Made to last with clean lines and a sturdy design, hip roofs remain hugely popular the world over. While they’re commonly used on cottages and bungalows, they’re a versatile choice for any house style. Before you decide on the roof that best suits your needs, here’s all you need to know about crowning your home with a hip roof:
A hip roof or hipped roof has four sloped sides that join at the top to form a ridge. Unlike a gabled roof which slopes inward on two sides, hip roof have equal length sides, usually with a fairly gentle slope and no gables or other vertical sides.
Though more difficult to construct than a gabled roof (and a little more pricey), hip roofs offer excellent durability in a variety of shapes to suit your specific design needs.
The hip roof framework is made up of a complex system of rafters and trusses, with triangular faces called hip ends and a ridge along the centre. Its design is made up of four main parts:
Common rafters run down from the top of the roof to the top of the exterior house walls. As they connect directly to the ridge board, they set the centre and height of the roof.
The ridge board acts like a frame for the uppermost part of the roof and is used to nail the common and hip rafters in place.
Hip rafters run along the ‘hip’ where the roof faces meet. Nailed at a 45 degree angle to the ridge board, they’re also used to nail the top of the jack rafters to the hip.
Jack rafters are sloping beams that become shorter in length and support the roof’s weight.
Much like a gable roof , hipped roofs can be covered with almost any type of roofing material to suit your design vision.
Depending on your budget and style, it’s worth taking a closer look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular materials on offer:
A roofing favourite thanks to its natural look, durability and attractive design, an average wood roof can last 30-60 years if it’s well maintained (that’s five to 10 times longer than shingles). Easy to repair or replace, eco-friendly wood shingle offers good insulation value, and is biodegradable which means a lighter load on landfills.
That said, wood shingles can be expensive to purchase and install. Typical roofing costs vary depending on the wood used, with the most popular being Cedar which costs around £45 per square metre (including installation). Wood does tend to rot, split and develop mould and mildew when exposed to the elements, so maintenance is essential and should be factored in as an ongoing cost. An annual power wash will keep the roof clean, and professional roofers are able to treat wood with quality preservatives and cleaning solutions. To improve its fire rating, wood also needs to be pressure treated and checked regularly for insect infestations.
Offering a simple and more cost-effective solution, a well-installed asphalt or bitumen sealed shingle roof delivers a good level of protection and a relatively short lifespan of 12 – 17 years. Also known as composition shingles, asphalt shingles are an excellent option for homeowners who need a stylish look at a fraction of the cost. Styles come in 3-Tab, architectural and premium shingles with different textural options to suit any style of home. Shingles are also fire resistant and installation costs are much lower, with many homeowners opting to self-install.
While lower in price, asphalt shingles are sensitive to extreme temperatures which cause cracking and colour fading, especially in hot climates. Cheaper grades of asphalt shingles like 3-tab are more prone to wind uplift, and all composite shingles are petroleum based so they’re environmentally unfriendly. Bitumen sealed roof shingles cost around £12 to £15 per square metre and regular maintenance and repairs are needed especially before rain and snow to remove mildew and moss. It’s also important to remember that installation at below freezing temperatures can result in damage.
Around for centuries, tiled roofs last for many decades – a lot longer than many other roofing materials. As well as being highly attractive and durable, tiles won’t rot and are resistant to fire and insect damage and need little maintenance. Available in many colours and styles, concrete and clay tiles stand up to heavy rains and other weather extremes and help with insulation and energy savings in your home thanks to air circulation under the tiles.
Expensive to install, tiles are very heavy and can be fairly fragile, where walking on the roof can easily break tiles. Installation and repairs can be tricky and replacement tiles can be expensive, but they’re still fairly easy to replace one or a few at a time. Costs can vary depending on the choice of tile, but as a guide you can expect:
£12-£22 per square metre for concrete tiles
£28-£40 per square metre for clay tiles
Up to £70 per square metre for slate tiles
Granite or Welsh slate can cost as much as £150 per square metre
The cost of roof construction depends largely on the size of your tiles and angle of the roof: the greater the angle, the greater the surface area which pushes up the cost. As a rough guide, for every 5° increase in the slope of the roof, your cost per square metre will rise by around 4%.
Remember when calculating your costs to include scaffolding, gutters, roof vents and chimneys.
All roofing quotes need to include the costs of other materials such as underfelt or membrane, battens and ridging tiles.
As with any roofing installation, accurate measurements are essential. Unlike a flat roof or lean-to, hip roofs have sloping sides so construction needs to be done with high precision and safety, which is why it’s worth considering using a professional roofing contractor. Using a hip roof calculator, you’ll need to measure the width and length of the building to calculate the dimensions and lengths of the ridge board and rafters.
Once you’ve measured the length of your common rafters, hip rafters and ridge board, remember to allow room at the end of the common rafters and hip rafters to fit to the ridge board. Then follow these steps to frame and install your hip roof:
Calculate the run of the common rafters (the distance from the outside of the wall to the inside of the ridge board) so you can place ceiling joists next to the common and hip jack rafters.
Once you’ve laid the common rafters in position, place the ceiling joists alongside the rafter positions. Depending on the pitch of your roof, you might want to leave the ceiling joist end out until the hip rafters are in place.
The first step in framing a hip roof is to lift the ridge board to the correct height. You’ll probably need at least three carpenters to set the ridge in place and have at least six common rafters cut and ready to put into their final position. With two carpenters in the centre of the building near the ends of the ridge board, the third person then hands the top of the common rafters to them in the middle.
Start by nailing one rafter to the top of the wall that’s next to the ceiling joist, while the carpenter in the middle holds the top in its approximate location. Then go to the opposite sides of the building and repeat the process. The carpenter in the middle can now just let the plumb cuts rest together to support the weight. Repeat this process with the third man on the other end of the ridge board.
The carpenter who was working on the outside walls can now hand the ridge board to the middle carpenters and help them to slip the ridge in between the common rafters and nail it in place.
Now place the king common rafters in place at the ends of the ridge board. This locks the ridge in its final position so you won’t need temporary braces.
Move on to setting the hip rafters, which should need only two carpenters unless they’re extremely long and heavy. Remember to first nail the bottom in place, then the top.
At this point, give the roof cutter a head start on the hip jacks while setting the rest of the common rafters. Once the rafters are fixed, it’s time to install the jack rafters between the hip rafters and common rafters.
Before setting the jack rafters, make sure the hip rafter is straight, with a string line nailed on top and a temporary brace nailed near the centre to hold it straight. Jack rafters should be nailed on opposite sides of the hip rafter to keep it straight, moving from one end to another which is a lengthy process but ensures better precision.
Finally, install the fascia and then nail the sheathing to the frame to cover the roof faces before applying your chosen roofing material.
PROS CONS Gable Roof
Attractive, cheaper and easier to build
Not ideal for high wind and hurricane areas
More space for attic or loft storage
Fewer leaks and excellent water drainage, thanks to a steeper pitch
Needs good framing support to avoid collapse
Good for wet and snowy weather conditions
If there’s too much overhang, winds can lift the roof away from walls.
Excellent for high wind and snowy areas thanks to its slanted roof, stable design and no flat ends to catch the wind
More expensive to install and difficult to construct
Compact solid appearance to increase overall value of your home and to suit most house styles
Less room inside the roof space and maintenance access is more difficult
Hip roofs are self-bracing and need less diagonal bracing
Can be prone to leaks if dormers are added and they’re not properly installed with waterproofing
No tall gable walls which saves on sheathing, siding or brick.
Hip roofs are difficult to ventilate and there is no gable with a window for natural light.