A barndominium is a contemporary take on the traditional American barn. It’s a method of combining the architecture of a traditional agricultural building with the practicalities of living in today’s world.
You can renovate an existing barn, build one from scratch, or use one of the numerous kits supplied by manufacturers.
Furthermore, the construction materials range from wood, metal, or mixed materials. However, the most popular is the steel framed kit with steel siding and a roof using one of the several roof materials available.
You’ll also discover later in this guide that it’s best to build your barndominium to complement the region’s prevalent architecture. Therefore, consider existing buildings’ roof colors and materials.
However, as barndos use traditional rural architecture, you’ll conform to the same materials used in local agricultural buildings. But, you must also comply with local building laws, something that traditional barns never worried about.
Regulations ensure your barndo complements the local architecture and provides a safe and energy-efficient home for you and your family.
So, install roof insulation, choose the right style, and consider the legal and safety aspects, aesthetics, energy efficiency, climate, and costs.
For example, steel roofs may not look as pleasing as shingles or clay tiles and cost more than both. But, steel lasts longer.
Ultimately, the type of roof you choose depends on factors such as budget, the look and feel to complement your barndo, and your environment.
But foremost, you have restrictions imposed by building codes that may specify the correct roof type for the environmental factors prevalent in the area.
Types of Barndo Roofs
The list below shows a quick run-down of some barndominium roof-style options.
- Skillion or Shed
In the following list of roof types, we sourced some images from the First American Roofing & Siding Inc. website.
1. Gable Barndominium Roof
A gable is the triangular portion of the wall that connects the two slopes of a roof:
Open gables are the most recognizable style. The roof consists of two sloping surfaces meeting at the highest point (the ridge), with the triangular gable open.
Box gables have two sloping surfaces that meet at a ridge, like open gables. However, the triangular section protrudes slightly from the end wall as it’s boxed.
- Simple to design and build
- Complements most house types
- Affordable, uses minimal materials, and requires simple installation
- The steep pitches readily shed rain or snow.
- More sophisticated design than open gables
- Readily shed rain or snow
- It’s easy to install windows in the boxed section.
- You can install more insulation behind the boxed section if necessary.
- Strong winds can easily lift the entire roof from the barndominium.
- Many homes have open gables. So, it won’t look unique if that’s your purpose.
- Like open gables, high winds easily damage this type.
- These can look bulky and clumsy depending on the barndo’s overall design.
2. Mansard Barndominium Roof
A Mansard roof has four pitches using hips to join each slope.
It’s a good choice if you want to maximize living space, as many barndominium owners fit an entire floor inside a mansard roof.
- Makes full use of the attics as living space
- Easily add large windows if required
- Beautiful design
- Complex design
- Expensive to install
- High maintenance
- Few contractors know how to build this rare roof design.
- The shallow angle slope can accumulate snow, causing leaks and eventual collapse.
- The windows installed in the lower slopes are difficult to seal properly.
3. Bonnet Roof
Bonnet roofs have four sides, each with a steep upper pitch and a shallow lower pitch.
These are useful if you want a wrap-around porch.
- Protects against strong winds
- Creates more room inside by incorporating the outside porch area into the living space
- Easy to install and maintain gutters
- Protects the doors and windows from sun and rain
- Can be expensive to design and install
- Some people regard this roof as outdated. But, it may work well with a barndominium.
4. Gambrel Barndominium Roof
This design is what many people regard as a typical barn roof. Therefore, it should perfectly complement your barndominium.
The design has extra space in the roof and a shallow-pitched slope at the top, with a steeper-pitched slope running down the side of the structure.
- Has a classic and rural appearance
- Easily installed
- Cost-effective installation
- Ample attic space to use as upper-floor living area.
- Easy to use various roof materials in the design
- Easily add windows to the roof
- Often has ventilation issues
- Easily damaged by wind
- Snow and rain may accumulate on shallow-pitch slopes.
- Difficult to retrofit. It’s far better to install on a new build.
5. Dormer Barndominium Roof
Dormers project vertically from the main roof slope, producing a window that gives natural light to the attics.
These can be installed into any roof with a large enough pitch angle.
- Provides natural light to roof spaces
- Can be any size
- Provides ventilation to attic space
- May cause leaks when sealing the joint between the roof and the dormer
- Expensive to install
- Expensive maintenance
- Needs experienced roofing contractor for installation. Not DIY friendly.
6. Combination Roof
Combination roofs are common among barndominium owners as they mix and match the best points from various designs to provide a roof that works in individual circumstances.
For example, combining a clerestory roof with a bonnet roof provides rain shedding on walls with two different levels, allows a window in the dividing wall, and provides a weatherproof overhang for a front and rear porch.
Furthermore, combining any roof with a Dormer is also a Combination roof.
- Makes your barndominium unique with plenty of curb appeal.
- Depending on what combinations you choose, you can increase the living space in the barndo’s attics, effectively giving you another floor.
- Living in regions with high precipitation, you can improve the barndo’s rain shed by selecting suitable combination roof types.
- By carefully choosing the roof combination, you can create a custom roof explicitly designed for the environmental conditions at your location.
- A roof type you particularly like may not suit your climate.
- Combining two or more roof types can be expensive to design and very difficult to install.
- Using roofs with many valleys can make the roof prone to rainwater leaks.
7. Flat Roof
Flat roofs aren’t horizontal. But, they must be slightly sloped to shed water. Also, the building codes don’t generally allow them to be horizontal.
In practice, the codes specify a minimum slope for flat roofs depending on the roof material. Here is a helpful article by Jack Gray of roofonline.com explaining roof pitches for different materials.
Generally, when we talk about flat roofs, we mean those using EPDM, rolled asphalt, PVC membrane, metal, or fiberglass as a roof covering. Check with your local building codes for the slope and material used in your area, but 0.25-1 inch in 12 inches is a generally accepted gradient.
Usually, we use flat roofs for industrial buildings, apartment blocks, and sheds, but often, we use them for single-story additions, and they make an ideal surface for rooftop gardens.
- DIY-friendly for installation and simple repairs
- Wears well and resists leaks
- Most efficient flat roofs use a membrane and have a minimal slope.
- Flat roofs using EPDM (a rubber membrane roofing system) reduce the surface temperature by up to 40%.
- Lightweight flat roof material doesn’t need reinforcing and can be installed directly onto roofing boards using adhesive.
- Inexpensive to install
- Preferably use them on buildings without chimneys or HVAC vents, so the unbroken membrane surface isn’t compromised.
- Can be easily punctured by fallen branches, small rocks, and being walked on without protection.
- Try to use the roofing material with very few seams to prevent leaks at these points.
8. Shed or Skillion Barndominium Roof
Skillion roofs have a steep single slope to allow water runoff. They’re also known as lean-to or shed roofs because that’s where you often see them.
However, skillions sometimes have a second slope with a different height and gradient. In that case, they’re called clerestory roofs.
Skillions are affordable and straightforward to construct as they only have one pitch with no awkward hips or valleys. The images above show skillions used as a lean-to and a shed roof.
- A skillion is excellent for shedding rainwater.
- It has a classic and rural design, perfect for a barndominium.
- Needs minimal materials
- We can add dormers or skylights into the design.
- Cheap and easy to design and install
- Adds an exciting and unusual structure to your barndo’s design.
- Has very little or no attic space
- Easily lifted by strong winds, mainly when used as a lean-to roof.
- Doesn’t look attractive and is often impractical on large structures.
- Because of the large surface area and steep slope, this roof needs an effective gutter system to cope with the fast-moving rainwater flow.
9. Hip Barndominium Roof
A hip roof has four pitched slopes with no gables. A hip roof’s distinctive feature is that each slope’s gradient is identical.
The images show the standard hip roof. But, there is a particular case where the walls are the same length, called a pyramid roof.
Hip roofs are typical in French colonial-style homes. But, they also look good on many others, including barndominiums.
- Compared to gable roofs, they are much more stable in high winds because of the four roof pitches.
- The four pitches allow snow to slide off easily.
- More expensive to build than gable roofs
- Needs the expertise to design and build
- Uses more materials than a gable roof
10. Clerestory Roof
We can regard clerestory roofs as two skillion roofs back-to-back joined by a common wall extending above the lower roof pitch.
Typically, many designers place wide windows in this wall space to increase the natural light capture.
- Needs minimal building materials.
- Can be built against an existing wall.
- Appears rural, so complements barndominium architecture.
- Easy to design and install, therefore cheap on materials and labor.
- Inserting a wide window in the wall above the lower roof allows plenty of natural light into the room.
- Gives an exciting addition to your barndo.
- Sheds rainwater well.
- Has minimal attic space.
- Easily lifted by strong winds.
- Don’t use this type of roof on large structures.
- The roof needs a high-volume rainwater gutter system.
11. Monitor Barndominium Roof
A monitor roof is a raised roof section along the main ridge. The long sides contain louvers or clerestory windows to increase the ventilation or natural light.
Typically, agricultural buildings used them. So, they’ll complement your barndominium design.
- Increases ventilation or natural light
- Enhances your barndominium design
- Provides additional attic space
- Increases the structure’s energy efficiency
- Difficult to install insulation
- Difficult to regularly maintain due to access issues
- Limited flexibility in roof design
- Expensive to construct
- Easily damaged in regions with high winds
12. A-Frame Roof
An A-frame roof has two steep roof pitches stretching from the ridge downwards almost to the foundation.
Its name comes from the uppercase letter “A” which it resembles. You’ll often see this type of roof on cabins and, increasingly, barndominiums.
They work well in extreme weather, especially in strong winds and heavy snowfall where the steep-angled roof readily sheds snow.
Modern houses with this roof often have one or both gable ends fully or partially glazed to provide picture windows.
- High cooling efficiency, especially in warm and humid climates, as most living space is on or near the first floor.
- Readily sheds rainwater and snow
- Combines well with large picture windows
- Must be well insulated in northern states, or the upper floors can be icy.
- The interior tends to have sloped walls, so it’s difficult to fit standard furniture and fittings.
12 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Roof Style
The previous sections will help you choose the right roof for your barndominium. However, ensure you consult a professional before making the final decision. Otherwise, you may miss something, making your choice impractical.
However, there are other factors you should consider.
1. Roofing Materials
Each roofing material has unique properties relevant to certain roof types.
Some materials may be too expensive, such as metal roofs, which last longer than many but are more expensive. However, as most barndos use steel roofs, you may not have this choice.
Furthermore, some materials like clay tiles are often recommended for hot regions as they reflect sunlight, keeping your home’s interior cool.
Ultimately, your choices will considerably reduce when you consider the various limiting factors, such as the building codes’ requirements, budget, appearance, and environment.
You’ll also find that some roof coverings don’t look right with the rest of your barndominium. That’s a personal choice, but you should still take professional advice to make an informed decision.
Typical roof materials include:
- Asphalt shingles
- Metal roofing
- Clay tiles
- Concrete tiles
- Wood shingles
Assess your shortlist for each material’s typical lifespan in your climate zone’s usual weather.
Some materials can last decades, while others need regular maintenance.
Maintenance and Longevity
Research the typical maintenance requirements of each roofing material. These include:
- Regular inspections may be monthly, annually, or somewhere in between.
- Cleaning requirements
- Chemical treatments
- Consider repairs for wear-and-tear and extreme weather damage.
The most common roof repairs involve fixing leaks caused by:
- Issues with roofing materials
- Damaged tiles or lead flashing
- Debris and blocked gutters
Generally, metal roofs need less maintenance than other materials but cost more upfront. In contrast, shingles are cheap but require more maintenance and replacements over the years.
Similarly, metal roofs can last up to 50 years and more, while asphalt shingles are flimsy and damage easily, lasting no more than 20 years.
3. Costs and Budget Constraints
Look at the upfront cost of your chosen roof. Then, decide on its long-term value and your barndominium’s potential resale value. If you can, calculate the regular maintenance costs over the years.
Take time to research the different roof materials’ grades, as quality materials often have a longer lifespan and withstand environmental effects better than budget materials.
Furthermore, do the materials and labor have a manufacturer or contractor guarantee or warranty? If so, how much is this worth?
However, even though an extended warranty can cover future repair costs, ask yourself whether the contractor or manufacturer will still be trading. And, can you keep to the terms of the warranty over that length of time?
Research the sustainability of the chosen material. Include in this assessment the following:
- The material’s sustainability
- Ease of recycling
- Environmental impact at the manufacturing stage
- Ecological impact at end-of-life if it’s not recyclable
5. Climate and Weather Considerations
Some roof materials, shapes, and pitches aren’t suitable for some types of weather.
For example, a low-pitched gable roof isn’t strong enough to withstand extreme winds. So, if you have hurricanes or tornadoes, choose a roof able to withstand these. And don’t forget the rainfall and snow typical in some areas.
If this sounds like you, consider using suitable roof coverings. Furthermore, some roof shapes can withstand wind and snow more readily than others.
Before choosing a roof shape and material, look around other local structures to see the typical roof. Also, consult the building codes, as you’ll find that local government experts have already banned specific roof types as being unsuitable.
Other Climate Considerations
Understand your region’s climate. Generally, are your summers hot and winters freezing, or are they less extreme? Do you need lots of ventilation and suitable heat-reflecting materials?
Are the rainfall and snow extreme? If so, choose a roof that readily sheds rain or snow.
Furthermore, houses along coastal regions need salt-air-resistant roof coverings. Also, severe hailstorm areas need high-impact resistant roof materials.
6. Aesthetics and Personal Preferences
Your roof’s appearance should be high on the list of factors. For example, slate tiles make a property look elegant. However, they don’t usually enhance a barndo’s rural appeal.
Moreover, blend the roof with its surroundings and complement your barndo’s exterior.
When choosing a roof covering, consider its color. Not only will this complement the architecture. But, it also helps with energy efficiency.
Choose harmonious colors with curb appeal, enhance your architecture, and appeal to the neighbors.
7. Functionality and Space Utilization
A roof is one of the most essential parts of any house. As such, it must protect the residents and their belongings.
But, it also serves other purposes. For example, choose a ventilated roof for fresh air that doesn’t allow wind and rain to enter. And the rainfall that sheds from the roof must be diverted safely using adequate rainwater gutters.
Furthermore, every household needs storage for those items used once or twice a year, such as holiday season decorations, vacation suitcases, etc.
Therefore, add an attic space into the overall roof design, with enough room for adequate thermal insulation to comply with the building codes.
8. Building Codes and Zoning Regulations
Building codes ensure your home is safe. So, look in the relevant code for the approved roof type and materials.
Local government experts have compiled this information. So, if they say not to use a particular roof style, there’s a good reason.
For example, houses in hurricane-prone areas usually have steeply pitched roofs that shed debris, rain, and wind more readily than other styles.
Zoning regulations ensure your home complements the neighborhood. Therefore, if your barndo has a steeply pitched complex roof style, it may not look good next to a house with a flat roof and a simple design. Keep within the range of existing house designs if possible.
Ultimately, aesthetics are subjective. What one person appreciates may not appeal to someone else, but you can compromise. And, considering the other person’s point of view is always worthwhile.
Finally, check with the local planning department and homeowners association for any restrictive covenants imposed on roof design by developers or zoning boards, as failure to comply could mean a hefty fine.
9. Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
Everyone wants lower energy costs. So, choose a heat-reflective roofing material if you live in a hot region.
In contrast, go for a heat-absorbing material in a colder region. And don’t forget to add adequate insulation under the roof as specified by the building codes, thus, relieving stress on your HVAC system and reducing energy usage.
To help you along, the federal government publishes guidelines on insulation and your climate region. You can find it on the EnergyStar website.
10. Local Architectural Influence
We all know steeply pitched roofs have high angles, whereas shallow pitches have low ones. And steep pitches are better at shedding snow and rain than shallow-pitched roofs.
They both have pros and cons, and it’s best to compromise between the two and incorporate their function, appearance, and price.
Always be guided by the local roof custom when choosing the correct compromise. The area’s architectural considerations include the appearance of the building in general and how each component interacts with the others.
You’ll find that most areas choose a roof style, which the neighborhood regards as acceptable. Therefore, to fit in with the local scene, find out what architectural norms are.
Research the local building customs to find a roof shape that blends in with the other homes in the area. You may already be on a losing streak by choosing to build a barndominium in a county where they’re almost unheard of.
So, you don’t want to lose credibility or support by selecting an “outlandish” roof style, too.
The best standard to go by is whether your roof is compatible with the others in the area. Your roof should look harmonious and be cohesive with the rest of the structure.
Consider the following steps to ensure architectural compatibility:
- Analyze your home’s architecture. Is it modern or traditional, and does it have features of a specific era such as Victorian, colonial, Mediterranean, or Civil War? This should point to the correct roof style.
- Research the popular roofing styles that go with your architecture. This will also help decide the correct materials.
- Consult an architect. Speaking to an architectural expert provides valuable insight into how the various styles interact and provides an understanding of the materials. The architect will also know helpful information about regulations, codes, and how your barndo complies.
- Consider how to make your home’s architecture harmonious. The aim is to end up with a pleasing and balanced composition, allowing your roof to complement your barndo and the other nearby structures.
11. Natural Light and Ventilation
Natural ventilation helps to keep your barndo comfortable all year round. Using ventilation wisely will help protect your home from damage caused by extremely high or low temperatures, humidity, condensation, and the fungal rot that comes with it.
Have plenty of vents, louvers, and opening windows to use the natural air currents. Remember that some roof materials need ventilation systems to operate correctly, so consult an architect or a local roofing professional.
12. Future Expansion Plans
Sometimes, people build their barndominium intending to live in a completed structure for a few years before expanding their home when they’ve saved more funds and their family has grown.
In this case, design the roof with additional structures and roofs in mind. How will they attach to the existing structure? How will the new roof complement the current features? And how will you access the new roof for maintenance?
Therefore, when designing your roof, remember that you may extend it. So, plan accordingly.
Correctly choosing your barndominium roof options will impact its appearance, short and long-term value, and functionality. This guide may help construct a roof that complements your building’s architecture and produces an aesthetically pleasing barndo you’ll be proud of.
Also, you’ll be confident your design complies with the local construction laws and creates a home to suit your family’s lifestyle.
Analyze each aspect of the project, and don’t be afraid to consult those who know more about the local architectural customs than you do.
By carefully researching all the factors mentioned, you’ll produce a roof that enhances the beauty and character of your home, so you’ll be proud of what you’ve done and all the hard work you’ve put into it.
=> Looking for a custom Barndominium floor plan? Click here to fill out our form, a member of our team will be in touch.