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Are Tiny House Gambrel Roofs Right for You? (Barn Roofs)

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Tiny House Gambrel Roofs Explained

When designing your tiny house, choosing a style of roof can be intimidating.

You want to make sure you make the best choice to keep your tiny home safe and secure while ensuring your roof fits the overall style of your tiny house.

Gambrel roofs, also known as barn roofs, are a great roof style for tiny houses.

A tiny house gambrel roof has a similar design to a gable roof, but it’s designed with four sides rather than two.

Gambrel roofs are typically chosen for and seen installed on garages, barns, and sheds, but they can also make a great choice for residential properties. 

What is the pitch of a tiny house gambrel roof?

The pitch of a tiny house gambrel roof will depend on the specifics of your build, but typically they fall around 7/12, or a rise of 7 inches per foot.

A Gambrel roof will have a deeper pitch than most other roofing types, which is why some people favor it more for their tiny houses.

With a deeper pitch, the amount of usable space you have grows.

You may be able to have an even larger loft space, or more room for storage depending on how deep of a pitch you decide is best for your build. 

How to build a gambrel roof for your tiny house

If you’re planning on building your own tiny house gambrel roof it’s best to have an outline of your project ready before you get started.

Below we offer insight into how to build a gambrel roof for a 10-foot wide tiny house. 

Recommended Tools & Materials: 

  • 24 2X4 rafter board pieces 
  • Measuring tape 
  • Angled measuring device 
  • Circular Saw
  • Electric Screwdriver
  • Extension Ladder
  • Hammer
  • Nails (200)

How to Build:

  1. Each of the rafters will need to be aligned with wall studs, so say you have 6 wall studs you’ll need 6 rafters. 
  2. Measure and cut your boards using an angled measuring device, you may want to have extra wood pieces around in case of any mistakes made during your cutting process. 
  3. Using 4 cut rafter pieces, place them in a U shape. This shape should be the outline of your tiny house’s roof’s pitch. 
  4. Trace and cut plywood joints so that you can connect your rafter pieces to each other. They should be around 15 cm × 30 cm. Make sure to trace the joint so that the angle is the same as the angles on your rafters. 
  5. Using a gusset, create the rest of the joints. If you have 6 rafters, you’ll need a total of 48 gussets for your roof. 
  6. Nail the gussets into the rafters, creating the joints and ensuring your rafters stay connected. We suggest using about 10 nails per gusset. 
  7. Repeat this construction process for the remaining rafters
  8. With at least 2 to 3 people, hoist the rafter onto your roof. Having one person inside the tiny house and one on the outside helps ensure easier installation. 
  9. Screw your rafters into the wall using a metal joint plate between the rafter and the top of your tiny house’s wall. At the end of this process, you should have a joint plate installed at every intersection of your rafters and your tiny house’s walls. If you have trouble keeping your rafters in place, you can always install braces on either side of your rafters. We suggest these brace boards be 5.1 cm × 10.2 cm.
  10. Now you can measure your plywood or other roofing material to start installing the roof’s sheathing.  Start with the corner tops and move inward, using nails to secure the material onto the rafters. Continue this process until your roof is completely covered insheathing. 
  11. All that’s left is your roof finishing. Decide what material works best for your tiny house and gambrel roof and go from there.

Pros of gambrel roof for tiny houses 

Gambrel roofs offer many benefits when installed on a tiny house.

One of the biggest is the lofting space available to you when you choose a tiny house gambrel roof.

Due to the structural makeup of gambrel roofs, they don’t need the same number of columns and support beams leaving plenty of space for you to create a lofted getaway in your tiny house.

Tiny house gambrel roofs also provide excellent drainage, and the steeper the slope of the roof the better.

Unlike flat roofs for tiny homes, the water will slosh right off the sides of the roof rather than pool up on flat areas or crevices, your tiny house is less susceptible to leakage or water damage. 

Cons of gambrel roof for tiny houses

While there are many pros to installing a gambrel roof, there are a few cons to be aware of as well.

For instance, it may not be the best idea to install a tiny house gambrel roof if you live in an area with high amounts of snow accumulation.

Gambrel roofs do not shed snow the same way as rain.

This means if there were to be heavy snowfall in your area, there would be the possibility of your roof collapsing due to the weight.

Unless you have a system of removing snow from your roof or would be willing to invest in doing so, we wouldn’t recommend installing a gambrel roof on your tiny house.

These roofs are also more susceptible to wind damage than other roofing options. 

It’s actually not uncommon for gambrel roofs to be lifted off completely in areas with high wind. If you live in an area susceptible to tornadoes, hurricanes, or constant wind storms, it’s not recommended to go with a gambrel roof.

They also have a harder time with tiny house roof ventilation than others.

Since a gambrel roof pitch allows you to use more space, you’ll have less roof insulation space available to your tiny house which can create problems.

Adding ventilation fans is a good way to counteract this, but if you live in a humid climate it may not be the best option available for your tiny house. 

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