Traditional Saltbox Roof Style
The saltbox roof is one of the oldest roof styles used in home construction in the United States. The saltbox roof is part of a traditional architectural home design in New England that dates back to the Colonial era.
The History of the Saltbox Roof
The saltbox roof is a gable roof that was originally developed as a way to add usable living space to a single-family home. Typically a small one-story shed would be built at the rear of the two-story home as an addition. Although it was common practice to change the roof line over the extension to allow for more usable internal space, in some cases the original roof line would merely be extended. In either case, the resulting home has an asymmetrical appearance with the roof being higher at the front of the house then in the back.
Advantages of the Saltbox Roof
- Appearance. The distinctive asymmetrical lines of the saltbox roof add visual interest to the home. A home with a saltbox roof has a traditional look unlike any other roof style.
- Ease of construction. This is a traditional advantage of the saltbox design. The new roof can be built off of the existing roof structure in a logical progression. The biggest decision is whether the existing roof slope needs to be modified at the join or if it can be continued at the same angle.
- Weather resistance. The saltbox roof sheds water well. Because the pitch of most saltbox roofs makes it difficult for standing water to collect, leaky roofs tend to be less of a problem.
- Energy savings. Saltbox roofs are typically easy to insulate. This reduces thermal transfer and can help lower heating and cooling bills.
Disadvantages of the Saltbox Roof
- Appearance. The unique look of the saltbox roof is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. While many people find the saltbox roof style attractive, other people can't get over the asymmetric apperance. This is especially noticeable when the home is viewed from the side. The distinctive saltbox style also tends to fit in better in areas with other older homes that have complementary architectural styles.
- Reduced attic space. The saltbox roof does not provide as much usable attic space as other roof styles. This can be somewhat mitigated if the original roof line is changed at the join point to allow more space over the addition.
Only you can decide whether the saltbox roof is right for your home.
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