Most log homes, as well as conventional homes in the United States, are built with a gabled roof. While the gable roof is simple, it does have a number of drawbacks like a lack of usable space under the roof. In contrast, the gambrel roof is a unique style of roof that addresses many of the issues with gable roofs.
It is unclear how the gambrel roof arrived in North America, but we do know that examples of the form were common by the late 17th century. Many believe the roof was brought here by Dutch traders and it is used extensively in Dutch colonial architecture. The gambrel consists of two roof slopes, where the upper slope has a shallow angle and the lower slope has a very steep angle. This design gives you a large amount of headroom under the roof while still allowing for a relatively short roof.
Like a gable roof, the gambrel can be presented either end-on or side-on. The side-on style is more common in log homes, especially those conforming to a farmhouse plan. Since the gambrel roof is so spacious inside, dormers are not needed to provide living space on the upper floor. Instead, dormers are used primarily to provide accommodations for windows to provide light and ventilation to the upper floor.
Despite the gambrel’s complicated appearance, it is actually not a particularly complicated roof design. Traditionally, only two roof beams joined by horizontal members were used in the gambrel roof. This means that a gambrel roof is very efficient in material used, especially for the room it provides. In the past, gambrels had structural issues that prevented them from being used in areas with high winds or heavy snowfall. However, modern design and construction methods mean that gambrels can be quite strong, as you can see from our gambrel log homes found from Montana to New England.
Of course, the gambrel style is very visually distinctive and will not appeal to every one’s taste. While we have concentrated on the outside appearance, the design does also affect the inside of the log home. On the first floor, you will not notice a difference from other log homes unless you are in a high-ceilinged space like a cathedral-ceiling great room. On the second floor, however, you will notice the sloped walls formed by the roof. This does make arranging furniture more involved than in a room with vertical walls.
We at Real Log Homes would be honored to build the perfect log home for you, whether or not the gambrel roof is a style for you. To get started on your home design, please contact us today.