Gambrel Roof Designs

Gambrel roofs, almost identical to Mansard roofs, supposedly made their first appearance in the late seventeenth century. The first design is said to have been of Harvard University. However, it cannot be said for sure.These are quite popular in rural and suburban areas because of how they look. Here is everything (that you need to know) about Gambrel roofs.


Gambrel roofs have two slopes with one of the slopes being prominently steeper than the other one. To be precise, the lower slope is steeper than the upper one is.

What separates Gambrel roofs from Mansard roofs is the lack of presence of vertical gambles on the shorter sides of the roof. This can prove to be both something good and something not so good. More on that later.The sheer slopes allow for effective drainage while providing a solid attic space. It’s not just the architectural design that draws people towards it. Rather, it is the amount of attic space and the aesthetic look which do so.

Gambrel roof


Rumour has it that Harvard is home to the first-ever Gambrel roof. Dominantly seen in Dutch-style houses and barns, it wasn’t always the case. Unlike today’s era, one in which Gambrel roofs can be seen in many countries and are now a part of a variety of different cultures, Gambrel roofs were only seen in the rural areas (barns, farms) and occasionally in coastal areas in the US.

A five-minute walk in the streets of the UK will be more than enough to convince you that Gambrel roofs are one of the most popular types of roofs in the UK (though, many people may not be aware that the roof is named such).

The keen interest and inspiration seem to have originated from the US – mostly from coastal and cold areas. Ample attic space and the aesthetic look made this roof a perfect choice for homes in the UK.


Of many other advantages, the following are some of the prominent advantages of having a Gambrel roof:

1.  More Attic Space  2.  Aesthetic Look  3.  Effective Drainage  4.  Cost-effectiveness  5.  Room for Sunlight

Attic Space

The steep slopes ensure that there is ample space for the attic. For people who need large attics, this is a great option – just as good, if not more, than Mansard roofs.

Aesthetic Look

Of course, functionality isn’t everything. Gambrel roofs are not only great when it comes to functionality but they are also quite decent.

Although they were previously only used in barns and farms, nowadays, some of the most luxurious (and decent) homes can be seen having this.

Effective Drainage

Because of the steep slope of the roof, the roof is great for cold areas. The roof can withstand rain and snow easily because of its design. Unlike with Mansard roofs, you do not have to worry about the rain or snow as much. As for the rain, the water slides down the roof. In both of the cases (rainfall and medium snowfall), there is no considerable threat.


Since the roof only has slopes on two of the sides, it does not require a lot of materials. In fact, it’s not just this because of this the material usage is pretty low. Because of the internal architectural and engineering design, the roof is quite effective at keeping the material usage to a low level. Technically speaking, the design requires fewer support columns as compared to other roofs do. Since only two roof beams are required, the cost comes out to be quite low. If you’re on a budget and want that historical vibe and touch, this is a great option for you.

Windows and Sunlight

The lack of two roof beams is a blessing in disguise; there are only two roof beams. Consequently, you can add a window or two at the top. Even a single-window can allow a lot of sunlight to enter and make the building a well-lit one. For those of you who want natural sunlight, Gambrel roofs would be more suitable than any other roof would be.


1. Durability  2.   Ventilation  3.  Maintenance


In the upper sections, It is mentioned how Gambrel roofs use only two roof beams. Although this does save the amount of material used, it does decrease the durability. Consequently, the durability and strength of the roof are compromised. Gambrel roofs aren’t as strong as roofs with four roof beams are. Though the roof can withstand rain and snow, it can’t do so with heavy snowfall. Snow will end up sitting on the lower part of the roof. Not only this, but the roof doesn’t hold up pretty well against the wind.


Because of the large attic space, there can be ventilation issues. Ultimately, this might lead to moisture damage. This isn’t as much of an issue as heavy snow is, but it still needs to be taken into account.


Definitely not easy to maintain, Gambrel roofs require frequent maintenance to be done by professionals. Maintenance should be done annually for the best lifespan. Winds, snowfall and rainfall are the main factors that influence how frequently maintenance should be done. Wear can be created in Gambrel roofs. To counter this and increase the lifespan of the roof, frequent maintenance is essential.

Worth It?

There’s no long answer to this. Gambrel roofs are definitely worth it – especially for people who want the maximum attic space on a tight budget. The sub-urban-like feel and vibe make this great for the countryside. However, it is not just limited to rural areas. Even in urban areas, Gambrel roofs look quite beautiful and unique.

For extreme weather conditions, a better choice would be Mansard roofs because of their strong infrastructure.

In a nutshell, Gambrel roofs are worth the money because of their low material usage, and optimized space for attics.

What do you like (and dislike) about Gambrel roofs? Or are you looking for an upgradation of a roof under which you are sitting right now? Just a click away! Check MC roofing expert services and get a quote!

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