Gable roof design ideas, inspiration & pictures

What is a gable roof?

Any roof, even the ones that look completely flat, needs to slope to some degree to allow rainwater (and in countries where it’s a common occurrence, snow) to drain off. Gabled roofs (also known as pitched roofs) are the kinds that have two sloping sides that meet in the middle at a ridge, creating end walls with a triangular extension at the top – this is known as the gable. They are easily recognisable by their triangular shapes and are quite common in South Africa.

Different gable roof designs

The standard gable roof is available in several designs:

Box gable roof

Box gable roofs present a triangular extension at each end of the house, with the roof section boxed at the end.

Front gable

A front gable roof is placed at the front of the house, with the front door usually built underneath the gable. This type of roof is quite common in colonial-style homes.

Cross gable roof

This design consists of two or more gable rooflines that intersect at an angle, most often with the two ridges perpendicular to each other. Houses with this type of roof often have more complex layouts due to how a cross gable roof will affect the house’s shape and structure.

Gable roof with shed roof addition

In the case of an extension, a shed roof is usually added to the existing gable roof ridge. This also provides more headroom and space without having to change the roof’s entire structure.

Dutch gable roof

A quite common design in South Africa, particularly with vintage colonial homes in and around Cape Town. A Dutch gable roof is a mixture between a gable and hip roof, with the gable roof placed on top of the hip roof to provide more space within the loft.

Materials for gable roofs

Gable roofs can be covered with almost any type of material that will ensure a sturdy, waterproof surface. Popular options, both in South Africa and abroad, include:

·         asphalt shingles (reasonable price and easy to install, yet not very energy efficient and can mean a higher indoor temperature)

·         cedar shakes (enjoys an authentic look, but requires regular maintenance and can be priced high)

·         metal/zinc (although energy efficient, it can be a costly option that also echoes quite loudly during rainstorms)

·         clay or concrete tiles (strong and durable, although they can be quite heavy, meaning internal structure enhancements might need to be implemented to support the extra weight)

·         terra cotta.

Note that should the gable roof also contain hips and valleys, it should either be shingled or roofed with metal shingles or standing seam to help prevent roof leaks.

But before you start dreaming about that perfect gable (or flat, or hipped, or any other possible design) roof, keep in mind that that it’s always advisable to have the right professional (such as a roofing expert) in charge to ensure the finished structure is not only beautiful and strong, but also safe.

Which is best: hipped roofs or gable roofs?

Both hipped- and gable roofs enjoy popularity when it comes to South African residential structures, but how do you decide which one is ideal for you? By comparing their pros and cons.

Gable roof


Gable roofs easily shed rainwater, provide more space for a loft or attic, and also present more ventilation. Due to their simple designs, they are easier to build and more budget-friendly than other more complex designs.


Gable roofs can be problematic in areas with high winds, with the frames collapsing if they are not properly constructed with adequate supports. High winds can also result in gable roof materials peeling away.

Hipped roof

A hip roof is sloped on all four sides, with the sides being of equal length and meeting at the top to form the ridge.


Hip roofs tend to be more stable than gable roofs, as the inward slope of the four sides is what makes them sturdier and more durable. They are also excellent options for high-wind areas and provide adequate sloping for rainwater to easily slide off.


Hip roofs are more expensive, have more complex designs and require more building materials. In addition, if there are dormers built into the overall design of a hip roof, the additional seams and valleys present a higher risk of water leaks around dormers, if the roofing system is not properly installed or if the end-walls of a dormer are not correctly flashed.

How homify can help

No matter what your roofing needs (or anything other relating to architecture and interior design), homify is sure to provide the right designs to inspire you. And thanks to our professionals page, where we showcase an extensive range of experts throughout South Africa (and abroad), your search for the perfect architect / landscape designer / painter / plumber / roofing company (to name but a few) has just been made so much easier.