What Is A Hip Roof? 5 Important Things To Know When Building Or Replacing One

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Unless you're a contractor, the chances are good that you're not familiar with the different types of roof construction you can choose for your home.  If you're considering building or replacing yours, you'll want to know what is a hip roof, and what you can expect when you get started on your project.

In this article, we'll dive into the specifics on what makes a hip roof different, and uncover five essential things you need to know if you're planning on building or replacing one.

What Is A Hip Roof?

A hip roof is a type of design that features slopes on all four sides of your structure that come together at the apex to form a ridge.  There are four subtypes of hip roof styles that each gives you different, unique premium design features.

Hip roofs are popular because they’re not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also hold up well against wind, rain, snow, and wind.  They also have efficient gutters that make them an ideal choice for buildings in areas that experience a lot of rainfall or a variety of weather conditions.

There are pros and cons to this design, and a few factors you need to consider if you’re planning on building or replacing your worn out roof.  We’ll give you insight into the different types of hip roof styles, how you frame them, the average costs, and the advantages and disadvantages of this design.

Hip Roof Styles

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There are four main styles of hip roofs.  They are:

  • Mansard
  • Tented
  • Gable
  • Pavillion

They each offer a different aesthetic to the outside of your home, as well as the opportunity for design features like a crow’s nest, dormer, or vaulted ceilings on the inside. Here are the main difference between the options.

Hip Roof Styles

There are four main styles of hip roofs.  They are:

  • Mansard
  • Tented
  • Gable
  • Pavillion

They each offer a different aesthetic to the outside of your home, as well as the opportunity for design features like a crow’s nest, dormer, or vaulted ceilings on the inside. Here are the main difference between the options.

Mansard Roof


A mansard roof is a design that uses two different angles in the roofing.  The lower section is significantly steeper than the top segment.

Tented Roof


A hipped roof design that features steep slopes and a polygon shape that rise to a peak is called a tented roof.

Gable Roof


A gable roof uses the hip design and then adds a gable above it.  

Pavilion Roof


This design is most common in gazebo structures and is sometimes also called a pyramid roof.  These are usually smaller than what you would see on an average home and are built on top of a square structure rather than a rectangular one.

What You Need To Know About Hip Roof Framing

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If you’re considering hiring a contractor or construction a hip roof as part of a do-it-yourself project, you’ll want to start by learning the basics.

Start by learning what is a hip roof made of and how it’s framed. This style is usually comprised of four separate parts:

  • Common Rafters
  • Ridge Board
  • Hip Rafters
  • Jack Rafters

Common rafters are the backbone of the design and are what will determine the height of the roof.  They run from the ridge to the top of the exterior walls, and they center the ridge board or the uppermost part of the structure.

The ridge board itself is where you'll connect both the standard and hip rafters by nailing them into place.  The hip rafters are placed at a 45-degree angle to the ridge board and then run down to the four outside corners of the structure.

The jack rafters connect to the hip rafters as a brace and then run at a slope down to the exterior wall of the building.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Hip Roof?

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Hip roofs have higher labor and material costs than other designs.  How much you'll spend on your project will vary significantly depending on the size of the roof you need, how many hips are in the project, the number of dormers, and the materials you use.

Here are some general estimates of what you can expect to pay for the different components of the project.

Framing Roof Surface: $8 to $12 per square foot

Framing Materials: $1 to $2 per square foot

Roof Materials: $4 to $20 per square foot per material

Based on those numbers, the complete installation of a hip roof on a 1,600 square foot roof could cost anywhere between $20,800 and $54,00 plus the cost of labor.


Pros Of Hip Roofs


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As with any roofing design, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider before you decide to install a hip roof on your home.  Here are a few you need to know.

Hip Roofs Are Self-Bracing

Thanks to their unique design and construction, hip roofs don’t require a lot of diagonal bracing but will easily stand up to storms and wind gusts.  This is different from other types, and it will give you some cost savings in materials over other sloped roof designs that need additional wind braces to make them sturdy. 

Hip Roofs Can Withstand Hurricane-Force Winds

Although no roof is entirely hurricane-proof, hip roofs are uniquely suited to withstand extreme winds thanks to their 30-degree or more slope that cuts through the gusts without damage.  Flat roofs can sometimes create lift, which is why they are ripped off, and the joists are damaged.  You can almost always avoid that fear with a hip-style design.

Hip Roofs Prevent Standing Water

Thanks to their rectangular base and pyramid top, there aren’t any flat surfaces where water can pool on your hip roof.  This means that, during a rainstorm, all the condensation passes directly to the gutters efficiently and you won't have to worry about leaks or decay.

This is also a helpful feature if you live in a climate that experiences heavy snowfall.  The steep angles mean that the snow won’t stick or collect in any heavy spots and instead will fall freely to the ground preventing any damage to the roof over time.

Hip Roofs Give You Curb Appeal

Hip roof shapes and designs are eye-catching and have long been used in notable structures.  Many famous churches, traditional mansions, and preserved historical residential properties have the design element, and it’s an instant way to give your home a glamorous and classic look.

To up the ante, you can choose high-quality roofing materials that feature elegant textures and colors that compliment your overall design.  

Whether you layer in traditional shingles, like these from Gaf Royal Sovereign with an attractive gray finish, or these decorative Adobe Clay shingles from GAF Glenwood, or use more upscale materials like slate, metal or clay tiles, there’s an option that will match your overall aesthetic and take your look up a notch.

Hip Roofs Provide More Living Space

Another unique advantage of a hip roof over a flat roof is that you also get more space inside your home.  You can choose to either leave the vaulted ceiling on the interior or add square footage as a dormer nest.

These cozy nooks have angled walls on each side, and are often popular areas for children to play or for a reading or art space.  They add value to your home overall, but you’ll also need to work additional material and construction costs into your budget to build it out.

Cons Of Hip Roofs


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Despite the many advantages, there are a few potential drawbacks to weigh before you commit to your hip roof construction project.  Here are the main points to know.

Higher Construction Costs

Unlike a traditional flat roof or even a standard gable design, hip roofs are a complex structure that can be significantly more expensive to install.

When you combine the cost of the various materials required, the construction of the additional beams and support structures needed to support the weight, and the work to build the foundations, it adds up quickly.

You’ll also spend more on labor because it’s not a simple job that just any handyman can do.  You’ll want to hire a reputable architect or contractor to draw up plans to ensure that you build a stable roof, and there may be additional hours of construction needed to assemble the structure.

Hip Roofs Have An Increased Risk Of Leaks

Although a hip roof does a good job of shuttling moisture off its surface by design, there are some vulnerable areas where water can still get in.  Along the seams along the different angles of the surface is an opportunity for your roof to spring a leak.

Particularly, if you use fully-adhered, or mechanically-fastened single-ply roofing systems, you could have water seeping into your home in as little as a year or two.

Heat-welded seams, which take longer and are more expensive to do will perform better, but if any one of them is done incorrectly, you could still end up with a leak that needs repair.

Hip Roofs Are Heavy And Could Require Additional Materials

Depending on what type of material you use to construct your roof, you might need additional joists to support the weight.  Particularly if you go with galvanized metal, modified bitumen, or architectural shingles, as these are the heaviest options.

Additional joists may also mean more labor hours required to install the roof and complete the project, which can add to your costs.

The Bottom Line

Despite the few disadvantages, hip roofs are a popular and classic design that might be perfect for your home.  Before taking on a project, make sure you fully understand what is a hip roof, and all of the things required to install one on your property.

If the pros outweigh the cons, and you have the budget to complete the project, there’s nothing stopping you from upgrading your home with this attractive feature.




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