Pros and Cons of Curved Roofs

Published: Nov. 25, 2018
Example of a home with a curved roof

Curved roofs are a fairly new roof design that focuses on aesthetics more than durability. A curved roof is essentially a roof that has a curved shed-style shape. The style is perfect for those customers that wish to stand out from the crowd. Curved roofs look great on stables, homes, cottages and even garages.

History of Curved Roofs

Far different in appearance from the boxy shaped roofs common on buildings in the 80s, the earliest curved roofs example, the round-roof barn was first seen in the 1920s. The design came from the attempt to maximize the loft space for hay storage. Many barn type roofs have been re-roofed with round roofs or laminated rafters. Most of the round roofs were built during the world war periods. Pre-World War II barns with round roofs are widely distributed across the U.S and are mostly found in the mid-West. Round roofs without supporting side walls were very popular after 1945. Better designed round roofs, with more floor space, were seen in the twenty-first century.

How are Curved Roofs Built?

A curved roof is a lot like a skillion or a shed roof with its planes curved. The curve of the roof can vary. The height of the side walls supporting the roof can also vary from a short extension to a complete sidewall. The eave of the roof often has an entrance door. Curved roofs are typically covered with a green roof or a metal like copper or zinc. Installing a curved roof requires professional experience, specially designed shingles need to be installed carefully by a skilled architect. Curved roofs are sometimes known as Gothic-Roof, Rainbow-Roof or Arched-Roof.

How Long do These Roofs Last?

The wood used for curved roofing is very durable. Different types of wood can be used for curved roof shingles. Cedar is a popular wood used for curved roofs, not only is it economical and appealing but can be very long-lasting if treated properly. Teak wood is an even better choice for curved roofs due to its long-term durability. It offers great resistance to moisture and rot and can be considered a lifetime roofing product. It is ideal to use in areas with fluctuating temperatures due to its low shrinkage ration. While metal generally works well on other types of roofs, it is not the best option for curved roofing. Vertical metal seam panels can be a challenge to use on concave and convex roof surfaces unless they have been hand-formed or curved. Standing seam panels can be used on a curved roof but they have to be tapered. Metal works best in small-sized modular shingles and can easily last the lifetime of the roof.

Advantages of a Curved Roof

  • Modern Visual Appeal:

Curved roofs look spectacular and give an edgy feel to any structure. These roofs are ideal for those homeowners that wish to add a wow-factor to their property.

  • Customizable:

Curved roofs are specially designed by architects and therefore, they can be customized to suit the region where the home will be located.

  • Relatively low Maintenance:

Curved roofs are generally simple and have characteristics much like a standard shed roof. They are wind resistant and low maintenance roofs.

  • Popular With Developers:

Curved roofs are popular with developers due to their ease of construction. The reduced height of the curve is generally favorable for height restrictions and facilitates the planning approval process.

  • Eco-Friendly Solution:

Curved roofs contribute to the reduction of harmful CO2 emissions. In-plane roof lights also prove to be economical and can easily be installed across the roof’s apex.

Drawbacks of a Curved Roof

  • Cost Depends on Design:

The cost of the curved roof will depend on the complexity of the design. Factors to take into account include types of materials used to cover the roof, height of the curve, the area of the roof and much more.

  • Needs to be Designed Carefully:

Curved roofs require the expertise of professional architects or builders. They need to be designed carefully to provide optimum comfort and efficiency. For e.g. ensuring that the curved roof has enough slope for water and snow to easily run off.

Variations of Curved Roofs

Curved roofs can either have uniformly curved surfaces across the span of the roof or small curved elements instead of sharp edges. Some variations of curved roofs include:

  • Old Gothic: A traditional gothic roof that is built in an “s” shape. It has both concaved and convexed curves.
  • Curved Transition: This is a double-pitched roof that can have a curved transition between two of its flat surfaces.
  • Cranked Ridge: A flat panelled roof that has a subtle curve for the ridge of the roof rather than a sharp edge.
  • Bullnose: This roof features a slight curve at the edge of the roof. It creates a fascia that joins with the rest of the roof.
  • 180-Degree Double Vault: This roof features a single, semi-circular shape uniform curve.

Customers can also have customized designs that feature specially designed curves for their roofs.

Price of Curved Roofs

Curved metal roofs are a specialty type of roof and there are very few roofing contractors that have the expertise to install these kinds of roofs. Majority of them are “commercial only” companies. Residential customers can be asked to spend around $2000 per square on a curved roof. Architectural metal shingles work out to be cheaper as they are a flexible option and be customized to the requirements of the customer.