How to Frame a Irregular Hip Roof

This article is going to teach you how to frame a irregular hip roof. Irregular roofs are shaped differently than regular ones and can be challenging to figure out on your own, but we’re here to help! The first thing you’ll need is a framing square which will allow you to know where the rafters go and then mark them off with chalk lines.

How to Frame a Irregular Hip Roof

Once those have been established, it’s time for some math. You’ll divide the ridge height from one side by half for this part or just double it if there are only two walls on either side of your house. A great way to get the ridge length is to measure between your gable tops.

Step by Step Guide on How to Frame a Irregular Hip Roof 

Step One: Mark the Hip Rafters

Before you begin a layout of an irregular hip roof, first mark the hip rafter tails on your gable end studs. The best way to do this is by using a framing square. The hip rafters should be 8-inches in-depth, and the end of the tail cut should fall on the centerline while leaving 1-inch above and below it.

Next, measure up from your eave plate 12 inches (4/12) for every 1 inch of rising, which is 4 inches. As a result, your hip rafters should be cut at 48 inches and 52 inches from the end of the eave plate.

Step Two: Mark the Hip Rafters on the Gable End Studs

Using our illustrations as a guide, mark out and cut each hip rafter. First, transfer marks to mark out where the bird’s mouths will fall on each end of your gable end studs. Then use these marks to layout and cut your hip rafters.

Step Three: Cut the Hip Rafters to Length

The hip rafters are cut to length by placing a framing square against the bottom edge of the roof board and marking where the top edge should be. At the apex of a hip, this will intersect with one or both common rafters that form part of the wall below. The height of these intersections is the height that the hip rafter needs to be cut to.

Hip Rafters Are Cut to Length by Placing a Framing Square Against the Bottom Edge

Step Four: Rip the Blocking for Each Hip

Using our illustrations as a guide, mark out and cut your blocking to fit each hip rafter.  Rip these pieces from the same 2x material that you cut your hip rafters from. Again, you can stack two or more of your gable end studs on top of one another to rip them together. Or, if you don’t have a table saw to rip them with, butt-cut two or more studs together and use a circular saw to make the rip cut.

Check it out: How to measure bevel cuts on a table saw.

Step Five: Cut the Jack Rafters

Using our illustrations as a guide, mark out and cut your jack rafters. Since each hip is different, each jack will be different. So mark them out using the marks you made on your roof framing to establish where they go; then cut them one by one until you have enough to frame out the hip.

Step Six: Frame Out the Hip

Again, since each hip is different, each one will be framed differently. But this step works the same no matter how your hip is framed. First, frame the hip rafters by nailing one jack below another, starting from the bottom and working up. Next, nail through each stud of both jacks into a single 2×4 on either end of the hip to connect them.

Then, you can use a regular framing nailer or hammer to secure each jack into the hip rafter directly below it. You can also use a pneumatic finish nailer to ensure these joints if you’d like, but either way, make sure they are secure by checking them with a level after each one is nailed.

Step Seven:  Frame Out the Remaining Jams

Once you have framed out and secured your hip, the rest is easy. Repeat steps five and six for each remaining side of the roof. You can add a small amount to each jack (about 1/4″) to make up for any wood lost in the framing, but remember, this will affect your pitch, so keep it to a minimum.

Step Eight: Frame the Ridges

Frame out each ridge using two common rafters, one cut from either 2×4 or 2×6 that you used for the hip and jack rafters. Attach each ridge to each pair of hips by nailing through the outer rafter into each hip, as shown in our illustration. Secure the ridge into each hip by nailing through the top edge of the outer rafter (see image).

Step Nine: Sheath your Roof

Sheath your roof with whatever material you like, whether it’s plywood or OSB. Next, nail the sheathing down using either 3-inch or 2-inch nails, depending on the thickness of your sheathing, spacing them about 8 inches apart. Make sure to stagger each course so that nails from one piece don’t puncture through the next.

Sheath Your Roof With Whatever Material You Like, Whether It's Plywood or Osb

The hip and jack rafter layout process can be a little confusing at first glance, but if you follow these illustrations as a guide for marking out and framing each hip, it will make sense in no time. Here are some quick tips on how to frame a irregular hip roof.

Can a Hip Roof Be Built With Trusses?

A hip roof will be rectangular. If you want to build a hip roof with trusses, they should be placed about every 2 feet along the length of the structure. This kind of framing process is not recommended for beginner engineers because it can be challenging to balance the pitch of each side evenly. Having two different pitch levels will create a lopsided structure.

This type of framing is used mainly on garages and sheds because it can be built with typical materials that people keep in their garage or shed. It’s best to install the trusses at the same level as your rafters, joists, or purlins. This will help with the weight balance. There are some benefits to building with trusses; the most important is that you DO NOT need a framed skillion or gable.


The framing of an irregular hip roof is essential. If the gable end walls are not appropriately framed, it can be challenging to make adjustments for your home’s roof to sit flush with the exterior wall. The hip and jack rafters of a hip roof must be carefully framed so they balance the weight load equally on all sides. In addition, the pitch needs to match perfectly with the slope of your exterior siding.

A poorly framed hip roof can shake loose over time, causing damage to any rooftop accessories, plants, or flowers placed on top of it. A hip roof is a very stable frame that resists snowfalls and wind gusts. The size of the pitches, hip points, and jacks will determine whether your home’s exterior walls are flat or slanted towards your roof. This will help in how to frame a irregular hip roof.

You may also read – How to build a ridge beam roof.

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