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6 Most Common Australian Roof Types – Pros & Cons
If we’re playing Pictionary right now, and the word to guess is “roof”, your best chance of winning is by simply drawing a triangle over a square box. Nothing more, nothing less because it’s easily the most recognizable type of roof in Australia, and maybe anywhere else in the world.
No one would draw the roof profile of Sydney Opera House and expect someone to guess “roof”, right?
It’s common knowledge that triangular shapes are the universal symbol for roofs. However, roofs may come in various shapes and forms. Not just a triangle.
You may categorize house roofs into different types in several ways: by the roof materials, by the popular architectural styles from various eras, or simply by the shapes of the roof. But generally speaking, the term “roof type” usually implies the roof shape or roof profile of your house.
Each type of roof, or shape, has its benefits and disadvantages that you certainly need to factor in when buying or designing your house.
The shape of the roof usually depends on the shape and size of your house, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t choose whatever type of roof your heart desires.
Here in Australia, below are some of the most popular roof types that you can choose from.
1. Gabled roof
When you make a kid draw a house, chances are they’ll draw a house with a triangular and pointed roof almost automatically. That’s when you know that this classic triangular roof design, also called gabled or peaked, is certainly a crowd favourite.
Gabled roofs are normally composed of two roof planes that are connected to a ridge at the centre, forming a triangular shape. Hence the name, peaked roof.
This design is easily a great choice for a lot of Australian homeowners because it gives you ample space for your attic, which could then be used as a storage room, a studio, or an extra bedroom.
If you’re also looking to buy or design your dream home with this kind of roof, below are some pros and cons to consider.
The best option for those on a budget
Its simplicity entails cheaper construction costs since you won’t use that many materials
Because it’s popular, it’s also easy to construct as a lot of builders have mastered this style already
Rainwater, snow, and debris will fall off easily due to the steep slope
The extra space that gabled roofs offer is everything!
Nothing, really. Just make sure to maintain your roof regularly to keep it in tip-top shape
2. Flat roof
As the name suggests, this type of roof is, well, flat. It’s easily recognizable and there’s no chance of mistaking it for any other type.
Flat roofs are most popular among builders of modern homes, apartment blocks, high rises, and commercial buildings. This is mainly because they’re easy to build, economical, and stylish if you like simplicity.
The best thing about it is that you can walk, skip, run, and hop on top of it, making it a lot safer for maintenance compared to traditional roofs that are sloped.
Okay, here’s a confession: despite the name, flat roofs are not 100% flat. They just appear flat, but technically, they are pitched a little to allow water runoff.
It’s easily accessible for maintenance
A lot safer to walk on than pitched roofs
When cleaning, you can easily spot the debris
The normal life expectancy of these roofs is 20 years, give or take
Requires more maintenance as large debris doesn’t easily fall off
It holds rain and snow longer than sloped roofs
Water puddles form on top of it when it rains
3. Skillion roof
Now onto the flat roof’s half-brother, the skillion.
Basically, this type is just a flat roof with a visibly significant pitch or slope. It often comes on a single roof plane, and it’s never attached to another roof plane or surface.
Skillion can also mean “a smaller addition to an existing roof.” Meaning, that if you already have a flat main roof, you may opt for an extra skillion roof to create a multi-level illusion on your roof.
Think of a gable roof, but lower or raise either of the two roof planes. Now you have two skillion roof planes, instead of just one whole roof.
This is what makes it one of the most popular choices of roof types for modern Australian houses.
It’s sleek and aesthetically pleasing
It’s easier and cheaper to install because it usually needs just a single roof plane
Skillion roofs are the best roof for solar panels
It has the clean and modern appearance of a flat roof, but the water runoff efficiency of a gable roof
It’s not the best roof type if you want an attic in your home
It’s more sensitive to strong winds compared to other types
4. Hip roof
This type is very similar to a gable roof, but not quite. The difference is that instead of just two roof planes, hip roofs have at least three or four roof sides that connect at a single point called the ridge.
It’s also one of the most popular roof type choices, especially in houses located near coastal areas because of its high resistance to strong winds. It’s also a great all-rounder for a roof as it can withstand all kinds of climates. It’s no wonder why it’s also one of the most popular roof types in Australia.
It gives your house overall protection against various weather conditions
It also offers great shade around the house
High-efficiency water runoff
It can be incredibly difficult to maintain this type of roof
With all the materials needed to cover the roof surface, it’s a lot more expensive than a gable roof
5. Curved roof
Now we’re throwing a curveball here. Let’s give the traditional roof types a break and focus on the more unpopular roof type in Australia.
While curved roofs are not that common, they’re pretty recognizable. Its curved and rounded appearance makes it a real head-turner. You’ll find this type of roof mostly in coastal or beach areas.
If you love your house to look edgy and different, going for a curved roof will certainly do the trick. Here are more reasons why you’ll love it:
It’s unique and aesthetically pleasing
Best for younger homeowners (it’s definitely an acquired taste)
This roof type has thicker base metals under them so they’re pretty sturdy
Can withstand strong winds
Just by the looks of it, you’ll know right away that it’s on the pricey spectrum
Because of its curved shape, maintaining or repairing it can be really challenging
It’s also harder to install because it has a little more complex structure than traditional ones
Regular inspection, maybe once every few months, is required to keep it in great condition
6. Butterfly roofs
When it comes to complex and expensive roofs, butterfly roofs are certainly in the conversation. It’s this v-shaped roof or an inverted version of a traditional roof that you will see in modern houses today.
This type of roof is a combo of two skillion roofs placed next to each other, forming a structure that resembles a pair of spread-out butterfly wings, hence the name.
These two roof planes can have different slope angles, depending on the style that you’re going for. As long as right in the middle of the two roof planes, there is a box gutter that collects the rainwater, eliminating the need for traditional rain gutters and downspout systems.
Check out its pros and cons to see if it’s right up your alley.
It allows easy and efficient rainwater collection or runoff
Despite being named after the butterfly’s wingspan, it won’t fly off the house during storms
The aerodynamic design provides stability and great resistance to heavy rains and strong winds
Needs fewer repairs compared to traditional roofs
Who doesn’t love a total head-turner?
It may need fewer repairs, but it certainly needs a more frequent maintenance
And maintaining butterfly roofs can be extremely difficult and costly as well
Because it’s a complex piece of architecture, it’s harder and more expensive to install
Not the best option for houses in snowy locations and the weight of the snow can eventually cause the collapse of the roof.
Other Common Australian Roof Types
A bonnet roof has two sides doing a gentle or sudden slope. This type is most common in houses that have a porch area, with the slopes covering that portion.
Pretty straightforward: it is a roof in the shape of a pyramid. This type is usually used in smaller houses or put on peripheral units like garages and sheds.
Green roofs are basically flat roofs with vegetation. They are either fully or partially covered with plant life that can absorb rainwater, provide insulation to your house and help lower the air temperature in your area.
Where to get quality roof installation in Sydney
If you’re building or renovating your dream house in Sydney and you need a new roof, our team of roofing experts are the best team for the job.
Roofline has been installing, repairing, and maintaining roofs in Sydney for 20 years, so you could say that we know what we’re doing and we’re great at it. With years of experience in our bag, we can help you with any roofing work you may need.
Meet Aaron – he is the owner, operator and all-round roofing specialist at Roofline. Having been working on the roofs of Sydney homes and buildings for more than 30 years, he knows a thing or two about how to take care of a roof and he’s here to share his knowledge.
Want more information? Get in touch with Aaron here