Roof Types

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright April 2009, Oast House Archive; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.

TQ3280 : City Roofscape by Oast House Archive
A basic photographic illustration of various roof types found within Great Britain.

❖ Traditional roof forms


TQ6554 : Houses on Butcher's Lane by Oast House Archive TQ2144 : Jubilee Hall by Andy Potter TF0923 : New houses by Bob Harvey
The side wall continues up to the roof ridge.

Double (multiple) gabled

These were common in large Georgian homes, where roof timbers large enough to cover the complete span were unavailable, or prohibitively expensive, but are still being built today for Aesthetic reasons

TF0923 : House on Morton cross roads by Michael Trolove TQ5240 : Mitre Oast, Fordcombe Road, Fordcombe, Kent by Oast House Archive SO2950 : Lower Welson Farm by Jonathan Billinger TR1762 : Calcott Oast, Calcott Hill, Sturry, Kent by Oast House Archive TF2522 : New old flats by Bob Harvey


TQ5202 : The Clergy House, The Tye, Alfriston, East Sussex by Oast House Archive SO5643 : The Old Rectory by Pauline E

Double (multiple) hipped

TQ5970 : The Oast House, Westwood Farm, Highcross Road, Southfleet, Kent by Oast House Archive TQ6554 : Double Hipped Roof, Herne Pound Cottage by Oast House Archive

Half Hipped

Also known as a Barn Hip in vernacular and traditional buildings.

TQ5558 : Oast House on Park Lane, Kemsing, Kent by Oast House Archive SU9247 : Houses in The Street, Puttenham by Humphrey Bolton


SU8712 : Roof gablet on Bayleaf House by Oast House Archive TQ8858 : Norwood Farmhouse by Penny Mayes

Half hip and gablet

SO8714 : Barn, Upton St. Leonards by Derek Harper


SE0825 : "Bellevue"  Hopwood Lane by Stanley Walker TL0022 : Dunstable: Aldbanks by Nigel Cox

Not to be confused with Gambrel, the mansard is double pitched to all four sides.


SE0825 : Social Club, Gibbet Street, Halifax by Humphrey Bolton ST4226 : Mansard Roof House Langport Somerset by Pam Goodey
Also known as double pitch. Often confused with the mansard (above).


Where a smaller lower addition is added to a building, the new roof makes one continuous roof with the main roof, and is often at a shallower pitch to the main roof.

TQ7635 : Oast House by Oast House Archive
Side Outshut

TQ5340 : Barn on Coopers Lane by Oast House Archive TQ8842 : The Thatched Barn, Biddenden Green, Pluckley Road, Smarden, Kent by Oast House Archive
End outshut

Lean to

SP4536 : Bloxham Grove Farm Mill by Chris Allen SX4484 : Farm building at West Raddon by Derek Harper
Similar to an outshut with a small addition to the side of the building, however the roofs are not continuous with one another. Also known as a Pent roof

Mono pitch

TQ8209 : House on Croft Road by Oast House Archive
A simple single pitched gabled ended roof.

NT2470 : After the snow by M J Richardson Double mono pitch

❖ Flat roofs

Usually in mono pitch form, flat roofs are typically used in domestic house extensions, tower blocks, and service, public and council buildings where cost of build and ease of maintenance is a priority. This included such buildings as fire stations, schools and electricity substations. A roof is usually considered flat at 10° or less.

Popular due to their lower cost, low roofline and smaller volume, though not always popular in terms of aesthetics.

SU6100 : New Flats, Weevil Lane-Gosport by Colin Babb SP2965 : 1960s Town houses, Emscote Gardens by Robin Stott

❖ Shallow roofs

Simple corrugated metal, plastic or asbestos flat or shallow roof, used on agricultural buildings and warehouses.
SP3766 : Fosse Farm, buildings by Andy F

❖ Dormers

A Dormer is a separate smaller roofed structure protruding above the main roof, providing additional windows and space in the roof space or attic of a building.

Dormers are often retrospective additions to a building, the owner wishing to make more from their unused roofspace. In recent decades roof lights have often been added instead of dormers due to their low cost of build.

Dormer types;

Gable fronted dormer
TQ3088 : Crouch End Hill, N8 by Nigel Cox

Hipped dormer
SU4352 : Egbury Manor by Graham Horn

Flat roof dormer
Sometimes known as a Box dormer
TQ8209 : Flat Roof Dormer windows on George Street by Oast House Archive

Shed dormer
TQ3882 : Shed dormers of House Mill by Oast House Archive
A shallow pitch roof falling the same direction as the main roof.

Wall dormer
TQ1153 : Dormers, Effingham by Colin Smith TQ7953 : Gabled Wall dormer at Stoneacre by Oast House Archive
The main wall continues above the eaves line.

Round topped dormer
TQ3280 : Round Topped Dormers by Oast House Archive

Circular windowed dormer
An Oculus dormer is typical of French classical architecture, brought to Great Britain.
TA2608 : Spectacle Terrace  -  65- 96 Abbey Road by David Wright

Swept dormer
SO9841 : Thatched cottage in Elmley Castle by Philip Halling
On thatched buildings.

Canted dormer
NS5651 : Townhead, Polnoon Street by Kenneth Mallard

NH0681 : Shenavall bothy and Beinn Dearg Mor by Roy Turnbull
In recent decades it has become increasingly popular to install roof lights as a quicker and cheaper alternative to dormers. Made famous by Velux.

❖ Parapets

Used in combination with the roof types above. The main walls of the building continue up hiding the eaves of the roof. Often used on taller buildings, where maintenance to eaves is made more difficult. They were made popular in London after the building act of 1707 was introduced which banned the projecting wooden eaves to reduce the risk of spread of fire to neighbouring buildings. The style became fashionable during Georgian times.

TL8160 : The Summerhouse, Ickworth Park by Bob Jones TQ4991 : Collier Row: Collier Row Road (2) by Nigel Cox TQ3881 : Bromley: St Leonard's Road by Nigel Cox TQ3782 : Bromley by Bow: Arrow Road, E3 by Nigel Cox

❖ Curved

SK8762 : Cattle Shed by Richard Croft SO8740 : Outbuildings, Sudeley Farm by Bob Embleton
Agricultural buildings often used simple curved corrugated iron roofs.

TQ2763 : Roof of the Good Shepherd church by Stephen Craven TQ2979 : Cardinal Place, Victoria, London by Richard Rogerson SP8136 : Funky shapes by Malcolm Campbell
They are now very popular amongst new buildings, particularly those on a large scale.

❖ Dome

SU9679 : Chalvey: Slough Borough Council salt dome by Nigel Cox TQ3281 : St Paul's and Flowers by Martin Addison

❖ Specialized roofs

TQ5853 : Oast House at Mote Farm, Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Kent by Oast House Archive
Conical Oast House roofs, designed to channel hot air up through the kiln.

J5776 : Ballycopeland Windmill by Rossographer
Windmill pivoting roofs, often called 'Onion cap'

TQ6410 : Observatory at Herstmonceux Castle, Herstmonceux, East Sussex by Oast House Archive TQ2472 : The new roof to Centre Court Wimbledon by Steve  Fareham

❖ Modern Roofs

Nowadays there are a large choice of materials used in roof construction, including different metals and glass which can produce interesting and imaginative shapes.

TL8564 : Debenhams, Arc Shopping Centre, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk by Oast House Archive ST8415 : Grand Design in the Country by Simon Scurr NT2674 : Modern roof garden from Calton Hill by Duncan Grey SJ3390 : Ancient and modern. 750 years apart. by stan lewis NS8660 : Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd by Richard Webb TA0927 : Albert Dock Warehouses by Andy Beecroft NZ2564 : Tyneside rooftops, Gateshead by Christine Matthews


SK4496 : Corus Rotherham, the Bright Bar rolling mill by Alan Murray-Rust
A functional variant of the Saw-Tooth is the Factory "Northlight" roof, where the steeper edge of each sawtooth is fully glazed and faces North. This was common in the late 19th and early 20th Century, when artificial light was expensive, and gave good illumination throughout a wide span structure. By taking the light from the North a more diffuse light was produced, which did not vary much during the day and which avoided overheating in summer
SE1231 : Works, Pasture Lane, Clayton by Humphrey Bolton SE2734 : Kirkstall Road, Leeds by Rich Tea SK5616 : Saw tooth roof by Alan Murray-Rust

Hyperbolic paraboloidal

SK7173 : Sam Scorer, Little Chef by Richard Croft SK9771 : Lincolnshire Motor Company Showrooms by Richard Croft


NJ5529 : Ardmore Distillery by Anne Burgess


H4672 : Orangefield Park, Hospital Road, Omagh by Kenneth  Allen

❖ Unusual roofs

SY0083 : Exmouth: A La Ronde by Nigel Cox TQ7643 : Crossway, Pagehurst Road, Staplehurst, Kent "Grand Designs" by Oast House Archive

Grid shell
SU8712 : Inside the Weald and Downland Gridshell by Hugh Chevallier SU8712 : the Downland Gridshell by Janine Forbes
Not particularly well used method of construction. The whole building structure is constructed from a lattice grid of thin wood or steel. It allows for more organic and unusual shapes.

❖ Materials

Clay Tile

TR0644 : Roof Tiles by Oast House Archive


NJ2749 : Slate Roof by Anne Burgess


SE1406 : Choppards, Wooldale (former township),Holmfirth by Humphrey Bolton

Horsham slabs

A local variation of slate roof in Surrey and Sussex, sometimes with triple overlap
TQ4053 : Lychgate to St Peter's church by Stephen Craven


TQ6745 : Felt Tiles by Oast House Archive


NT5333 : The roof at the Borders General Hospital by Walter Baxter


NB1944 : Blackhouse at Na Gearannan by M J Richardson SU1026 : Thatching, Coombe Bissett by Maigheach-gheal SP7449 : Rosebud Cottage by M J Richardson

Corrugated sheet metal

SS9789 : Multi-coloured metal roof, Evanstown by Jaggery SP9412 : The "Iron Room", Tring Station by Gerald Massey

Profiled sheet metal

NJ9967 : New housing on Quarry Road by John M


NS8668 : Old Wester Whin (Ruin) [4] by Robert Murray


TM0533 : Lead roof on St Mary’s Church Dedham by PAUL FARMER


TQ3280 : Round Topped Dormers by Oast House Archive


often used on churches
SP6737 : Church of St Mary by Trevor Rickard


SK3586 : Sheffield, S1 - Paternoster Row by David Hallam-Jones

Green roof

TQ7643 : Crossway, Pagehurst Road, Staplehurst, Kent by Oast House Archive TQ9618 : Green roofs at Lydd Road by Oast House Archive

Also know as 'Living Roofs'

❖ Further reading

TQ7546 : Wealden Hall House, Underlynn Farm Cottages, Underlyn Lane, Marden, Kent by Oast House Archive
The traditional roof forms section is inspired and aided by "Traditional Buildings of Britain" by R.W. Runskill

Wikipedia: GridshellExternal link

illustrations © Oast House Archive (all rights reserved)
You are not logged in login | register