It’s March 13th, 1993. 

The grocery is picked clean as anxious homeowners stockpile essentials. 

Everyone is hunkered down at home watching the weather report. 

By the end of the day, an estimated 23.6 inches of snow had fallen. And it just kept coming. Snow was falling as fast as 3 inches per hour- and this was only the beginning!

The blizzard continued through March 15th. It cost a total of $5.5 billion in repairs, making it the most expensive winter storm to date. 

Though nothing beats the cost of ‘93’s blizzard…the snowfall record was broken three years later, in the blizzard of ‘96. During this storm, Pennsylvania saw a whopping 30.6 inches of snow!

Car piled under snow

Fast forward to 2021. In Schuylkill County, temperatures are starting to drop. This week, we’re seeing weather as cold as the 30’s. Next week, we’ll be down in the 20s.

Although we’re weeks away from a white Christmas, winter is making itself known. That means ice and snow are heading our way.

I can’t help but wonder how many homes would’ve been saved in ‘93 with the right prevention. During that blizzard, hundreds of families were displaced as homes were destroyed, and roofs collapsed. 

We’re lucky. After storms like 93’ and 96’, we know so much more about how to keep a residence safe from winter weather. But it starts with preparation…and that means thinking about it now. 

In previous articles, we’ve covered the best materials for home protection. Today, we’re going to look at the best roof styles to combat Pennsylvania’s weather. 

Let’s start by looking at the two best styles for winter protection. 

Gable Roofs: Defense Against Ice Dams

Think back to the little green roof pieces in your childhood Lincoln Log set. That triangle shaped base, resting atop your log house? The style is called a gable roof. 

When my daughter draws a house it always has a gable roof. What can we say? It’s a classic! In fact, this popular style has been around since the Roman empire!

There’s a good reason for it, too: Gable roofs are durable and versatile. A gable roof is just an architectural roof style. That means you can cover it with any material you’d like.  You can use any standard roofing material for a gabled roof- from America’s favorite asphalt shingles:

Gable Asphalt Shingles

To your durable contender, the metal roof:

Gable Metal

The gabled roof’s versatility isn’t even the most impressive reason this style has stayed for centuries. The real reason we love this roof is for its ventilation.

Let’s take a quick look at how it’s design specifically helps Pennsylvania homeowners. 

Gable roofs are installed with matching vents. These vents are located at both sides of the roof, installed under the roof’s eaves. 

Here’s what that looks like: 

Gable Roof and Vent

Remember stack ventilation? Gable vents invented this ventilation system. Literally! 

The vents work almost like windows- one allowing cool air in, while the other pushes hot air out. This system regulates your attic temperature, lowering energy bills and protecting your roof from ice dams. 

With a regulated roof temperature, ice melts and drains properly instead of freezing over and creating a weight/leak risk. Pennsylvania homeowners can rest easy knowing their roof is protected against the biggest winter roof danger. 

Hip Roofs: Best Against High Winds

Hip Roof Style

Next up in the gable family is the hip roof- also known as the box gable.

While a gable roof slopes down on two sides, a hip roof slopes on all four.

Here’s what this roof style looks like:

Hip vs Gable Style

Which leaves you to ask- can you really improve on a classic? Why add more sides if gabled roofs have been keeping families safe for hundreds of years?

Here’s the answer: Hip roofs offer more durability in high winds. 

In 2007, the New Jersey Institute of Technology performed a study on the best roof for high winds. The research shows roofs with four or more slopes perform the best in high wind areas. 

Not only does this “new” and improved roof style offer all the benefits of the classic gable roof, it gives a home additional support in the worst weather conditions. Wind resistance and ice dam protection? Yes please! 

The only downside to this style is cost and loss of space. This roof requires more materials and is more complex to build, which increases both the material and labor costs.

You also lose out on attic space due to the sloping on each side. For some, this is a minor setback. But if you count on your attic for additional living space? A hip style roof isn’t the right choice for you. 

The good news? 

Standard gable or hip, when you work with our team, you’re promised a roof designed to last. Choosing the right style is a personal decision, but here at Martin, we’re here to help your home weather any storm?

Need More Space? Consider Dormers

On a side note: What if you already have a hip roof…and you’d like a little extra attic space? 

Consider adding a dormer during your next roofing upgrade! A dormer is a buildout from your roof. The name might not be familiar but odds are you’ve seen the style countless times without realizing it. 

Here’s what a dormer looks like on a standard gable roof: 

Dormer on Roof

Notice the windows extending from the roof? Those are dormers! 

Each dormer can increase floor space by up to 250sqft. That means you can enjoy the benefits of a hip roof without compromising floorspace. 

It’s a great addition, but not every home is a candidate for them. 

The best way to determine if your home is the right fit for this upgrade is to have a skilled contractor take a look. An expert will: 

    • Check the architectural integrity of your existing roof. 
    • Determine the scale of your roof and if there’s room for a dormer.
    • Know what permits are necessary for the new build. 

In most cases, the best time to add a new dormer is when installing a new roof. If you’re making the switch to a gable or hip roof, make sure to ask your contractor about your dormer options. 

Come Wind or High Storm

The odds of us experiencing another blizzard like in ‘96 are low. 

But even without the 30 inches of snow? Pennsylvania winters are known for being harsh. There’s no way to predict what this winter will look like but you can prepare!

That’s why we placed such a high priority on the strength and durability of the product we install. Our client’s favorite asphalt shingle installations are 100% American made, manufactured by GAF for our roofing material right here in PA. Plus, we work with one of the best in-house architects and never cut corners by reshingling or “fixing” roof problems with deicing cables. 

You want a home you know will keep your family safe, and we’re happy to guarantee it. 

If you’d like to talk more about your roof’s protection, give us a call at 570-345-0436 to start the conversation. 

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