Gable vs Hip Roof: What Is the Difference?

Some roof designs lend themselves to one structural layout or another, and some work well with numerous house plans. Two of the most common roof designs are gable and hip roofs, and although they have similarities, it’s their differences that make all the difference. So, if you’re wondering what the differences are and which is better, gable vs hip roof, we’re here to help!

The main differences are a gable roof has two slopes, and a hip roof has four. The hip roof’s shorter central ridge splits at both ends to run to the four corners of the building. The ridge on a gable roof runs from one side or end to the other, requiring the end walls to be closed in with a vertical triangle.

In this article, we’ll explain what hip and gable roofs are and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. We’ll compare their performance and identify their differences, and identify which is better. We’ll also look at hip and gable combinations, plus explore Dutch hip vs Dutch gable roofs. Our aim is to provide you with the information to make the best roofing decision for your build.

What Is a Gable Roof?

Gable Style Roof

Gable, peaked or pitched roofs are commonly used for square, rectangular, ‘L’ and ‘T’ shaped floor plans, as well as other configurations. There are numerous variations including ranch, Cape Cod, A-frame, open gable, gable and valley, cross gable, box gable, flying gable, saltbox, gambrel, jerkinhead, Dutch, dormer, and even hip, plus others. It is also frequently used for garages and other outbuildings.

A gable roof is a simple age-old design with two opposing decks or planes sloping upward from the top plate of the exterior walls and meeting at a center ridge. The ridge is commonly centered between the front and back of the structure for a box gable roof, or between its two ends for a front gable roof. The two triangle or gable ends formed by the two roof decks are closed with vertical framing, brick, or stone work that is usually completed prior to the roof being built.

The two opposing decks typically have the same slope. Meaning they rise equally over the same span or run distance. The roof slope is usually a 3” rise or greater for every 12” of horizontal travel or span, or 3/12.

The slope helps to shed moisture or debris, and in areas that experience heavy snowfall, the pitch may be 12/12 or even greater. The greater the slope, the higher the ridge is above the top floor ceiling, and the more potential for attic storage or extra living space too.

The roof decks are often formed using individual timbers or rafters. The rafters are notched with a birdsmouth at the top plate of the exterior wall and meet with a plumb cut at a ridge board or beam at the other end.

The rafter framework usually requires collar ties, purlins, and struts to prevent the opposing decks from collapsing, which all adds to the build time. The larger the roof, the more internal support it requires. Modern construction has shifted in many areas to the use of timesaving prefabricated trusses to form gable roofs.

Gable roofs often have overhang eaves of rafter tails extending outward from the top plate with the same roof slope to protect the structure and foundation from precipitation and runoff. At the triangular ends, the roof usually extends beyond the gable wall for the same reason and is known as the rake. The rake is framed to tie to the last rafter or truss, fastens and rests on the top plate of the gable wall, and cantilevers outward to support the finishing facia.

To allow light into the attic space created by the ‘A’-shaped roof, one or more windows are often framed into the gable end walls. Additional light openings can be added by cutting or framing openings in the roof decks and framing gable or shed dormers around the openings. Unfortunately, adding windows to the roof deck often allows moisture to find a way in as well.

Gable Roof Advantages and Disadvantages

Gable Roof

A gable roof is one of the most common roof configurations and can last for centuries or longer with proper care and maintenance. Due to its longevity, it has numerous advantages, but unfortunately, it does have some disadvantages too.


  • Ideal for subdivisions with limited space between houses.
  • Light, easy, and simple to build using a variety of materials.
  • Sheds snow and rain well, reducing leak potential; especially if steeply pitched.
  • Minimal risk of leakage with one ridge, no valleys, and overlapping roof deck coverage.
  • Foundation protection is provided by overhanging eaves and rakes.
  • Less expensive than many other roof styles due to its simple design.
  • Easy to ventilate at the ridge or top of the gable ends and eaves.
  • Extra storage and living space in the open area between the roof decks.
  • Multiple ways to finish with shingles, shakes, tiles, steel, thatch, or other options.
  • An easy design to modify, mix, or connect with other roof styles.
  • Repairs are easier due to the simple framing design.
  • Wind and hurricane resistant if oriented to prevailing winds.


  • Crosswinds can cause damage or rip the roof off hitting the high gable end wall.
  • Simple design is less aesthetically pleasing.
  • Not ideal for low slope requirements.
  • Larger roofs require more support, so are more difficult to build.
  • Diminished headroom if over living space.
  • Not as sturdy or strong as other roof types.

What Is a Hip Roof?

Simple Hip Style Shed Roof

A hip or hipped roof has four downward-sloping roof decks and no high-rising gable ends. Square or rectangular-shaped structures often have four triangular-shaped sections that meet in a central peak, which is also known as a pyramid roof.

Alternatively, rectangular-shaped structures may have two trapezoidal-shaped roof decks with two triangular-shaped ones making up the roof deck. This hip roof style has a central ridge where the trapezoidal decks meet and four extra ridges running from the ridge’s ends to each corner of the structure where the triangular decks join the trapezoidal ones.

Hip roofs are traditional roofs and both styles are common. They have been in existence for millennia with their influence being seen in mansard, bonnet, jerkinhead, Dutch gable, Dutch hip, hip and valley, cross-hipped, half-hip, gabled hip, and many combination roof styles.

The style can be used on square or rectangular-shaped floor plans, or L or T-shaped ones. Many old European castles and buildings wear a hipped roof, as do American French colonial buildings, 4-square, pavilion, tented, bungalows, ramblers, train stations, cabins, cottages, garages, and sheds.

The four-slope roof deck is very durable and sheds rain and snow easily, plus it is more aerodynamic, so it is less susceptible to wind force damage. The roof shape offers full protection to the foundation and lends itself to protected wraparound porches. Aesthetically, the roof seems to offer a lower profile even though the central point or ridge may reach as high, or higher, as other roof styles.

Hip roofs are commonly constructed with four ridges extending upward from each corner of the structure and meeting in the middle or at a central ridge. The framework used to close in the roof decks involves more angle cuts and lumber, so it is more costly and takes more time than a traditional gable roof. However, it offers greater open attic space as it requires less internal bracing as the opposing slopes provide it, making it a more stable roof structure.

Hipped roofs commonly offer more storage or living space than other roof styles, although head space may limit livable space. The roof also lends itself to the addition of dormer or other window styles that can improve lighting and ventilation. Unfortunately, the ridges and any window openings also increase the risks of moisture penetration if the roof isn’t well maintained.

Hip Roof Pros and Cons

Hip Roof Pros and Cons

A hip roof is a common traditional roof that can last for hundreds of years or more with regular care and maintenance. With its long history of use, there are many pros supporting its use, but as with everything, there are also several cons too.


  • Great aesthetic and curbside appeal.
  • Much more durable than two-slope roofs.
  • More stable since the roof design is self-bracing.
  • Ideal for areas receiving high volumes of rain or snow.
  • Sheds snow and rain away from structure.
  • Wrap around eave and gutter minimizes erosion around foundation.
  • Great for keeping a house cool.
  • Offers extra storage and living space potential as it requires less internal bracing.
  • More aerodynamic so very stable in high wind areas.
  • Easy to combine with other roof styles.
  • Ideal for covering wraparound porches.
  • Can be finished in shingles, slate, shakes, tiles, thatch, steel, or numerous other options.


  • Roof should be pitched 18° to 27° to the prevailing wind.
  • Venting a hip roof can be difficult.
  • More expensive to build than a traditional gable roof.
  • More complex construction requires more expertise to build.
  • All the ridges increase maintenance needs.
  • Sloping roof decks can limit livable space.
  • Roof deck needs to be opened for windows, which increases leak potential.

Gable Roof vs Hip Roof: Key Points

Difference Between Gable and Hip Roof

A gable roof has one ridge and two opposing roof decks that slope downward while a hip roof has four roof decks sloping downward from a common peak or ridge. Both roof styles have been in use for millennia and offer good protection against the elements. The Table below compares the two types based on common factors.

Hip RoofGable Roof
DurabilityGreater durability.Lower durability.
ComplexityLess complex than a gable roof made of rafters, but more complex than one made of trusses.More complex than a hip roof if made of rafters, but less complex if made of trusses.
SlopeFour roof decks with the same or different slopes. Slopes are often greater than gable roofs on similar structures.Two roof decks commonly with the same slopes
Attic SpaceOften more usable attic space due to less interior bracing, but headroom is more limited by roof slopes.Less attic space due to internal bracing, but greater potential due to less restricted headroom.
VentilationSmall or no central ridge requires other ventilation methods than soffit to ridge.Longer ridge is better for soffit-to-ridge ventilation.
Snow PerformanceExcellent snow performance with appropriate pitch.Appropriate slope ensures excellent snow performance.
Water ResistanceThe higher the roof slope, the better the water resistance.Water resistance improves as the pitch increases.
Strong Wind PerformanceExcellent strong wind performance.More easily damaged by strong winds.
MaintenanceGreater roof surface for a comparable structure size, coupled with 4 or 5 ridges, means more to maintenance.Smaller roof size for similar sized buildings and only one ridge, so less to maintain.
CostHip roof adds 15 to 25% more cost for similar-sized buildings, but only 5% on overall structural costs as no gable ends are required.Less expensive roof structure and easier to build, but cost of roof doesn’t include gable ends.

What Is the Difference Between Gable and Hip Roof?

Gable vs Hip Roof

Both Gable and Hip roofs have been in use for millennia, so there are many great reasons to use them. Both roofs can be simple designs or complex mixtures of other styles. However, it’s their differences that may make one better for your building project than the other. In this section, we explain the key differences between the two roof styles.

Roof Design and Appeal

A Hip roof has four triangular decks that slope upward to a central peak or two triangular and two trapezoidal decks that meet at a short central ridge. The four slopes may all be the same, or the trapezoidal ones may differ from the triangular slopes depending on the length of the central ridge. The four roof sections typically extend past the exterior walls the same distance and finish with a level facia plate on all sides.

A gable roof has two rectangular roof decks that slope upward to a central ridge that is parallel to the front and back walls, or the two side walls. The two triangles created between the ends of the roof decks and top of the perpendicular wall are referred to as the gable ends. They are usually filled in to match or complement the construction of the rest of the structure.

Both roof styles offer a sound structural design and appeal and can be modified or combined with other roof styles depending on the size and shape of the building. A hip roof often extends to cover wraparound porches or decks, while a gable roof may extend to cover a porch on two sides of the building.

Both have good curb appeal too; however, the gable roof design tends to work better in the close confines of high-density subdivisions. The hip roof, though, offers smaller-looking roof decks, so the roof doesn’t seem to dominate the landscape or building, giving it a greater aesthetic appeal.


The four sloping roof decks of a hip roof help to brace it against wind and snow loads and also make it more aerodynamic than a gable roof. A gable roof made with rafters requires more internal bracing than a hip roof for that reason too. The two slopes of the gable roof require less material to build, but leave two vertical gable ends that must withstand wind forces.

The aerodynamic design of the hip roof decreases uplift forces and creates a seemingly smaller roof profile. The four slopes also move precipitation away on all sides of the structure, helping to protect it from moisture damage. Coupled with the innate bracing by the four roof slopes, it is better able to withstand the forces of nature and is stronger and more durable than a gable roof.


The complexity of any roof construction depends on its design and the skill of those doing the work. A simple gable roof built with rafters has a greater complexity than a hip roof in that it requires more internal bracing, plus the construction of the two gable ends. Arguably, though, a hip roof has more ridges and angles, which makes it more complex in the opinion of some builders.

Due to the potential wind loads a gable roof also requires additional brackets to prevent the wind from lifting it off the house. It also requires additional bracing to prevent it from collapsing under snow loads too.

This adds to the build time and complexity of the roof. However, modern trusses used to make gable roofs reduce build time and complexity, thus making hip roofs more complex by comparison.


A gable roof has two roof decks that typically join at the center of the structure to form a ridge. The slope can range from 2/12 to 12/12 or greater, with the higher pitch shedding rain and snow more efficiently.

The greater slope offers more potential for attic storage and living space but also presents more exposure to wind forces against gable ends and roof decks. It’s interesting to note, though, that while both roof decks commonly have the same slope, they don’t always, as is the case with a saltbox roof.

Hip roofs have four sloping roof decks that meet at a point or shorter central ridge. The slope of each deck may be the same or the two ends may differ in pitch from each other as well as the two sides, or they may all have different slopes.

It’s common for the two triangular roofs to have a steeper or shallower slope than the trapezoidal decks depending on the distance the central ridge is from the end walls.

Attic Space

The attic space of a gable roof is often limited by the internal bracing required to support and strengthen the roof. The greater the slope and span distance, though, the more usable attic space created.

The gable ends offer potential for natural lighting and ventilation of the attic space. Plus, the central ridge running end to end can also offer greater headspace across the full length of the attic if the floor-to-ridge height is adequate. Today, usable attic space can be built in as part of the roof design even if using trusses instead of rafters.

The four slopes of a hip roof typically provide greater clearance for attic space since less internal bracing is required. A hip roof usually has a greater slope than a gable roof of a similar perimeter which allows for more distance between the ridge or peak and floor. However, the sloping roof decks on all four sides also limit the usable floor space. Plus, natural lighting and ventilation for extra living or storage space in the attic can be problematic.


Roof ventilation helps to remove hot air from the attic space and reduce moisture damage caused by condensation. It not only helps to prevent mold and mildew growth and rot but improves air quality in the attic area.

Top ridge and soffit ventilation are the best and use gravity to draw cool or cold air upward from the soffits and out through the ridge. This method works in a similar way for both hip and gable roofs. Pyramidal hip roofs may also have a copula at the peak in place of a ridge vent.

The long central ridge on a gable roof is more effective than the shorter central hip roof ridge. Both roof styles often use off-ridge or box vents, hard-wired or solar-powered vents, or roof turbines.

Gable roofs, though, may have a louvered vent near the top of each gable end to provide cross ventilation. Unfortunately, though, while cross ventilation improves airflow across the underside of the roof decks, it often interferes with the more effective soffit-to-ridge ventilation.

Snow Performance

Roof slope greatly impacts snow performance which is why many hip roofs in high snow areas have steeper slopes than gable roofs on buildings of similar size. Plus, the weight of the snow load on a hip roof is more naturally supported by the shape of the roof and tends to be carried lower on the roof where it is wider and closer to supporting walls.

The snow load on a gable roof is spread across its entire deck and relies on internal bracing to prevent collapse. This is one of the reasons why some insurance companies offer lower rates for homes with hip roofs.

A gable roof sheds snow on only two sides while a hip roof sheds it on all four sides. If you have access doors that need to be kept clear of snow, an entrance on the end or gable wall may be preferable. However, provided the roof is designed for the climate conditions it could be exposed to, the snow performance is fairly equal between the two roof types.

Water Resistance

The pitch or slope of a roof determines its ability to shed rain just as it does snow. The greater the pitch, the better the roof drains since gravity adds a helping hand. Low-slope roofs of either type will shed all forms of precipitation more slowly, making them less resistant to moisture damage. However, the type of roof finish can also influence the resistance with metal roofing being less permeable than most shingle or shake finishes.

A hip roof with the same slope as a gable roof will shed moisture equally well off its four slopes. The hip roof acts like a hat or cap over the whole structure, while a gable roof leaves the gable end walls more exposed. This makes a gable vent susceptible to wind-driven precipitation which can cause moisture damage in the attic or down interior walls. Additionally, a hip roof commonly has a wraparound gutter system to move moisture away from the structure’s foundation, whereas the gable only protects two sides with independent gutters.

Strong Wind Performance

Strong winds or hurricanes are a cause of concern for many homeowners since they can damage roof finishes or even rip roofs off houses. Roof design and orientation are a big part of preventing roof damage by wind forces. Unfortunately, subdivision planning and HOA restrictions often don’t take prevailing winds into consideration. Plus, it’s cheaper to build a gable roof than a hip roof.

A hip roof, even with a higher pitch, is more aerodynamic and self-bracing than a gable roof that leaves high gable walls to be buffeted by wind forces. The buffeting can push the wall and rafters or trusses over and cause the roof to fail.

Strong winds can also cause uplift forces that can pick the roof off the structure and place it elsewhere. Hurricane straps or brackets help prevent the lifting, but not the push at the gable ends. This is another reason some insurance companies offer lower rates for hip-roofed homes.

Insurance Cost

Insurance costs vary for a variety of reasons and also depend on climatic concerns in different areas. A hip roof, with an appropriate slope for regions where high wind or hurricanes are common, can experience insurance discounts up to 30% or higher. The insurance industry recognizes that hip roofs are better able to withstand high winds than gable roofs of any slope, so pass the savings onto the homeowner.

Similar insurance savings are also available in regions with high snow volumes too. However, they more often address roof pitch versus roof style. But they recognize that both gable and hip roof designs will withstand greater snow volumes the steeper their pitch. So, they recognize that pitch is an important consideration in snow performance.


Maintenance depends on roof design and finishes. A rectangular or square building with a gable roof has only one seam at the ridge while a hip roof on a comparable structure has four or five seams or ridges and more surface area.

So, the increased number of seams and greater surface typically result in more maintenance. However, the slope and orientation can also impact maintenance. A gable roof may experience more wind and solar damage than a hip roof due to its broader roof deck.

Roofs with gable or shed windows, or with combinations of roof lines that add one or more valleys, commonly require more maintenance too. Shingles and shakes also will need more care than slate or steel, so the finish can affect the amount of maintenance regardless of roof type.

Plus, a hip roof has four gutters to clean while a gable usually only has two, resulting in more maintenance for a hip roof. It should also be noted, that while a roof may be deemed low maintenance, no roof is maintenance-free.


A hip roof has four roof sections that require more skill and materials to build, sheath, and finish. A gable roof on a structure of similar dimensions is considered smaller, so is less expensive for comparable finishes. Plus, the hip roof requires double the soffits, facia, and gutters. However, the cost of a gable roof typically doesn’t include the framing and finishing of the gable ends as they are considered wall costs, but should be part of the calculation when comparing roof costs.

Both gable and hip roofs can be built using rafter framing or trusses. Trusses usually make for a faster build time, reducing labor costs, and resulting in a less expensive build comparatively. Regardless, though, a hip roof uses 5 to 10% more shingles for a structure with a similar footprint, and can cost 15% to 25% more than a gable roof – adding the construction of the gable ends into the calculation, though, can reduce the overall difference to 5% or less.

Hip and Gable Roof Combination

Hip and Gable Roof Combination

Hip and gable roof combinations are a common sight in residential and commercial districts across North America and elsewhere. It may be a gable roof with a hip roof addition or vice versa or a rectangular hip roof with a gable addition over the entrance area. The combination usually adds more natural lighting to the attic while also reducing wind damage and snow load.

The combination is often more aesthetically pleasing than its two parts and can result in a lower-profile roof with more usable attic space. Many Empire, Georgian, Victorian, Federal, or colonial designs also utilize the hip-gable combination with much of the roof often hidden behind a facade of stone, ironwork, or other materials. It’s also a stronger roof structure than a flat roof or large, low-slope shed roof, so preferable for residential use.

Dutch Hip vs Dutch Gable

A Dutch hip is not a Dutch gable. The Dutch hip is a hip roof with a central ridge that extends at both ends beyond where the ‘Y’ forming corner ridges meet the central ridge.

A Dutch gable is a gable roof with enclosed gable ends, with a hip added to each end that leaves a portion of the gable end exposed. Both may have similar looks, and a different aesthetic look than their base roof structure, but their construction is different.

The differences in construction allow a hip roof to take advantage of a design benefit gable roofs have and vice versa. The Dutch hip is often used to allow natural light and ventilation into the attic space through the ‘gable ends’ created under the extended ridge roof line.

The Dutch gable strengthens the gable roof design with the hip additions to the gable ends while marginally decreasing attic space. They are win-win designs and utilize the innate strengths of the two base roof designs.

Which Is Better Gable or Hip Roof?

A gable roof has two slopes, and a hip roof has four. The ridge on a gable roof runs from one side or end to the other, requiring the end walls to be closed in with a vertical triangle. A gable roof, though, offers opportunities for natural lighting and ventilation and depending on the slope, more usable attic space.

The hip roof is more streamlined for winds from all directions and sheds moisture in four directions. The gable roof presents a slope in two directions to deflect the wind but presents larger vertical gable surfaces that can be brutalized by wind forces. Plus, gable and hip roofs of similar pitch shed moisture equally well.

Both roof designs have their own aesthetic appeal, strengths, and weaknesses. However, the budget is often a factor. So, while a hip roof may cost up to 25% more than a gable roof, the overall house construction cost of a building with a hip vs a gable roof is usually around 5% on roofs of similar sizes.

If the structure is in an area that experiences high winds or hurricanes, a hip roof offers more stability and often reduced insurance rates. As to which is better, it usually comes down to aesthetics, budget, and personal preference.

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