15 Popular Roof Styles and Materials to Consider for Your Home

home front exterior white pillars

Although rarely the first thing you notice, a roof says much about a home's style. It plays a major role in the structure of a house, as well as its exterior aesthetic. Take this tour of housetops, including explanations of specific roof types and materials, to help you choose the best roof design for your home.

01 of 15

Gable Roof Design

brick colonial home exterior with white picket fence
David A. Land

The most straightforward version of a gable roof involves a pitched triangular roof with two sloping sides. On this Georgian home, the sides slope along the front and back of the home, and the triangular gable can be seen from the side. The elegant home exterior is distinguished by timeless traditional features, including brick siding and dark shutters.

02 of 15

Gable Roof Styles

Home Exterior of tan house
Peter Krumhardt

Gently sloping gable roofs are commonly used on ranch-style houses to make the rooftop less noticeable from the street. When choosing a roofing material, it's smart to choose a color and texture that blends with your siding. The rough texture and muted color of the cedar-shingle siding on this home are complemented by the roof's gray-brown shingles.

03 of 15

Hip Roof Design

america's best front yard winner 2019
Brie Williams

Hip roofs are one of the most common roof styles you see on homes today. This roof shape features four sloping sides that come together to form a peak or ridge along the top. It's often combined with other features, such as the dormer windows on this home, that add extra storage or living space under the roof.

04 of 15

Dormer Roof Designs

home front exterior white pillars

A dormer is a window that extends outward from the sloped side of a roof. This outcropping is capped with its own roof, which could be pitched, arched, or flat. Incorporating dormer windows into your roof design allows natural light and airflow into the upper areas of a home while adding interest and dimension to the roofline.

05 of 15

Gambrel Roof Style

gray home exterior arched window and columns
Michael Partenio

Gambrel roofs slope down symmetrically on two sides, first at a gentle angle and then at a much steeper slope. This roof style commonly appears on Dutch Colonial homes, farmhouses, and exterior buildings such as barns and sheds. Depending on the other architectural features, a gambrel roof can create a rustic feel or a more elegant look.

06 of 15

Mansard Roof Style

Federal Meets French Style home exterior
Gordon Beall

Popular for centuries in Europe, a mansard roof features four double-sloped sides that meet to form a flat area or low-pitched ridge in the middle. Dormers are often built into the lower slope of the roof to bring in light. Although this elegant home was originally built in Federal style, many of its post-Civil War improvements were kept, including the mansard roof. Purple-gray scalloped shingles complement the home's decorative ornamentation.

07 of 15

Flat Roof Styles

contemporary home exterior
John Bessler

Most often seen on contemporary-style homes, flat roofs can't typically be seen from the street but require heavy-duty roof materials. While appearance isn't a concern, ensuring that water quickly rolls off the slight slope is critical. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you also pick a roofing material that can bear a significant snow load.

08 of 15

Dutch Colonial Roof Design

dutch home exterior
Erik Johnson

Gambrel roofs with steeply sloped roof sides are characteristic of Dutch Colonial houses. This type of roof often covers most of two exterior sides of a home's second floor, which makes roofing material and color choices very noticeable from the curb. Wood shingles and shakes are beautiful natural roofing material options but check for fire-retardant treatments for these natural materials. Alternatively, consider a synthetic substitute such as laminated composition shingles that have a shake-like profile.

09 of 15

Skillion Roof Style

slim and modern two-story home design
Emily Minton-Redfield

A skillion roof, also called a lean-to, is sloped in only one direction, creating a roof shape with dramatic angles. This style can be applied to specific areas of a roof or across an entire home to create a bold, contemporary home exterior. Skillion roofs also sometimes combine various angles across different sections of the roof for a more dynamic look. This type of roof works well in areas that receive heavy rain or snowfall because its steep pitch allows for quick runoff.

10 of 15

Clay Tile Roof

Outdoor space with tile roof home
Ed Gohlich

The bold color and texture of tile roofs command attention. Often used on Spanish or Mediterranean-style homes, clay tiles are popular in the Southwest because they deflect hot sun away from the house, cooling the interior. This type of roof material, while expensive, is long-lasting. This home's stucco exterior complements the tile roof's warm color scheme and textures.

11 of 15

Metal Roof Styles

red roof home exterior

Metal roofing can be made from aluminum, steel, or copper. While metal roofs can be long-lasting, lightweight, and fire-resistant, they also conduct heat and can be noisy. A metal roof dramatically enhances this three-story clapboard cottage. The bold red hue creates an appealing color palette when combined with the all-white exterior and surrounding greenery.

12 of 15

Slate Roof Materials

home exterior with slate roof
Mary Fran Brennan

Slate makes an elegant and attractive roof material for homes of many styles. However, it can be costly to install and maintain. If you love the look of slate roofs but not the price tag, composite material, which is made of slate and resins, features all the good looks of natural slate with easier installation and care.

13 of 15

Combining Different Types of Roofs

white home exterior
Emily Followill

Many homes combine several different roof styles in one structure for added interest. This Tudor-inspired house, for example, combines dormer and gable roof designs. Two cross cables define the outer areas of the roof, while the middle features three dormer windows to break up the blank space and welcome more light inside the home. Copper window awnings and a wooden entry door enhance the home's exterior charm.

14 of 15

Mixing Roof Materials

Inspiring Exterior on light green house
Richard Leo Johnson 

A house doesn't need to be topped with a single material, especially when the roof's character changes. White PVC roofing on this home's new upper-level addition saves energy and can only be seen from a bird's-eye view. Metal roofing on the lower section helps preserve the home's original character.

15 of 15

Roof Design Updates

gray house home exterior
Jon Jensen

In general, it's best to tear off an old roof rather than install a new one over an existing roof. A tear-off reveals any defects in the roof deck so they can be mended before a new roof is installed. This home's aging roof was updated to a slate-style fiberglass-composite shingle that complements the home's new gray-blue exterior color.

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