Common roof styles include gable, hipped, mansard, saltbox and gambrel. Different roof styles contribute to the visual style and overall shape of a building and are tailored to withstand different weather conditions.
Gable roofs are most popular in the United States and have a triangular shape with varying slope degrees for snow and rain runoff for areas that experience heavy precipitation. This roof style leaves two sides of a building more vulnerable to the elements, but it is easy to construct and accommodates cathedral ceilings or an extra half-story.
The hipped roof is low-pitched and slopes upward from all sides of a building. The roof is effective in withstanding heavy winds and often incorporates extended eaves that allow snow and rain to run off the slope, away from the building. A variation is the cross-hipped roof, which has two or more independent hipped roofs that intersect. The cross-hipped roof is most popular on buildings that go beyond a simple rectangular or square shape.
The mansard or French gabled roof has a flat top and a unique bell shape. Although it is aesthetically pleasing, the mansard is not designed to withstand heavy snow.
The saltbox roof is similar to the gable roof, but the sides are not the same size. Because of this, the sides slope at different angles.
The gambrel is bell-shaped with several planes and is sometimes considered to be a flat gable roof. This type of roof is most common on large barns.