Barn roof styles – which one is right for your timber framed project?
No matter what timber framed barn project you are planning, whether oak front barn, barn conversion, hay barn, American barn or timber framed house, the roof will be a crucial consideration in its design. When it comes to barn roof styles, there are several popular options to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. We explore some common barn roof styles, their associated pros and cons, and the factors to consider when choosing a roof style for your timber building.
A gable roof is one of the most common and recognisable roof styles, featuring two sloping sides, commonly referred to as “gable ends”, that meet at a ridge and form a triangular shape. The slopes can have varying pitches, but they typically have a steeper angle to allow for effective water drainage. It is often referred to as a “pitched” or “peaked” roof. The gable roof is characterised by its simplicity and efficiency in shedding water and snow.
- Excellent water drainage: The steep slopes of a gable roof allow rainwater and snow to easily slide off, reducing the risk of leaks and water damage.
- Ample loft space: The triangular shape provides a spacious loft area for storage or potential living space.
- Easy construction: Gable roofs are relatively simple to build, making them cost-effective.
- Susceptible to wind damage: Gable roofs can be vulnerable to strong winds due to their high profile. Without proper reinforcement, they may suffer from uplift and damage during severe storms.
A hipped roof is a roof style characterised by slopes on all four sides, also called “hip rafters”, that converge at a ridge. These slopes are typically of equal pitch, although variations are possible. Unlike a gable roof, a hipped roof does not have vertical gable ends. Instead, the ends of the roof have a trapezoidal shape, formed by the intersection of the sloping planes. The hip roof style offers a distinct and elegant look and provides several functional advantages.
- Excellent stability: The design of a hip roof provides superior resistance to strong winds and stable load distribution.
- Enhanced aesthetics: Hip roofs offer a more refined and elegant appearance, making them suitable for barns that require a sophisticated look.
- Durable construction: The hip roof style generally requires fewer roof materials and has fewer exposed edges, reducing the risk of damage and leaks.
- Limited attic space: Hip roofs have less usable attic or storage space compared to other styles, as the sloping sides limit headroom.
- Higher construction costs: The complexity of the hip roof design often translates into higher construction costs due to additional framing and materials.
A mono-pitched roof, also known as a shed roof or single-sloped roof, is a roof style characterised by a single sloping plane that covers the entire roof. Unlike traditional roofs with multiple slopes, a mono-pitched roof has a single angle of inclination, creating a simple and modern design. This roof style offers unique architectural opportunities and practical advantages.
- Modern aesthetics: Mono-pitched roofs provide a sleek and contemporary look that complements modern architectural styles. The clean lines and simplicity of the design create an appealing visual impact.
- Natural light and views: The steep slope of a mono-pitched roof allows large windows or skylights to be incorporated along the slope. This design maximises natural light intake, enhances views, and creates a bright and open interior space.
- Efficient water drainage: The single slope of a mono-pitched roof ensures efficient water drainage. Rainwater runs off quickly, reducing the risk of pooling, leaks, or water damage. This feature is particularly advantageous in areas with high precipitation.
- Versatile interior space: The high end of the slope in a mono-pitched roof provides ample headroom and creates opportunities for versatile interior space utilisation. It allows for the inclusion of lofts, mezzanines, or storage areas, maximising the usable space within the structure.
- Cost-effective construction: Mono-pitched roofs are generally simpler and less complex to construct compared to roofs with multiple slopes. The straightforward design and reduced materials make them a cost-effective option for both residential and commercial projects.
- Limited ceiling height: While the high end of the slope provides ample headroom, the low end may have limited clearance. This can restrict the height of walls or furniture in certain areas of the structure.
- Limited loft space: The sloping plane of a mono-pitched roof reduces the availability of loft space compared to roofs with multiple slopes. This can limit storage options or the ability to incorporate traditional attic areas.
- Reduced rainwater collection: Unlike roofs with multiple slopes, a mono-pitched roof does not collect rainwater as efficiently. If rainwater collection or harvesting is a priority, alternative roof styles may be more suitable.
- Limited insulation options: Insulating a mono-pitched roof can be more challenging due to the single slope. Achieving consistent and effective insulation throughout the roof may require additional planning and specialised techniques.
- Design limitations: The unique slope of a mono-pitched roof may impose design limitations on the overall structure. It may not be suitable for certain architectural styles or specific building requirements.
A catslide roof is a unique roof style recognised by a single sloping plane that extends beyond the main roofline of a building. It is also known as a “lean-to” or “pent” roof. Catslide roofs are typically found on the rear or side of a building and have a gentle slope. They have a distinctive and charming appearance, and they offer specific advantages and considerations.
- Aesthetic appeal: Catslide roofs add architectural interest and charm to a building. Their unique design stands out and can enhance the overall aesthetics, especially in historic or traditional-style structures.
- Efficient water drainage: Catslide roofs have a gentle slope that allows rainwater to flow off easily. The extended slope provides extra coverage and protection for the building’s exterior, reducing the risk of water damage.
- Versatile use of space: The extended slope of a catslide roof creates additional covered space adjacent to the main building. This space can be utilised for various purposes, such as storage, outdoor seating areas, or shelter for firewood, bicycles, or gardening equipment.
- Cost-effective construction: Catslide roofs are generally simpler and less costly to construct compared to complex roof styles. The straightforward design and reduced materials make them an economical option, particularly for smaller structures or extensions.
- Limited ceiling height: Catslide roofs typically have a lower slope compared to other roof styles. This can result in limited headroom and reduced ceiling height within the space directly under the catslide roof.
- Limited loft space: The sloping nature of a catslide roof may limit the availability of traditional loft space. This can restrict storage options or the ability to incorporate typical attic areas in the building’s design.
- Design limitations: Catslide roofs may not be suitable for all architectural styles or specific building requirements. The distinct look of a catslide roof may not harmonise with certain contemporary or modern designs.
- Reduced natural light: The extended slope of a catslide roof can cast a shadow over windows or openings in the adjacent wall, potentially reducing the amount of natural light entering the building.
- Insulation challenges: Insulating a catslide roof can be more complex due to the unique slope and configuration. Achieving consistent and effective insulation throughout the roof may require additional planning and specialised techniques.
Factors to consider when choosing a barn roof style
When choosing a barn roof style, you need to weight up several factors before deciding on which design is most complementary to your timber-framed project:
Climate and weather conditions
The climate and prevailing weather patterns in your area play a significant role in determining the appropriate barn roof style. For instance, regions with heavy snowfall may benefit from steep roof pitches (such as gable or gambrel roofs) to prevent snow accumulation and facilitate snow shedding. Areas prone to high winds might require more wind-resistant designs like hip roofs. Consider the temperature ranges, precipitation levels, wind speeds, and other weather factors specific to your location.
Function and use
The intended use of the barn is another important consideration. Determine whether the barn will be used for storing agricultural equipment, housing livestock, storing hay or crops, or serving as a workshop or recreational space. The roof style should accommodate the specific requirements of your intended use, such as providing ample headroom, proper ventilation, or sufficient storage space.
The visual appeal of the barn and how it blends with its surroundings may be a consideration, especially if the barn is in a residential or scenic area. Some roof styles, like roofs, are often associated with a traditional or rustic barn aesthetic, while others, like hip roofs, offer a more modern or elegant look. Choose a style that aligns with your desired architectural aesthetics.
The structural integrity and load-bearing capacity of the barn should be evaluated when selecting a roof style. Different roof styles exert different forces on the supporting structure, and the barn’s framework must be able to withstand these loads. Factors such as span, weight distribution, and internal supports should be carefully analysed to ensure the chosen roof style is compatible with the barn’s structural capabilities.
Budget and cost
The budget allocated for the construction or renovation of the barn will influence the choice of roof style. Some roof designs, such as complex hip roofs, may involve higher construction costs due to additional materials, labour, or engineering requirements. Consider the initial installation costs, long-term maintenance costs, and the overall affordability of the chosen roof style within your budget.
Local regulations and codes
Check with local authorities to ensure compliance with any regulations regarding barn construction, including roof styles, height restrictions, setback requirements, and permits. It’s important to understand any restrictions or specific guidelines that may influence your choice of roof style.
Barn roof inspiration
At National Timber Buildings, we have in-house designers who will be happy to create the perfect barn, stable, or timber building for you. Our design process is simple but thorough, and we can work to your specifications and needs to put together a design that will more than satisfy your requirements. Or, if you know exactly what you want from your timber-frame barn or other wooden buildings, we will work to your requirements.