Gambrel Roof Study

With its nostalgic look and extra floor space the gambrel roof has gained renewed interest among those looking for a unique roof line coupled with a large and functional attic space. Adding dormers further accents the look and is commonly referred to as the "Dutch Colonial". The traditional flared eave lends a rustic look which works well with other components such as the full width porch below:

There is much discussion about the "correct" shape of the gambrel roof. If one examines a number of gambrel roofs it soon becomes clear there is no hard and fast rule governing the proportions of this style of roof. However, it is also obvious that varying the relative pitches of the upper and lower slopes of the roof does dramatically alter the look and feel of the design. The matrix below illustrates this principle:

After spending some time discussing the merits of one configuration over another in various online forums I've come to the conclusion that the general preference seems to be toward a less boxy look and a steeper upper roof pitch. My personal favorite is the the 6/12-12/6 and 7/12-12/6 profile shown in the drawings below:

In the example profiles I have attempted to vary the roof pitches while maintaining equal lengths for the upper and lower roof sections. Regardless of the upper and lower roof pitches a decent looking gambrel roof seems to be achievable by maintaining this equal relationship of the two legs of the roof. With our Gambrel Roof Calculator one can easily test different configurations by varying the upper and lower pitches of the roof as shown below:

By further varying the relative lengths of the upper and lower slopes even further customization is achievable and the possibilities become endless. I would be interested in what you would consider is an optimal classic gambrel style roof.

If you have any questions about gambrel roofs please contact us.

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