What is a Bonnet Roof?

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Bonnet roofs, although an unusual type of roof style, are a good choice for a home with a large, open-sided porch. Bonnet roofs are particularly popular in the French Vernacular style of architecture.

Identification

  • Bonnet roofs are a modification of hip (also known as "hipped") roofs. In hip roofs, unlike gable roofs, all sides of the roof slope down to meet the walls of the house. Because of this, all the walls in a house with a hip roof are the same height.
    Bonnet roofs are characterized by two slopes on all four sides of the structure, with the upper slope much steeper than the bottom slope. The bottom slope is often used to cover an open-sided porch that surrounds the building and is useful in shielding the house from bad weather or heat. Because this bottom portion of the roof looks like a large eave, bonnet roofs are often referred to as a "kicked eaves" roof, and give the house a visored look.

Features

  • Bonnet roofs share many of the advantages and disadvantages of other types of hip roofs. For instance, hip roofs are excellent choices for houses in areas that experience high wind or hurricane conditions because they are less likely than gable roofs to be severely damaged or ripped off. They also provide more shelter from the sun and rain and are easier to attach gutters to.
    However, houses with hip roofs have less internal roof space so that maintenance can be difficult and attic storage space is greatly decreased.

Types

  • Bonnet roofs are only one modification of the typical hip roof. Other types of hip roofs include the simple hip roof, the pyramid hip roof, the cross hipped roof, the half hipped roof, and the dutch gable (actually a mix of both the gabled and hipped roof). Like the bonnet roof, all of these roofs have sides that slope directly down to meet the top of the building's walls.

Significance

  • Bonnet roofs are a major component of French Vernacular architecture, a style of architecture that reflects the influences of the Cajuns and the Creoles in the late 1700s. French Vernacular is found mainly in Louisiana and in towns that sprang up along the Mississippi River in the 18th century.
    The Cajuns were descended from Canadians that settled in Louisiana in the 1700s; the Creoles were descended from people of European ancestry in the Mississippi Valley, West Indies and Gulf Coast.

History

  • In the past, a variation of the bonnet roof style was used extensively as a popular style of roof for greenhouses. These roofs were used in Germany and Poland in the mid 1700s since they provided protection from the cold and rain during bad weather while reflecting and magnifying the sun's rays onto the plants within the structure during good weather.

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  • Photo Credit roofhelper.com; bp0.blogger.com; metmuseum.org; missourifolkloresociety.truman.edu; salvo.co.uk
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