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What is a Hip Roof?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A hip roof is a style of roof in which the roof has four sides which all slope towards the eaves. Hipped roofs, as they are also called, are used in architecture all over the world, and there are a number of variations on the basic design. This type of roof can be a bit challenging to construct, but it requires less support and bracing than some other roof designs, and it creates a very even, solid appearance which some people find aesthetically pleasing.

In a house with a square floorplan, the hipped roof looks like a pyramid set on top of the house. The slope of the roof is often gentle to avoid creating a sharp point at top of the roofline. Rectangular houses have two trapezoidal sections which meet to create a roofline, with smaller triangular sections on the short sides of the house which meet up with the sides of the trapezoid to make a hip roof. In homes with irregular floorplans, a hipped roof can be created with a series of shapes which create an array of peaks and valleys.

One variation on the hip roof is the mansard roof. In a mansard roof, each side of the roof actually has two sections. The bottom section is very steep, and the top section is quite shallow. The mansard roof design addresses one of the most common problems with the hip roof, which is lack of clearance under the roof. This design may be used when people want to create usable attic space or upper floors.

The hip roof can also be mixed with dormers. Dormers can vary in size, shape, and style, creating more room under the roof and generating more visual interest. Since a hip roof can look a bit blocky or chunky, dormers can also interrupt the line of the roof visually, making a house seem less cumbersome. Dormers also provide a way to admit more light into the structure, which can be beneficial when the design of a house is a bit dark.

While the hip roof can create a disadvantage because there is not much headroom under the roof, it has one distinct advantage, which is that it tends to resist high winds better than other roof designs. In regions where hurricanes and winter storms are common, hip roofs can be very popular, as they are more likely to survive. The roof provides minimal wind resistance, and the solid design helps it hold on to the walls.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Mammmood — On Jan 28, 2012

@Charred - It’s more difficult to build – and shingle – the hip roof in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some useful applications for it which would be easier for the homeowner to build.

For example, hip roof porches can easily be built without too much trouble. The porch provides you with a manageable area that you can work and this makes it easier to begin to lay down your hip roof trusses that will be part of the backbone of your construction project.

Another area where I’ve seen hip roofs is in sheds in the backyard and even, believe it or not, large bird houses! A friend of mine cares for pigeons as a hobby so he built a birdhouse for them, about twenty pigeons in all. The bird house was for all practical purposes a shed with a hip roof.

By Charred — On Jan 27, 2012

I wonder if it would be challenging to shingle a hip roof, especially for the do-it-yourself homeowner? The roof rises like a pyramid so that it becomes steeper as you climb.

I’ve never shingled an entire roof but I did fix the corner of my roof once, which had been leaking due to hail storms. The rest of the roof was fine. I think that if I had a hip roof I would probably leave any major repair jobs to the professionals.

By bagley79 — On Jan 27, 2012

The closest thing I have come to deciding on what type of roof to put on something is our gazebo.

A few years ago we decided to put a gazebo in our back yard. This is a great place to hang out with friends and family in the summer time. It is also a perfect place to escape with a good book.

We have a hip roof on our gazebo which I think is the most appealing. I think a gazebo would look funny with a flat roof. Since this is a much smaller space than the roof of a house, it isn't so hard to take care of if you need to repair something.

We made sure and screened in our gazebo so we could enjoy it without worrying about the bugs bothering us.

By LisaLou — On Jan 26, 2012

When we were having our house built, we looked at several types of roofing choices. It was narrowed down the the hip roof plans or a mansard roof.

I liked the steeper look of the hip roof, but the mansard roof is the one we ended up going with. The lower slope is steeper, but since it is closer to the ground, it is not as bad as the whole house having a steep roof.

I also like the fact that there is some extra storage space at the top of the house. I had never paid much attention to the different kinds of roofs until I had to make some choices on it.

When we drive around and I see houses I like, I find that I still like the houses that have hip roofs, but don't think I would like to be the one building it or maintaining it.

By SarahSon — On Jan 26, 2012

I had never given much thought to the type of roof that was on our house until we had to have a whole new roof put on.

We had a bad wind and hail storm in our area, and there was a lot of hail damage done. We live on a dead end road with 4 other houses, and all 5 of us ended up getting our roofs replaced.

We have a hip roof on our house that has some peaks and valleys too. Our roof is very steep, and because of this, our hail damage was not as bad as one neighbor who has a roof that is flatter.

The hip roof design was an advantage when it came to something like that, but we still had to have the whole thing replaced. I know I wouldn't want to be a roofer. That looks like hard work and when you have a steep roof like a hip roof, it can be dangerous too.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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