There are many different types of shed roof designs that can be built, some are easy and others are more technical to construct. You also want a roof design that’s going to be practical for your situation. It needs to direct water away quickly and you may want to use the space inside the attic for additional storage.
The roof can make your shed standout, so choosing the right roof can be important especially if you’re looking to accent your home or add value to it. Also consider the surroundings of your yard and the landscape, in some cases you may want to match the type of roof that your house has on your shed.
Need some shed roof design ideas? Take a walk or go for a drive around different areas in your city and check out the various types of shed roofs. This will help you decide on what type of shed roof you want for your shed.
Most shed roof s are simple and easy to build, keeping it simple will also keep the cost down and make it practical, unless you’re looking for a roof that will match your homes roof.
In this article I’m going to look at the 7 most popular shed roof designs that will be practical and not complicated to build. I’m also going to go over the advantages and disadvantages of each. At the end I will look at 5 things that will affect your decision.
The 7 Most Popular & Practical Shed Roof Designs
Number 1] The Gable Roof… This is a very popular choice of roof; it basically is 2 slopping roofs that meet in the center. Creates an attractive roof line and can be finished with a wide variety of roofing finishes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gable Roof
– Simple and easy to construct and allows all the walls to be the same height.
– Can have overhang which helps keep water from entering the walls.
– Overhang allows for good ventilation.
– Provides storage in attic space, and depending on the slope of the roof the storage space can vary. You can also add exterior access doors for access to attic storage from the outside, very useful for seasonal items. I use part of my attic to store ladders and long tools; this keeps them out of the way and easy to access from outside attic door.
– The gable roof sheds water and snow well if you use a 4/12 pitch or steeper roof. I like the fact that with a 24 inch overhang the water that it sheds is away from the foundation and if your ground is sloped away from the shed you don’t have to worry about water getting under your shed.
– Easy to construct, you can build it yourself or you can order trusses.
– Strong winds can lift the roof so the use of hurricane ties is recommended.
– Not using a steep enough sloped roof can cause water leaks especially from ice and snow.
– Because the gable roof has 2 slopes it will shed water on 2 sides.
Number 2] Low Pitch Slanted Roof… Another common choice that is used to keep the roof profile from obstructing a view. Some neighborhoods may not allow for a tall shed roof that may be against the local bylaws, but the low pitch roof may be acceptable.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Low Pitch Slanted Roof
– Much easier to construct and easier to work on.
– Less costly to build.
– Great choice for a beginner.
– Water runs off on one side which is usually the back wall.
– You can extend the roof past the walls to create an overhang. I like to let the back wall overhang 6 inches and the front overhang 2 to 3 feet to provide shelter to the front entrance door.
I recommend a slope of at least 3/12 but 4/12 would be better to allow for better draining. If you’re going to be extending the front overhang I recommend you use 2×8 joists for added strength. Get more information on a slant shed roof in my article 5 Advantages of a Slant Roof Shed.
– Will require different wall height. You can build the front wall higher so it creates the slope needed or you can built the walls the same height and then add a short pony wall to the wall that needs to be higher.
– If you’re planning on insulating the sheds roof you’re going to have to strap the top of the joists to allow for air ventilation to prevent condensation and mold from occurring.
– Doesn’t offer and usable space in the attic as compared to other types of roofs.
– Can be a problem with ice dams from snow sitting on the roof.
– Does require more upkeep then a steeper pitched roof.
Number 3] Gambrel Roof… Also known as the barn style roof, you’ll see that many barns are constructed with a gambrel roof. It has 2 sides with 2 different angels on both sides. Does require several angle cuts and the use of reinforcing gussets which can be made from ¾ inch plywood on both sides to make the rafter joints very strong.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gambrel Roof
– The main advantage of the gambrel roof is it provides lots of interior space and can be used as a loft. It maximizes head room and by adding a second floor really increases the storage space inside the shed.
– Water and snow are easily drained off.
– You can add windows to the upper walls to allow much more natural lighting into the shed.
– Can add venting into the gable ends to increase air circulation.
– More difficult to construct.
– Harder to insulate and to provide roof venting if insulated.
– Areas that have higher winds may cause damage and will require proper bracing.
– Height restrictions may limit the use of a gambrel roof especially if you’re going to be adding a loft. There are some interesting facts and history with the gambrel roof and you can see all the facts and history if you’re interested in learning more about the gambrel roof here on Wikipedia.
Number 4] Hip Roof… Some of the nicest shed roof designs are made with a hip roof. While the hip roof has some harder rafters to cut, being the hip and jack rafters. The hip roof creates a level roof line that goes around the whole building.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Hip Roof
– The hip roof is the strongest roof design because the rafters anchor to all 4 walls and the hips and jacks lock together as well.
– It’s able to handle high winds, much heavier snow loading and having 4 sides it remove water quickly.
– Can have usable storage space inside the roof for extra storage. However unlike the gable roof the storage space has to be accessed from the inside.
– Does provide soffit venting on all 4 sides.
– Much more difficult to build than a gable, slopped or gambrel roof.
– It’s more costly to construct.
– It has angles to cut which can use more sheeting and roofing materials and will have more waste from cutting the material to fit the angles.
– Will disperse water from all 4 sides, so you’ll need to install a good guttering system to redirect water away from the shed.
– More time is needed to build a hip roof.
– Not a roof that a beginner should tackle without some professional help.
Number 5] Saltbox Roof… This is an interesting roof design that uses 2 roof slopes, but unlike the gable roof which the 2 sides meet in the center the saltbox 2 sides don’t necessarily meet in the center of the building. The salt boxes 2 roofs can meet in a different place creating the unique roof design.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Saltbox Roof
– Not too difficult to construct and be either hand framed or you can order trusses.
– Easy to vent the soffits and the gable ends.
– Repels water and snow well if you have a good slope of at least 4/12.
– Can withstand windy weather better than a regular gable constructed roof.
– With its off center design it can provide more storage space in the attic.
– A good roof for a beginner to build.
– It will cost more to construct than a regular gable roof with equal sides.
– You may need to use extra bracing on the long slope side.
– Areas with high winds can damage roof material so choose the roofing finish that can withstand high winds if you live in a higher wind area.
Number 6] Skillion Roof… Combing the skillion with a low pitched slanted roof is one of my favorite shed roof designs that is very versatile and provides lots of natural lighting and great ceiling height when you need to store materials that are over 8 feet long.
Not that difficult to build and using either 2×8 or 2×10 rafters it can span a good distant and using a 3 ply beam you can add windows in the space above the lower roof to let the sunshine in.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Skillion Roof
– Using a steeper slope allows for more attic storage in the lower roof.
– You can easily have overhangs at both ends by letting the rafters hang over each end.
– Having the higher walls allows for more storage space.
– Excellent choice if you’re going to be making use of solar panels to power a security system.
– A good choice for the beginner.
– Providing ventilation especially if you’re going to be insulating the roof will require some extra strapping to create the air flow.
– You may have to deal with a low wall height if the lower roof has to slope to drain away water. Not usually a big deal. You can set up a work bench or install a shelving unit in the area that is the lowest.
– Can be damaged if used in areas that are subject to high winds.
Number 7] Octagon Roof… This has to be the most eye appealing and difficult roof to build. It is made from 8 sides using hip rafters and shorter jack rafters to complete the structure.
Advantages and Disadvantages of an Octagon Roof
– The octagon roof is strong and can withstand wind and real heavy snow loads.
– Typically the roof is constructed with an overhang that provides shelter from the rain for the walls and windows.
– Certainly a very unique roof that will have your neighbors and friends very jealous.
– Very costly to construct.
– If you need to have air ventilation it will need modifications to the framing to allow for good air flow.
– Not a roof for a beginner to try.
5 Things That Will Affect Your Decision on Roof Choice
The roof of any building is designed to protect the building from the elements and the design can reflex your homes design as well as the setting where you’re going to be placing the shed. You may also want a low slope roof so it doesn’t block out a good view or upset your neighbor.
Number 1] Your Climate Conditions… The climate that you have will be a deciding factor in the type of roof you choose. Heavy snow loads will mean you want a roof that will shed the snow and be strong enough to withstand the weight especially if it’s wet snow. It’s a good idea to remove heavy wet snow from the roof to prevent water and structural damage.
Number 2] What The Roof Slope Is… The roofs slope will determine how quickly it will shed water and if snow will slide off easily. Having the roofing sloping in the correct direction will keep water away from the sheds foundation and it will drain away quickly. The slope will also affect the amount of available storage you’ll have inside the attic.
Number 3] How Complex is The Roof to Build… A low sloped pitched roof is the simplest roof to build and will only require one wall to be higher than the other. A gable roof is a bit more completed to construct and using a minimum slope of 4/12 will give the best results. 4/12 means that for every 12 inches the roof will slope 4 inches.
So an example using a shed that is 8 feet wide would mean 8 times 4 which means the roof would have one wall 32 inches higher than the other if you’re using a slanted roof. If you’re using a gable roof the center height for an 8 foot shed would be half the width of 4 feet times the 4 inch rise would mean the center would be 16 inches high with the gable roof.
Number 4] How Much the Roof Will Cost… The choice of roof type will affect the cost to build the roof. A basic sloped roof or a gable roof will not require a lot of extra material. If you choose a grambrel or octagon style roof the material cost will go up as well as the amount of framing and roofing materials needed to construct the roof.
Number 5] The Type of Roofing Material Used… Basically shed roof designs will be the deciding factor on the type of roof to use and the type of roofing material to use. The cost of each type of material will vary and each has it god and bad points. Depending on the complexity and number of angles and hips the roof as can affect the type of roofing material to use. Below I’m going to go over the main roofing material types. Check out my article What’s the Best Roofing Shingles for a Shed?
The 4 Main Types of Roofing Materials
Number 1] Rolled Roofing… Roll roofing is the basic low slope roofing material used on sheds garages and shops. The standard size is 90 pound roll roofing and the roll is typically 3 feet in wide and approx. 33 feet long for a total square footage of 100.
Rolled roofing is fast as easy to install and is very cost effective and durable, while not athletically pleasing it works well for low slope applications where you don’t see the roofing material. It typically nailed down and uses lap cement under the joints and a good quality roofing tar applied over the nails and the joints.
Depending on where you buy it you can expect to pay around $2.00 to $2.50 per square foot supplied and installed. Its life is about 10 to 12 years depending on the weather conditions. A good choice for someone who wants to do the installation themselves and save some money on labor costs.
Number 2] Asphalt Shingles… These are the used shingle and can be used on any roof type; it’s recommended that the slope be a least 4/12. However there are low slope asphalt shingles that can be used on lower sloping roofs.
Most of the newer types are constructed out of fiberglass, asphalt and fine granules made from minerals which give the shingle the ability to have a life span of 20 to 30 years. Another nice feature is you can get them in a wide variety of colors. With asphalt shingles repairing or replacing a single shingle is possible.
Another advantage of the asphalt shingle is their ability to bend and flex and they will seal in the suns heat. Expect to pay around $1.75 to $3.75 a square foot to have them installed. Easy to install and come with instructions on the package, so is a good choice for a beginner to do.
Number 3] Metal Roofing… Metal roofing comes in sheets up to 36 inches in width are installed length ways and are ordered to fit your roof. Not recommended for roofs that has slopes less than 4/12. Snow slides of metal roofing very easily so I recommend the use of snow stops on the roof above areas that you don’t want snow falling onto.
If you’re living in an area where there’s a higher risk of fires metal roofing won’t burn, many cabins in the woods use metal roofing on the roof and walls to protect the cabin in the event of a wildfire.
Another perk of metal roofs are the many color choices and there maintenance free and you can get matching facia and trims so there’s even less maintenance to perform. Metal roofs can cost around $10 a square foot for colored and the galvanized metal roofing is much cheaper. You can expect a metal roof to last over 50 years.
Number 4] Wood Shingles and Cedar Shakes… Roofs that are finished with wood shingles and wood shakes are very attractive. They are expensive and very time consuming to install and not a good choice if you live in very wet areas or areas that have a risk of forest fires. Both the wood shingles and shakes are made from cedar and sometimes from redwood depending on your location.
The basic difference is wood shingles are thin pieces that are sawn and cut to the correct length, while wood shakes and much thicker and are produced by splitting the wood and give a much more textured look. Wood shingles can cost around $9.00 a square foot to have them installed, while wood shakes can cost around $11.00 a square foot to install.
Depending on the weather conditions these types of roofs can last between 20 to 60 years. In wet conditions 20 years is about the average life of them. You can also get the wood shingles and shakes that are fire resistance treated for an extra cost. Some people use the wood shingles for their exterior finish when can really add the expense of the shed build.
These are the 7 most popular shed roof designs; there are a few other types of roofs which I have not mentioned because they’re not very common or practical for use in a shed application. If you have found this article helpful please give it a share. Thanks for reading.
In this area I will go over the best resources that I have found that you will find very helpful:
Here are my favorite eBooks for beginners as well as those of you who have a lot more experience with home projects.
I know how disappointing it can be to finally find some plans online only to find out after that theirs a lot of essential information missing making these resources useless and a waste of your time!
First is “Ryan’s Shed Plans”… Provides 1,000’s of shed plans, so there’s something for everyone with detailed cross sections and very easy to follow instructions. What I really like is the material and cutting lists which means you know how much material to get.
And if you act soon, you can also get some free books: Advanced Woodworking Tips, List of suppliers to get your materials even cheaper and for you woodworking types you also get 400 free wooding plans. Definitely worth every penny… Check it out here and get your free 8×12 plan just for looking.
Second is “Ted’s Woodworking” … You get thousands of woodworking plans and they come with step-by-step instructions, material and cutting lists, very detailed plans, something for beginners as well as the professional woodworker.
You’ll also get woodworking guides and a detailed book on how to start a woodworking business and how to sell your woodworking projects for profit. See for yourself all the projects you can do and start making impressive pieces right away. Check it out here.
Third is the “Ultimate Small Shop” … This guide walks you thru everything you need to get a small workshop set-up on a budget. Goes into detail what you need to set-up, organizing your space and laying out your work areas, tools list, safety and so much more. Covers everything you need to have a complete shop.
You also get some Free bonus: The workshop cheat list, shows you where to get cheap supplies and tools. You also get a lifetime subscription to the deal alert service and so much more, see it for yourself here.