A gambrel roof is a roofing style featuring two symmetrical slopes on each side. Sometimes referred to as a barn-style roof, this historic roof shape is known for having shallow top slopes adjacent to secondary steep slopes. Gambrel roofs are a very traditional roofing style, and are common among Dutch or Dutch Colonial-style homes, farmhouses, barns, and in coastal regions.
The faceted slopes of a gambrel roof provide excellent water run-off, making this roofing style an efficient roofing solution. The simplicity of architectural design allow for a more cost-effective roofing system; less materials are needed for a gambrel roof than for other styles. Gambrel roofs also create more interior space. The contoured shape of a gambrel roof creates expanded headroom on the upper floor, allowing for a better allocation of usable living space.
Coastal homes with gambrel roofs are well-suited for a variety of roofing materials. Metal panels are an excellent choice for gambrel-style roofs for homeowners seeking durability, longevity, and water run-off. Metal further enhances the water-resistant qualities of a gambrel roof, allowing for the best possible waterproofing in coastal areas. Metal can also be molded in shingles or tiles to mimic the aesthetic of other specialty materials. Shingles and slate are common materials for gambrel roofs.
A mansard roof features four sides (all with the two-slope design), while a gambrel roof has only two sides. The mansard-style roof is prominent in European countries, and dates back to the 16th century. Mansard roofs are especially prevalent in France, where they were widely popularized by the French architect Francois Mansart.
The lifecycle of a roofing system depends on the quality of materials, structural soundness, and regional climate, not on its architectural style. Slate is one of the most durable, long-lasting roofing materials; when high-quality slate is installed correctly, these roofs can last over 100 years. Aesthetically, a slate gambrel roof retains the classic, historic look and feel of its origins, making for a timeless, European-inspired home style.
Copper metal panels also retain the historic aesthetic of gambrel or mansard roofs. Like slate, copper is an extremely durable material, and develops an attractive patina as it ages. Copper can be applied as an accent (for flashing, chimney caps, or vents), or as the primary roofing material. Its versatility and lengthy lifespan make copper an excellent choice for gambrel-shaped roofs.