Is a hipped roof stronger

Different roof shapes: these are the advantages and disadvantages

Nothing shapes the look of a house more decisively than the choice of the roof. Should it be flat or steep? Or should it even have a traditional shape like the hipped roof? Experts give tips.

Steep or flat roofs are not just a question of taste, but also of the living space. Since attic floors should be fully usable today, many builders have recently preferred a flat roof. But there are other alternatives. Here is an overview of the common roof shapes:

The flat roof: terrace, garden and dome light

Mainly used in bungalows in the 1960s and 1970s, a flat roof with its low, barely visible roof pitch can now be found on all types of buildings. "Flat roofs are now being built with a gradient of at least two percent so that rainwater is always led to the drains," explains Erich Pössl from the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Architects. Because standing water used to be a disadvantage of flat roofs.

The sealing still has to be carried out very carefully, although the materials have become better according to architect Pössl. They rely on bitumen and plastic sheeting as well as liquid waterproofing. Flat roofs have the advantage that the area can be used: as a terrace, garden and dome light, in large buildings as a parking deck. "Buildings can also be executed more easily in complex floor plans, for example in organic shapes," adds Pössl.

Another plus point: "The space below can be used to the full," says Andreas May from the Building Owner Protection Association. That is why the flat roof is so popular in the construction of single and multi-family houses. "In urban areas, flat roofs are also often prescribed by local development plans, while the saddle roof is the defining form in the countryside," adds Pössl.

The gable roof: the popular classic

The best known and widespread roof shape has two sloping roof surfaces that meet at the highest point. The top floor does not have the full room height all around, but it does have reserve space. Storage space can be created in roof niches, says May.

The advantage: According to the expert, an error in the construction of a pitched roof has fewer consequences than one in a flat roof. Because the sloping roof has a second emergency drainage level: "If a roof tile breaks, there is a sarking membrane underneath that allows the water to run off without dampening the entire roof structure," explains May.

The monopitch roof: a weather side and a sunny side

It often only has one sloping roof surface, or a second sloping side begins a little offset: According to Christian Anders from the Central Association of the German Roofing Trade, the pent roof is currently in demand as a modern roof shape. In the past, pent roofs were only used for outbuildings, simple structures, production or storage facilities.

One roof surface is usually oriented towards the weather side (northwest) in order to shield wind, rain and snow. On the sunny side, this roof shape leaves space for large areas of light. "The space under the sloping roof can range from a full height to a low zone, which in turn can be used as storage space," explains May.

The hipped roof: a special shape with tradition

This form is one of the oldest and most representative roof designs, explains the roofing trade. The hipped roof has a sloping roof surface on all four sides and can therefore withstand the wind better - which is why it is particularly popular in northern Germany, for example. In this construction, the roof surface above the gable end is called the hip. A tip: If you want to emphasize the look, you should plan in dormers.

The mansard roof: large habitable attic

With this baroque roof shape, the roof surfaces are bent in the lower area, so that the lower roof surface has a steeper slope than the upper one. This creates additional living space there. "Such a roof construction is more complex than a gable roof, which is why it was intended for the better-earning builders in the past," explains Anders.

The advantage: The shape of the roof enables a better roof extension - to a full floor. Generous and bright rooms are created inside. In addition, skylights or dormer windows can be let in in the lower half.

Which materials are suitable for roof construction?

The material used to cover the roof depends on its inclination. According to the Central Association of the German Roofing Trade, there are more options for steep roofs than for flat ones. An overview of the possibilities:

Material: While bricks are made of clay and fired, roof tiles are made of concrete - a mix of cement, quartz sand and water. Color pigments are added to the mixture and then pressed into the desired shape. "Today, many concrete roof tiles are used in new buildings. This is currently the cheapest building material - and not the worst," explains architect Erich Pössl. A clay brick is lighter, but also a little less resistant.

Colors and style: "Typically, brown, anthracite-colored or red bricks are used. Sometimes blue-glazed bricks are also chosen by the builder - that is a matter of taste," reports May.

Builders and renovators should match the size of the bricks to the roof area. Large-format roof tiles or stones do not look as good on a small roof area. Pössl advises sticking to one type of brick to maintain traditional local cityscapes. "In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, this is the Rhineland pan, in monument preservation it is the classic hollow pans."

In addition: "Due to the lack of building space, houses are now much closer together than in the past. With genteel restraint, one is better advised here," he says.


Green roof: Flat roofs can be greened. This is particularly useful in inner-city areas in order to counteract the overheating of cities, explains Christian Anders from the Central Association of the German Roofing Trade. Plants cool the surrounding air and moisturize it. They also clean the air of dust and pollutants.

Another advantage: Plants that can absorb or release water at different times can temporarily store certain amounts of rainwater on the roof in order to relieve the sewage system.