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What is a Bonnet Roof and Why You Would Want One?

A close look at a dark red metal tiled bonnet roof with a white chimney.

Like most people, you probably think of a bonnet as one of those old-fashioned hats women used to wear. You might not even know that your house can have a bonnet, too. The bonnet roof is one of the most unique roof designs, but most people have no idea what it’s called.

Find out what makes a bonnet roof a bonnet roof and why this is one of the best roof styles you can choose. Because even if you’d never wear a bonnet on your head, you may still decide that you definitely want one for your house.

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Also Known As

The bonnet roof design is a little tricky because it’s got a bunch of other names, too. This style is also known as a belcote roof. Sometimes, however, people call the bonnet roof what it looks like: a modified hip roof or a modified gable roof. With all these names floating around, it’s easy to get confused. But once you know how to spot a bonnet roof, you’ll never have trouble picking this style out of a crowd.

You know you’re looking at a bonnet roof when you’re looking at a roof that has a double slope on all four sides. The upper part of the roof has a steeper pitch than the lower portion, which has a more shallow pitch than the upper roof. Usually, this lower-pitched section of the roof extends out to hang over the house, which creates a covered area for the porch or patio. That’s why the bonnet roof might also be called a kicked eave roof.

The bonnet roof design is big in French architecture. That’s why you’ll most commonly see this style in Louisiana, where French influence has always been strong. However, this roof style works anywhere and looks good with all sorts of architectural designs no matter where your home happens to be.

Installing a Bonnet Roof

There are a lot of things you can DIY on your own. Homeowners can save themselves a lot of money by investing in some tools, rolling up their sleeves and just going at it. You can always do a little bit of this and a little of that, make your own improvements and laugh at people who hire others to do their house stuff for them. But there are some things you definitely shouldn’t try to do on your own, no matter how many tools you have or how much you love to DIY.

Installing a bonnet roof is one of them. The design is deceptively simple. Bonnet roofs don’t have a lot of fancy dips and curves and turns, but that doesn’t mean that just anyone can install this type of roof.  Because while the design may look simple, bonnet roof designs are actually one of the more complicated styles you can choose, installation-wise.

Bonnet roof designs are actually one of the more challenging choices among roof options because the pitch has to be extremely precise and everything has to match up just perfectly. You don’t just want an expert roofer to install a bonnet roof, you want one who specifically has experience with bonnet roof styles.

A small brick house with bonnet roof under construction.

Because this is a somewhat challenging design, you may pay a little more to have a bonnet roof installed over other options. There are some extra incentives to installing a bonnet roof that does make up for the cost, however.

The bonnet roof design has been around for a while, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find a roofer with experience with the bonnet roof style. This design is starting to become a little uncommon, as many newer homes are built with newer roof styles. So you may have to call around to find the right roofer, but the effort will pay off when you get an expert who can perform this job well and give you a perfect roof.

Don’t forget about the supports. Depending on how far the lower portion of your bonnet roof extends and the general design of your house, you may need to add columns or beams to lend structural support to the overall design. Consult with your roofer to find out if this is needed.

Adding supports to your home can change the look of your home, which can be a huge bonus of having a bonnet roof. Columns and beams are also a more classic home feature and you know what they say: something that’s classic never actually goes out of style.

Why Choose a Bonnet Roof?

So other than the way it looks and that convenient extra roof overhang for the porch area, why should you choose a bonnet roof? For one thing, this type of roof can actually give you a little more space inside your home. Because the top of the roof is pitched so sharply, you’ll wind up with a tall roof. Some people find they have room inside the roof area for a loft that can be used as extra living space or storage.

A modern brick home with tiled bonnet roof.

Because of the way the lower portion of the bonnet roof extends out away from the house, you end up with all sorts of usable space right outside the house, too. The roof is a perfect covering for porch and patio areas, which gives you outdoor living space.

Is a Bonnet Roof Right for You?

So, is your home right for a bonnet roof? This style of roof wears well against the elements and stands up even to heavy rain and snow. Thanks to the sloping design, moisture and snow don’t typically pile up on bonnet roof styles — in contrast to much flatter roof designs. If you want to have a little extra space near the top of your house and around the outside of your house, you won’t go wrong with a bonnet roof.

Because the style is now considered a classic, you don’t see bonnet roof designs often. This can give your home a very distinct and unusual look. They say that everything old is new again. Who knows? You may just put a bonnet roof on your home and start a whole new trend.

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