Gambrel pitch and height

by Josh
(St. Louis)


Hi, i'm building a gambrel roof barn that'll be 30'x50', but i'm having trouble figuring out the pitch and height i want. most of the new designs look too "squatty" compared to the old gambrels in my area. is there a resource for figuring this out? are there traditional dimensions or formulas to guide in laying these things out?

Hi Josh,

Well there are about as many different gambrel roof configurations out there as there are gambrel roofs. There really isn't a standard, however I know exactly what you mean about the squatty appearance of your modern gambrel trusses.

Most of your pre-made trusses that are designed as a gambrel consist of roughly a 20/12 bottom pitch and a 4/12 top pitch. So you have a really steep bottom pitch and a really flat top pitch. This results in that "squatty" appearance.

Now, I am going to give you a design secret that I have discovered free of charge. ;)

The rule of thumb that I use when designing a gambrel is that the top pitch should be no less than half the pitch of the bottom. In other words if you start with a say 14/12 bottom pitch your top pitch should be 7/12 or greater. If at all possible it looks the best at exactly half. The shallower the top pitch the more "squatty" it will look.

My go to pitch combo is usually 14/12 bottom and 7/12 top. A 12/12, 6/12 combo will work, and so will a 16/12, 8/12. On your 30' wide barn that 14/12, 7/12 combo should work well. Wider barns will start to need a shallower pitch if the goal is to limit the height of the barn. The opposite is true with a narrower barn you may need to start going steeper to give enough head room in the loft.

Comments for Gambrel pitch and height

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 30, 2015
Pitch for gambrel roof barn NEW
by: Anonymous

I appreciate your comments about avoiding squatty looking gambrel barns. I want to build a 40 foot wide and 60 foot long gambrel barn. What pitches would you recommend for it? If on other hand I went with a gable roof , what pitch then?

Feb 15, 2017
how about gable roof pitch? NEW
by: Tara

I have often thought the same thing about many of the agricultural buildings I see with gable roofs as well - that the roof pitch looks way too flat. Do you have a range of roof pitch that you think looks best, or a minimum that you don't go below? This would be helpful when designing a barn or other small outbuilding. Thanks!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask the Barn Geek.


How to build the 20x30 sugar Shack for under $12k!  


Recent Articles

  1. Circa 1850 Barn - Flora, IN

    Nov 30, 18 09:53 AM

    Circa 1850’s Barn Timber frame barn, 48’ x 60’ with 10 x 10 hand hewn beams. Hand crafted from Indiana Hardwoods, this 2,880 SF frame is absolutely amazing

    Read More

  2. The Richey Barn (Late 1800's) - Flora, IN

    Nov 30, 18 09:46 AM

    Richey Barn—Late 1800’s Timber frame barn with hand hewn beams, 30’ x 44’. Height to eaves is 13’ and height to the peak from the barn floor is 30’.

    Read More

  3. Old 1850's Barn - Galesburg, IL

    Nov 27, 18 12:21 PM

    This old barn dates back to the 1850's. It is approximately 70' x 35' with 15' tall walls. A little over half of the barn has a 2nd floor/loft. The main

    Read More

  4. 50x70x35 Tennessee Barn for Sale

    Nov 12, 18 07:17 PM

    My father was told by his parents it was built around 1903. It is in good condition. It was built on a cut stone foundation. It has walnut square poles.

    Read More

  5. Two 1800s Timber Frame Barns - Leeds, NY

    Nov 02, 18 03:45 PM

    Two 1800s timber-frame barns, both in excellent condition, clad in aluminum siding since 1967. Both with hand-hewn members of hemlock, pine, oak, and

    Read More

  6. 30x50 Century Old Barn - Branch County MI

    Nov 02, 18 11:43 AM

    Barn needs to be dismantled, good quantity of reclaimable wood,hand hewn beams, 3 inch tongue in groove siding Terms negotiable If interested please email

    Read More

  7. 40x36 1900's barn - La Jose, PA 15753

    Oct 15, 18 12:37 PM

    Court house records back to 1900 and states barn was newly erected, hand hewn, pinned joints never been painted good roofs over the 90 some years of family

    Read More

  8. 1900 barn for sale , Amelia OH

    Oct 02, 18 04:03 PM

    1900 (according to county records) barn for sale for wood. 30 ft by 33 ft with hay loft, tin roof. Wood planks are vertical 1'' thick 12 '' wide about

    Read More

  9. Early 1900s 40x60 Barn - Patomac, IL

    Sep 24, 18 02:25 PM

    Built in 1918 40x60 Primarily oak wood Can provide dumpster if needed. *All the random house siding on barn floor will be removed before buyer comes*

    Read More

  10. 1940 BARN NEAR MONTICELLO NY 12777

    Sep 20, 18 02:24 PM

    Barn was built in 1940. It has a large lower area and an adjacent area that was used for dairy cows. There is a hay loft on either side. Overall building

    Read More

  11. 30X40 Old Barn - Osseo, MI

    Sep 19, 18 07:36 PM

    I have an old barn with a loft and with good wood, 100+ yrs. old for sale, set on the original fieldstone foundation. The barn is 30X40, shingled roof.

    Read More

  12. 22x100 1900's Barn - Napa Valley, California

    Sep 16, 18 07:43 PM

    Built in the 1900's of redwood with tin roof. This dirt floor beauty still stands firm. Painted White on the outside with the wood kept in its natural

    Read More

  13. 128 Year Old 30x50 Barn - Boswell, Pennsylvania

    Sep 16, 18 07:41 PM

    Barn available in Boswell, Pennsylvania. 30 feet wide by 50 feet long. Built in 1890, hand-hewn beams, old wood throughout. Mixed hardwoods, not painted.

    Read More

  14. 180 Year Old Tobacco Barn - Western Kentucky

    Sep 10, 18 10:40 AM

    The first structure was an old tobacco barn, locally referred to as the Beam Barn. This has an inner structure of approximately 24’ x 24’ hand hewn logs

    Read More

  15. Barnwood from 1850's Hemlock Barn

    Sep 05, 18 01:13 PM

    2x10 and 9x10 Hemlock boards from 1850's barn. 29 - 2 x 10 x 22 12 - 2 X 10 X 12 12 - 2 X 10 X 14 9 - 2 X 10 X 16 11 - 2 X 10 X 10 8 - 2 X 10 X 8 9

    Read More