • Combination: This roof flares at the bottom all the way down with a lower pitch on the lower level

Pros of Hip Roof

So, what are the things to love about a hip roof? 

  • Extreme Wind Resistance

Hip roofs have higher wind ratings, making them a superb choice for climates that get significant winds from hurricanes or tornadoes. 

One factor that affects a hip roof's stability is there is less need for diagonal bracing. And since there isn't a flat face, there's less area for the wind to catch. 

Many insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners in hurricane-prone areas for using a hip roof. You could see savings up to 32%. Adding a Class 4 impact-rated roofing material can increase your savings even more. 

  • Simple Construction

Another great selling feature of hip roofs is the basic layout, which allows for easier and faster construction. The lack of extra bracing and walls of the same height enables builders to erect a hip roof faster than a gable roof.

Cons of Hip Roof

  • Poor Snow Performance

Hip roofs do not perform well with snow due to the lower pitch. If you live in a climate with frequent snowstorms, a hip roof may fail to function correctly. Heavy snow buildup can result in a roof that leaks, caves in, or cracks. 

Now, that's not to say that you can't use a hip roof in climates with severe winter weather. However, if you're hype to have a hip roof, make sure your contractor builds to your location's building code, which sets standards for roof pitch based on climate.

  • Loss of Attic Space

Another downside of hip roofs is that you will lose out on attic space due to the construction. The diagonal bracing of a hip design takes up more room than the bracing for a gable roof, causing the attic to be smaller. Some homeowners add dormers, which allow in natural light and give you extra space.

  • More Expensive

Despite the easier assembly, hip roofs cost more to construct compared to gable roofs. Two factors affect the price. The first is that hip roofs are challenging to design, which automatically increases the cost. And the second factor is the number of roofing materials needed to build a hip roof correctly. 

Is a Gable a Gamble? 

gable roofs

Gable roofs have two sloping sides that form the ridge and one or more flat ends - gables. This triangular section has vinyl siding, stone, or other exterior materials rather than roofing products. Gabled roofs can have numerous gables. 

Hey Gable, What's Your Angle?

Gable roofs are similar to hip roofs in that there are multiple subtypes. 

Open: Classic look with a gable covered in siding 

open gable roof vs box gable roof

Box: Enclosed, extended gable that extends past the walls

cross gable roof

Cross: Two gable sections combined in a right angle

gambrel-gable-roof

Gambrel: A mansard roof with two different sloped sides with a complex gable shape commonly seen on barns

salt box roof

Saltbox: Colonial-style asymmetrical roof with an open gable with one end of the roof extending further than the other

Pros of Gable Roof

  • Affordable Price

Hip roofs are cheaper to install. So if you're on a tight budget, a gable roof can help you get a great style for an affordable price. 

You'll get the lowest price by picking an open gable roof, as there are only two roof planes to cover compared to the four sides of a hip roof. That means less roof to cover equals fewer materials to buy, thus more savings.

  • Better Ventilation

Gable roofs provide better ventilation. Having the proper airflow in your attic space is crucial to keep your roof and home in healthy condition. Roofs that don't have the correct ventilation can end up with a host of unwanted problems. All gable roofs are compatible with gable vents, which reduce the humidity in your attic, making for a healthier home and occupants.

Pro Tip: While gable vents are great for providing extra air for garages, your roofer should also install additional vents, besides the gable vent, to allow the air to flow through your house correctly. If your contractor only mentions one vent, call them out. You also want soffit and ridge vents installed.

  • Plenty of Attic Space

You get more attic space. So if you have dreams of converting your attic into a spare room for gaming, media, or an office or kid's playroom, you'll want to give serious consideration to a gable roof over a hip. Gable roofs are also better if you desire vaulted ceilings.

  • Decor Room

A gable roof gives you more room to install decorative materials to give your house a unique look. When you have a gable, you have options like pediments, ornaments, or gable brackets that allow your roof to have some accessories. There is a wide range of gable decor available, letting you have plenty of choices. 

Cons of Gable Roof

  • Poor Wind Performance

A gable roof has poorer performance against high winds compared to a hip. Because the gable is flat, wind can hit it directly, causing the air to push up towards the roof. In addition, when there's an overhang, strong gusts of air could potentially cause the truss of your roof to pull up. Keeping your gable overhang less than 30" could help reduce this risk.

  • Building a Gable - What a Pain

Gable roofs are also more complex to build. One factor that increases the difficulty is that the walls will not be the same height as a hip roof. Each wall has to meet the angle of the roof. Gable roofs also require additional bracing and brackets to increase wind resistance. Both of these support structures require extra time and skill to install. 

Hip vs. Gable: Which is Better For You?

The first thing to note about hip vs. gable roofs is that a roof doesn't have to have one or the other. Some roofs can have both gables and hips. Types of combination hip and gable roofs include:

  • Intersecting: or an overlaid hip due to the 90-degree angle of a hip roof laid over a gable roof.
  • Jerkinhead: an open gable roof with a small covering that angles outward to create two small hips at the top of the gable
  • Dutch: An open gable roof on the top that flares into hips along the rest of the roof

This chart demonstrates the performance of hip and gable roofs side by side to display their differences and strong features.

Criteria

Hip

Gable

Wind Performance

Better

Worse

Snow Performance

Worse

Better

Price

High

Low

Build Complexity

Easy

Hard

Attic Space

Less

More

Decor Options

No

Yes

Cost

$20,000-$40,000

$15,000-$20,000

Hip or Gable - How to Decide?

Design

When trying to debate between hip or gable, the first thing to consider is what looks look you like best. These two roofs have drastically different styles, making it easier for you to decide whether you like the look of a roof with four sloping sides or if you want two sides covered by the roof with two sides open. 

Weather

Your location's climate may also affect your decision. For example, hip roofs have better wind resistance, making them better for areas with high winds. In comparison, gable roofs perform better against the snow. 

Budget

Your money situation will also affect your choice. Remember that hip roofs are more expensive to build than gables, as a gable roof requires less material. 

Roof slope

The slope of your roof can also narrow down your choice of style. Gable roofs work better on low slope roofs (less than 3:12) since there are fewer valleys. Hip roofs typically have one or more valleys that require a 3:12 or higher slope.

In Closing

By now, you should be able to decide if you're a hippie or a gabler. Once you've picked your roof shape, it's time to decide on another crucial factor - roof covering. Just as there are many types of roof shapes, there's also a huge selection of roof dressings - 

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