Gambrel Roof Trusses: Everything You Need to Know

 In Roof trusses

Flat roof truss, monopitch, gable, etc. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide which type of roof to choose for a construction project. Recently, there’s been a resurgence of interest in gambrel roofs, also called barn roofs, due to the growing popularity of modernized farmhouse-style homes that combine the charm of rustic country architecture with contemporary elegance.

In this article, our prefabricated wood structure specialists introduce you to gambrel roofs and outline the various advantages of using this type of roof for either residential or commercial construction.

What is a gambrel roof?

A gambrel roof is a roof with two sides that are usually symmetrical. Each side has two different slopes—the upper slope is gentle, while the lower slope is steeper.

This type of roof generally allows for plenty of ceiling space. It’s perfect for a house, warehouse or barn, hence the name.

Different truss models

What’s the difference between a gambrel roof and a mansard roof?

A gambrel roof is similar to a mansard roof, as they each incorporate two different pitches. The main difference is that a mansard roof has four slopes, while a barn roof has only two. These two roof types look different, but offer many of the same advantages. The important distinction, in terms of snow load and water drainage, is that pitched roofs end in a long fold at the level of the main ridge beam, whereas mansard roofs are comprised of low-pitched roof inside a rectangular-shaped fold, delimited by edge beams.

What are gambrel roof trusses?

A gambrel roof truss is a type of structural wood product that acts as a roof support. Like the roof of the same name, it has two characteristic slopes descending on both sides of a peak. This type of truss is often used to build roofs for barns, sheds and even energy-efficient houses. They are also sometimes called mansard trusses, since they can also be used to build mansard roofs.

Like many other types of roof truss, gambrel roof trusses take advantage of the geometric strength of triangles to distribute the weight of the roof over the building’s walls, which often eliminates the need for interior supports. Angles are generally adjusted to the width and height of a given building to provide maximum strength and durability.

The 4 main styles of gambrel roofs

There are many different gambrel roof styles to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. If you contact the prefabricated roof truss specialists at UsiHome, they will be happy to help you choose the right type for your specific building.

Traditional Gambrel Roof or Barn Roof

This type of roof is best suited to a two-storey building such as a house or large farm building, since it offers extra storage space. It has two slopes, one steep and one shallow. This configuration was the common model in colonial America, so it will give any construction a retro look and feel.

Advantages of a traditional barn roof:

  • Optimal use of space
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Easy to build

The Lean-to or Shed Roof (Skillion)

Commonly seen on small barns and outbuildings, a lean-to roof is the simplest type of roofing. All that’s needed to create the slope is for the front wall to be higher than the rear wall. However, a skillion is not recommended for regions with heavy snowfall, as it is more susceptible to major damage and will require more maintenance. We also recommend adding gutters to avoid stagnant water that could attract mosquitoes.

Advantages of a shed roof:

  • Provides additional sheltered space at the front of your home
  • Allows you to add solar panels
  • Simple, inexpensive and quick to build

The Hipped Roof (or Hip Roof)

This type of gambrel roof is quite rare. A hipped roof has equivalent slopes on all four sides, which meet at the top to form a ridge.

A hip roof is perfect for regions like Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, as it allows snow to slide off and withstands wind well. However, it can be more expensive than other models, as the design process is complex, and it takes more materials to build one.

Advantages of a hipped roof:

  • Highly resistant and durable
  • Perfect for regions with a lot of snow
  • Possibility of adding extra living space

Gable Roof

This common roof type is easily recognized by its triangular shape. However, it is not recommended in windy regions, as parts of the roof may come loose.

Advantages of a gable roof:

  • Ideal for snow and rain run-off
  • Provides good ventilation
  • Provides some extra space

What are the advantages of gambrel roof trusses?

Roofs built with gambrel roof trusses offer many advantages, making them an excellent choice for various types of construction projects.

More space

Since the lower slope of the roof is almost vertical, it gives the upper part of the building more usable space than traditional gable roofs.

Using gambrel roof trusses when building a house creates the possibility of additional living space (a garret) on the upper floor. For garages and sheds, gambrel roof trusses provide more storage space.

Possibility of adding windows

Many builders will suggest adding windows to their customers’ gambrel roofs. It’s an easy way to add natural light to the space.

Adding windows can increase the value of a home, as it improves the building’s appearance.

The roof slopes can be customized

The roof slopes can be customized with a few simple modifications to the dimensions of the roof trusses used to construct the gambrel roof.

In areas that see frequent snowfall, for example, it could be advantageous for the upper part of the roof to have a steeper slope.

How much does a gambrel roof cost?

In general, building a new pitched roof on a house costs between $16,000 and $30,000 on average, which works out at $8 to $15 per square foot. However, there are many factors involved in the construction of a roof truss that can influence its price. These include the slope and size of the roof, geographic location, choice of roofing materials and the complexity of the installation.

For a price quote, contact one of our representatives and we will can provide you with an estimate according to your specifications.

UsiHome: leading manufacturer of gambrel roof trusses

In conclusion, a gambrel roof is a visually-appealing and practical option for a variety of building projects. By exploring the different styles of gambrel roof trusses, including traditional, lean-to, hipped and gable, you can choose the style that will best suit your needs in terms of space, weather resistance and appearance.

The cost of building a gambrel roof truss can vary depending on several factors, such as slope, size, geographical location and choice of materials. To learn more about gambrel roof trusses, or find out if they are the best choice for your next building project, simply contact the UsiHome team.

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