Gambrel Roof Design


The Gambrel Roof Design is one of the most popular styles of roof designs and can meet various architectural needs.  The Gambrel Roof Design optimizes the interior’s usable space by using a double slope on each side.  The upper slopes remain relatively flat allowing room for storage or living space. Dormers can also be added for additional visual interest and light.

History of the Gambrel Roof Design

A symmetrical gambrel roof design was originally a Dutch type of building style used in the early colonial days from the 1600s to the 1800s.  They were often used to build barns and were influenced by the Indonesian home roofs that featured a hip followed by a gable end on the ridge.  Early settlers adapted this design to meet their needs.  This style is most commonly seen along the east coast from Maine to Georgia.

Benefits of the Gambrel Roof Design

The gambrel roof design has several benefits in addition to the additional space it provides.  They are able to withstand adverse weather conditions like high winds or heavy snow falls thanks to modern building materials.  Gambrel roofs are also aesthetically pleasing and create a classic look that is attractive on a traditional architectural style.   This type of roof is very simple to construct and frame making it a cost-effective solution for homeowners as well.

Important Considerations when Using a Gambrel Roof Design

When building a new gambrel roof, it is important to ascertain how much head space will be needed.  A low roof is fine if the area will be used for storage.  However, a higher roof is necessary if the area is going to be used for extra living space.  Be sure to factor in room for the insulation and the ventilation system as well.  A qualified contractor can help determine how much space is needed and what building codes will need to be met before beginning construction.

Ventilation with the Gambrel Roof Design

One of the problems with a gambrel roof design is that they may have ventilation problems potentially making the space uncomfortably hot.  This is because the roof begins where the wall for the lower part of the home ends.  Ridge vents may be able to be placed into the edge of the roof helping to supply a continuous airflow, ventilating the area.  Eyebrow vents are another solution for passive ventilation.  However, these are complicated and should be installed by a professional roofer.  An attic fan can also create the necessary air circulation.


A gambrel roof design has many advantages and there are several examples of this type of roof in historic architecture.  Both the famous Thomas Riggs house in Gloucester, Massachusetts and the John McKinstry house in Ellington, Connecticut are excellent examples of a gambrel roof.  The Gambrel Roof design can be used for a home, a barn, a shed or a garage and the extra space created can be utilized for an extra bedroom, a game area, an art studio and more.