opal lifetime warranty

Guide to Roof Shapes and Roof Anatomy

What can we help you find today?


Common shapes you'll encounter in pitched roofs: Getting to know the different parts of a roof... We offer Roof Replacement Services in the Naperville area!


The roof is one of the most important elements of a home. Each roof is a bit different, sometimes for aesthetics but also for functional reasons. Most roofs are pitched, which means they slope downward so that rain and debris can flow off of it. A roof’s pitch refers to the amount of slope, or vertical rise divided by horizontal span.

Common shapes you’ll encounter in pitched roofs:


This is one of the most often used roof shapes. It’s likely you have at least one of these on your home, shed or garage. The gable refers to the classic triangular wall shape where 2 sloping roof sides meet at a peak. The two sides of the roof are connected along the top ridge and each slope downward. The end walls will look like a triangle.


This roof shape is like a pyramid. It contains 4 connected sloping sides that come to a central peak. All the bottom edges of the roof will appear straight and horizontal.

Clipped Gable

This is a combination of a gable and hip roof. Most of the roof will look like a classic gable, but with an additional sloped part at the top that appears to be clipping the gable. The wall end of the house will look like a trapezoid instead of a triangle. It’s also referred to as half-hipped.


These roofs have 4 sloping sides much like a hip roof, except their lower portions are steeper than the top. Sometimes these roofs will have a flat top and sometimes a hip top. Mansard roofs will often contain dormer windows. Some of these roofs are quite ornate and can have multiple changes in pitch.


This shape is similar to the Mansard except with only 2 roofed sides. They are also often referred to as barn style, as these are very common on barn roofs.

 Here’s a handy infographic showing these common roof shapes:

Roof Shape Combinations

Within these common roof shapes you’ll notice plenty of variations and also combination roofs. Combination roofs are common on larger suburban homes and homes with different sections. Sometimes you’ll see a hip roof combined with a gable roof, or a multi-gable roof. Combination roof shapes are also common when a house has been added onto. Combining different gables and slopes also helps to break up large walls and add visual appeal.

Questions? Call 847-380-8868 in Des Plaines and 888-676-6725 in Naperville

Getting to know the different parts of a roof…

House Roof Anatomy

 Let’s go over some of these roof parts:

Gable – Like we talked about above, Gable is a common name for a roof shape. It also refers to the triangular area of the end wall where roof sides come to a peak.

Ridge – This is the area extending horizontally across the top where roof sides meet.

Hip – Like the Gable, the hip is both a roof shape and a specific roof feature. It’s where 2 sloping sides join at their vertical edges, aka hip. It makes for a pretty hip look 😉

Rake – This is the outermost edge of the roof on a gable wall end. It runs from the ridge/peak to the end/eave.

Drip Edge – An important metal strip along a horizontal edge where run off occurs. This metal strip helps the water run away from the home and prevents it from curling over the edge.

Fascia – This often holds the gutters. It’s a horizontal strip beneath the roof edges, which is also often decorative and covers the rafter ends.

Frieze Board – Trim on the wall of the house just underneath the roof.

Eave – The part of the roof which overhangs beyond the house walls. The eave helps to keep water away from the lower part of the house.

Soffit –  Soffit covers the underside of the eave. It can be decorative and is often vented.

Box End – This is the finished end of the soffit and fascia. It occurs at the corner end of a gable wall where everything meets.

Dormer  – A projection from the roof containing an extra wall area and normally a window.

Roof Ventilation

Ventilation is an essential part of EVERY ROOF in ALL SEASONS, in order to maintain efficiency and protect the home.

  • Gable Vent  located on the wall in the gable area just under the roof.
  • Roof Vent – a vent on a roof plane.
  • Ridge Vent – located along the ridge to allow the upper most heat to escape. A similar vent can also be found on some roof hips, which is called a hip vent.
  • Soffit Vents – many types of soffit are vented. This acts as an intake. Soffit vents encourage air circulation by allowing cooler air up through the soffit. The hotter air will exhaust through the upper vents.

Each roof’s ventilation system will be a bit different. This often depends on the style and size of the roof. Roofs without shade or in harsh climates may need more vents than others.

Cold weather roof ventilation

In the winter, roof ventilation helps to normalize temperatures with the outdoors. It may seem odd at first, “why would anyone want their roof to be cool in winter?”.

  • It prevents condensation! Preventing condensation prevents water damage and mold.
  • It also helps to prevent ice dams and icicles from forming, because snow melt can happen more naturally. Ice dams occur when the snow melts from the bottom of the snow pack and freezes at the edges of the roof. This creates a dam insulated by a top layer of snow. When there is an ice dam, water is stopped from flowing off the roof and water can seep in and cause damage.  Naturally melting snow will start from the top, normally due to sun and warmer temperatures. When it melts naturally, it’s able to flow nicely off the roof. A cooler attic & roof in the winter is a very good thing!

Warm weather roof ventilation

Roofs, as you can imagine, can get pretty hot in the sun. This also heats up the attic. If the air can’t escape, then it can become super heated and reduce home energy efficiency. This can also cause condensation to develop on cold pipes and cold surfaces.

Looking for a roofing pro?

We offer Roof Replacement Services in the Naperville area!

Complete roof replacement is one of our specialties at Opal Enterprises. We’re a GAF Master Elite Roofing Contractor, which means we are certified to offer top of the line roofing warranties and products from GAF. During your roof replacement, our contractors can also help you improve roofing ventilation and energy efficiency. We work on all shapes of roofs. We’re also Certified Green Roofers! We recycle old shingles and offer energy saving shingle options. Our service area includes the west and southwest suburbs of Chicagoland. Learn more about our roof replacement and home renovation services in Naperville…