A Gambrel roof uses a double-sided design with two slopes on each side. Typically, one slope is steeper than the other one. The name Gambrel comes from the Latin word gamba meaning horse’s leg. It is so named because the two-slope design resembles the back legs of a horse. Gambrel roofs are popular in Dutch and Georgian style houses and large buildings such as: barns, garages and large plants. This type of roofing has been in use since the colonial period, and is preferred for its aesthetic appeal and durability. The style, however, possesses a few shortcomings. In this post, we discuss gambrel roof advantages and disadvantages.
Gambrels possess a classic look, symbolic of colonial America. The look is synonymous with Dutch and Georgian style homes, which were popular in classical American architecture. Construction projects that add the gambrel style thus associate themselves with this historical heritage. Some world-famous housing project also incorporate this style to their architecture, thus improving its popularity. These homes include the Thomas Riggs house in Massachusetts, and the Hudson housing community.
Easy to Build
Gambrels remain relatively simple to construct and frame. The frame makes use of two rafter systems attached by a centered horizontal nailer or the use of gussets which further simplify the process.
Due to the ease of construction, gambrel roofs utilize minimum resources in terms of labor, time and money.
While relatively simple to construct, gambrel roofs offer a better aesthetic appeal compared to other roofing types. The symmetry of gambrel roof construction is complex, yet easy on the eye, presenting an elegance that is absent in other roofing styles. The two lines offer a simple yet elegant statement.
The steep lower slopes allows for plenty of headspace, giving homes a large loft space to be used as a storage attic or guest bedroom. Gambrel roofs commonly include dormer windows which add more space. Supporting trusses allow for even more storage space compared to traditional rafters.
Gambrel roofs are not an ideal choice in areas that experience adverse weather conditions. The roof does not withstand heavy winds, significant snowfall and extreme rainfall. The open roofing style can cave in under extreme pressure. Reinforced trusses can enable the gambrel roof to handle intense weather.
Even with proper design and waterproofing, gambrel roofs require regular care and maintenance. It is important to carry out annual inspection to check for damage due water, wind and storms.
It is important for the installation personnel to consider the building’s orientation. Heavy rains and winds travelling southwards can easily affect the rooftop area.
Discrimination and differentiation
Modern bold roofs possess modification in affix designs to improve their aesthetic appeal. These modifications make them harder to differentiate from the traditional gambrel design.
Gambrel roofs also present a challenge in air circulation and ventilation. The installer needs to put up a roof vent system during installation, since fixer-uppers are hard to achieve. Modern construction usually treats the lower slope as a wall to help seal the venting.
Today we have discussed the merits and demerits of gambrel roofing, and this post can help as a guideline when considering this style in construction projects.