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Gable Roofs

Used For Centuries, Gables are Cost-Effective and Weather Resistant

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Offering architectural flair as well as protection from the elements, gable roofs are a staple of the classic American home. If you're thinking about installing a gable roof on your house, Home Improvement Educator has all the angles covered, including a rundown of benefits and costs.

What is Gable Roofing?

Origins of the Term "Gable"

Strictly speaking, a "gable" does not refer to the type of roof on your house, but rather to the two exterior walls (or in the case of a dormer, a single exterior wall) that support the roof. These walls are known as "gable ends". The shape of these walls and the roof framing needed to connect them dictates the shape of the roof, which, in turn, led to the term "gable roof".

Gable Roof Description

A gable roof is a roof that has two opposing, sloped sides that come together at the top of the roof line. From a bystander's point of view, the roof resembles an upside-down V. The peak of the roof runs perpendicular to the gable ends.

The slope, or pitch, of the roof is variable and typically expressed as a set of two numbers (1 in 12, 8 in 12, 12 in 12, etc.). The first number represents the amount of rise (a vertical unit) in the roof; the second is the run (a horizontal unit). For example, an 8 in 12 pitch roof can be expressed as 8 inches of vertical rise for every 12 inches of horizontal run.

Gables aren't limited to a particular orientation. They can be located at the front, back, and sides of the house. Gable roofing also is not limited to a single gable. In fact, it is much more common to find a gable roof with two, three, or more gables. "The House of the Seven Gables", a book by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, is set in a New England colonial home in Salem, Massachusetts that still stands today. The house, with seven distinct gables, is a great depiction of this roofing style.

Benefits of a Gable Roof

  • The primary purposes of a gable roof are to provide stability (a triangle is the strongest geometric shape in nature) and to facilitate water and snow runoff. As a general rule, the steeper the slope of a gable, the more effective it will be at deflecting rain and shedding snow.
  • The eaves of the roof extend past a house's exterior walls, offering protection from falling debris and the elements.
  • The design of a gable allows for extra living space above the home's top floor. Gables are typically constructed for use as an attic, although they can be transformed into extra living space with a bit of electrical work, sheetrock and flooring.

Gable Roof Costs

The following costs are based on roof installation during new home construction. Changing your existing roof to a gable roof can easily add $5,000 to $10,000 to the project cost.

  • As a VERY general guideline, labor for framing a gable roof costs $8 to $12 per square foot of roof surface. For an average 1,500 square foot roof this works out to $12,000 to $18,000. Multiple gables and dormers can result in prices as high as $25,000.
  • Framing materials cost between $1 to $2 per square foot (or $1,500 to $3,000 for a 1,500 square foot roof).
  • Roof coverings (asphalt shingles, wood shakes, slate, etc.) cost approximately $4 to $20 per square foot installed ($6,000 to $30,000) depending on the materials selected.
  • Pre-constructed gable trusses are available and significantly cut down on labor costs - as much as 30% - because the roof doesn't have to be built from scratch. Discuss this option with a contractor to learn about how much money it can save you.

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