What is a Hip Roof?

A "hipped" roof (or hip roof) is the second-most common roof type in the world, following only gable roofs in popularity. A hipped roof has four sloped sides, whereas a gable roof has only two sloped planes. Read on to learn more about this versatile roof!

What does a hip roof look like?

Think of a hip roof as a pyramid. For square buildings, where each of the sloped planes of the roof are equal, a hip roof resembles a pyramid – all sloped planes meet at the top. By contrast, the common gable roof only includes two sloped planes that meet at the top. A Stable, Self-Braced Frame Hip roofs are self-bracing: all four sides of the roof have inward slopes that brace against each other, making this roof style very strong and structurally sound. Hip roofs are very common in snowy, windy areas, where poor conditions put heavy pressure on a home’s roof.

Hip roofs have a deceptively simple construction. The frame of a hip roof is topped by a ridge board, the critical component where all the roof planes meet. Rafters are placed between the seams of each roof plane. This connects and reinforces the planes of the roof, and the resulting ‘self-braced’ frame is much stronger than a standard gabled edge (where the walls of the home connect to the eaves of two sloped planes, shown below). Extra stability is added with jack rafters, which support each of the sloped sides of the roof from within.

Issues With Hip Roofs

Hip roofs can be more costly than a classic gable roof; the planes of a hip roof can require more roofing materials than are needed for a gable roof. This can be a potential drawback for some homeowners. Additionally, there is less functional home space with a hipped roof; the style of this roof doesn’t leave much room for an attic. Gable roofs do allow for a larger attic space. Ventilation can also be a concern in a hip roof. Trapped air in the attic space can create condensation, mold, and cause other moisture issues. The easiest way to avoid these types of moisture problems is a ventilation system that promotes airflow through the attic space. Allowing hot air (or exhaust) escape from the home is key to preventing a toxic mold build-up.

Other Hip Roof Styles

Just like the gable roof with its many variations, the hip roof has different styles, including:

  • Pyramid Roof: As mentioned before, this refers to a hip roof on a square building. All four roof planes are equal, and meet at the top in a pyramid formation.
  • Mansard Roof: This style features two sloped planes on each side of the roof. The lower angle is generally much steeper than the upper angle. Read our post on the mansard roof style here.
  • Tented roof: Tented roofs are very steep-sloped roofs with multiple sides coming to a sharp peak. Church steeples are often considered to be tented roofs.
  • Dutch Gable or Gable Roof: A hip roof with a gable.
  • Half-Hip, Clipped Gable, or Jerkinhead Roof: A complex roof shape that combines elements from both hip and gable roofs.