What is a Cottage Roof?

The cottage or cabin - a small home - generally has a simple roof style. Hip (or hipped), gable, mansard, shed, and gambrel are common forms for cottage roofs.

Style, construction cost, space requirements, and design standards may all contribute to the shape of the roof of a small home (typically referred to as a cabin or cottage). However, a cottage generally has a relatively simple roof in one of five types.

Shed, Lean-to and Flat Roof

The shed roof is the simplest style, consisting of a single sloping plane with no hips, valleys, or ridges. On a cottage with this type of roof the high wall, often facing south, may contain clerestory windows for illumination. A shed (single-slope) roof is probably lowest in construction cost and time.

If the pitch (slope) of the roof is zero degrees, it is a flat roof. Properly made flat roofs are long-lasting, but because they require costly special treatment to shed water, they are not a popular cottage option.

If a lower-pitched roof is attached against the eave of a steeper pitch, or against a wall, it is usually referred to as a lean-to roof. This is a common roof shape for rooms or storage spaces added to existing structure. The article Joy of Cottage Life shows a cottage with a lean-to veranda roof.

Gable Roof

After the shed roof, the gable is the simplest, consisting of two sloped planes meeting at the top or ridge. It's like a folded paper or a tent card. The end walls are extended upwards by two triangles called gable ends. It is relatively economical, especially for shorter spans where a simple rafter can be used (larger homes require trusses).

A steeply pitched gable roof is common in areas with a high snow-load. Such a roof can provide a cottage with second-floor living space, most commonly used as a sleeping loft.

Hip or Hipped Roof: The "Cottage Roof"

Also called a cottage roof, this is your traditional thatched roof. It resembles a gable roof with the end triangles tipped in towards each other with the length of the roof ridge stretched between the points of the triangles. When the ridge length is zero and the points of the triangles meet, this is a pyramid roof.

Mansard Roof

A two-sloped, two-hip version of the cottage or hipped roof, the mansard consists of "slopes on each of its four sides with the lower slope being much steeper, almost a vertical wall, while the upper slope, usually not visible from the ground, is pitched at the minimum needed to shed water," according to an anonymous author at Wikipedia. The mansard, like its derivative the gambrel, provides good living space for the second floor of a cottage.

Gambrel Roof

A cross between mansard and gable, this is a mansard roof with gable ends. The style is widely found on barns and homes in North America, the latter often with dormer windows, gable windows or a balcony on the gable end. The gambrel is popular in cottages because it gives arguably the greatest available space for a second story; for this reason it is a common and economical choice for renovation when a second floor is added.

Cottage Roof

"Cottage roof" is a common name for the hip or hipped roof. However, a cottage or cabin is typically topped with a simple roof shape. For simple single-story cabins, the shed and gable are most common. For a two-story cottage, a steep gable, a mansard, or a gambrel roof may be used.