Waterproofing for Gambrel Roofs

Waterproofing for Gambrel Roofs

Gambrel roofs, also known as barn roofs, are a popular architectural choice for homeowners. Their distinctive shape not only adds character to a building but also provides extra space in the form of a loft. However, one of the challenges with gambrel roofs is their susceptibility to leaks and water damage. In this article, we will explore different waterproofing solutions for gambrel roofs, ensuring the integrity and longevity of these unique structures.

Waterproofing for Gambrel Roofs
Waterproofing for Gambrel Roofs 1

Understanding Gambrel Roofs

Before delving into waterproofing solutions, let’s first understand what makes gambrel roofs unique. Gambrel roofs have two distinct slopes on each side, with the lower slope being steeper than the upper slope. This unique design provides additional headroom in the attic or loft space, making it ideal for storage or as an additional living area.

However, the multiple angles in a gambrel roof make it more prone to leaks, especially if not properly waterproofed. Rainwater can easily penetrate through the joints, valleys, and transitions between the different roof sections, causing damage to the interior of the building if left unaddressed.

Common Causes of Gambrel Roof Leaks

Gambrel roof leaks can stem from various factors. It is essential to identify the cause before applying waterproofing solutions to ensure effective protection. Some common causes of leaks in gambrel roofs include:

  1. Aging or deteriorating roofing materials
  2. Incorrect installation or flashing
  3. Cracked or aging sealants
  4. Poor ventilation leading to condensation buildup
  5. Ice dams forming in colder climates
  6. Debris accumulated in valleys or gutters

Understanding the root cause of the leak will help homeowners identify the most suitable waterproofing approach to adopt.

Waterproofing Solutions for Gambrel Roofs

Now that we understand the vulnerabilities and causes of leaks in gambrel roofs, let’s explore some effective waterproofing solutions:

1. Regular Roof Inspection and Maintenance

Prevention is always better than cure, and this applies to ensuring a leak-free gambrel roof. Regular inspection of the roof, gutter, and flashing is essential to identify and address issues before they become major problems. Here are some maintenance activities to consider:

  • Clearing debris from valleys, gutters, and downspouts
  • Checking for cracked or missing shingles or tiles
  • Examining the condition of flashing and sealants
  • Inspecting the attic for signs of leaks, such as water stains or mildew

Scheduled maintenance will help homeowners catch potential issues early on, saving them from costly Repairs in the future.

2. Installing an Effective Underlayment

The underlayment is a crucial layer that provides an additional barrier against moisture. Traditional options, such as asphalt-saturated felt, can work well for gambrel roofs. However, newer synthetic underlayment materials, such as rubberized asphalt or synthetic hybrid options, offer enhanced durability and protection against leaks.

Properly installing an appropriate underlayment material will minimize the risk of water penetration through the roof’s different sections.

3. Enhancing Flashing and Sealant Techniques

Flashing and sealants play a pivotal role in providing a watertight barrier where different roof sections meet or where the roof intersects with other structures, such as chimneys or skylights. Key areas that require attention include:

  • Valleys: Installing a durable metal or rubberized flashing in valleys will effectively divert water away from vulnerable areas, preventing leaks.
  • Transition areas: Ensuring a seamless connection between the gambrel roof and the connecting structure will minimize the chances of water infiltrating.
  • Vents and pipes: Properly sealing around vents and pipes with appropriate flashing and sealants will prevent water from seeping into the roof structure.

Proper installation and regular inspection of flashing and sealants will ensure their effectiveness and longevity.

4. Ice and Water Shield Installation

For homeowners residing in colder climates where ice dams are a common problem, installing an ice and water shield can be beneficial. This self-adhesive membrane is applied to the lower portion of the roof, providing extra protection against water infiltration caused by ice buildup.

An ice and water shield acts as a second line of defense, keeping water out of the roof structure during freeze-thaw cycles.

5. Proper Ventilation

Inadequate ventilation can lead to excess moisture buildup in the attic, causing condensation and subsequent damage to the roof structure. Installing proper ventilation options, such as ridge vents or gable vents, will ensure a continuous flow of fresh air, reducing the risk of leaks caused by condensation.


Q: Can I waterproof my gambrel roof myself?
A: While some maintenance activities, such as cleaning the gutters, can be done by homeowners, it is generally recommended to hire professional roofing Contractors for waterproofing and major repairs. Their expertise will ensure the correct installation of materials and techniques, guaranteeing long-lasting protection.

Q: How often should I inspect my gambrel roof for leaks?
A: It is recommended to inspect your roof at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall. Additionally, after severe weather events, it is crucial to check for any potential damage or leaks.

Q: Are there any additional measures to prevent ice dams on gambrel roofs?
A: Installing heat cables along the roof’s eaves can help prevent ice dams. These cables melt the snow and ice, preventing their buildup and subsequent water infiltration.


Gambrel roofs are an architectural gem, but their unique design also presents challenges in terms of waterproofing. By understanding the vulnerabilities and employing suitable waterproofing solutions, homeowners can protect their properties from leaks and water damage. Regular roof inspection and maintenance, along with enhancements like underlayment, flashings, and proper ventilation, will ensure the longevity and integrity of gambrel roofs for years to come. Consider consulting with roofing professionals for expert advice and assistance in implementing these waterproofing solutions.

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