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What Is A Mansard Roof

Mansard Roof Style: What You Need To Know

What is a Mansard Roof?

What is a mansard roof? Would you be able to identify this style if you see one?

You may not know it, but you have probably seen one. If you have ever been to the Louvre in Paris, you have seen a mansard style roof.

This style is also called a French roof, or a curb roof. If a gambrel style roof is a gable roof broken into two sections, a mansard roof is a hip roof broken into two sections.

The top section of a mansard style roof has a very low slope.

You often cant see this part of it from the street the slope is so low. However, it does slope slightly to a central ridge, coming down on all four sides toward the walls.

But the second section, the lower part, of a mansard style roof has a very steep slope. The slope can almost look vertical.

You will know a mansard roof if it looks like the upper portion of the house is shingled rather than covered in siding. That section is not the house its actually the roof.

Different Styles Of Mansard Roof

The double-pitched and steep styles are two main Mansard roof styles that are mostly distinct based upon the drainage system of snow and water. More prolonged and sharper slopes are better for the efficient drainage system. On the other hand, the style of the double-pitched drainage system forms the most reasonable one comparatively.

Sometimes a single-plane conventional roof is misunderstood as a Mansard roof. Well, there is also a concept of curb hip roof and curb gable roof to distinguish between Mansard and Gambrel. Curb hip roof refers to the roof with slopes on all four sides. Whereas, curb Gabel roof refers to the roof with slopes on just two sides, which are commonly known as Gambrel roof.

Traditional French Style With A Modern Look

The classic and elegant style of mansard roofing is part of French architecture that became highly popular during the Renaissance era. This roofing design not only allows more flexibility to add more room, but you will also benefit from a sophisticated looking attic conversion that you can be proud of.

Modern mansard-style conversions include high-quality insulation and materials that last much longer than other roof designs. Since modern mansard roofs feature heavy and durable materials, there is no need to worry about the wooden frames or other parts rotting away. Youll be able to enjoy your classy looking mansard roof for many years to come.

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The Right Type Of Roofing Materials For Your New Mansard Roof

You just learned why its not recommended to install asphalt shingles on a mansard roof. So, youre probably wondering which roofing materials are right for your mansard roof replacement.

There are two types of roofing materials I recommend for mansard roofs, synthetic shingles and cedar shake shingles. Synthetic shingles are made out of recycled plastic to look like slate or cedar shake shingles.

Synthetic shingles are considered a premium line, so theyll be more expensive than standard asphalt shingles. However, they wont slide off the vertical sides of a mansard roof.

The other type of shingles are cedar shakes. Cedar shake shingles are a premium shingle made of natural wood materials.

Instead of hammering every individual cedar shake shingle to the vertical sides of the roof, they make a strip of 6 cedar shakes to install as panels. The panels give the look that each shingle was installed individually.

Like synthetic shingles, theyll be more expensive than asphalt shingles. Ultimately, itll be up to your budget and the look you want when deciding what type of shingle to put on your mansard roof.

Maintenance And Repair Costs Are Also High

What Is a Mansard Roof?

A roof that has high installation costs will almost always have high maintenance and repair costs as well, which is the case with mansard roofs. Many roofers are not familiar with this style especially in this day and age and in this area of the world. Finding the right expert can be a hassle, and it might also cost a bundle when you do.

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A Mansard Roof Has The Steepest Pitch A Roof Can Have

Remember, a mansard roof isnt vertical, but its as close as it gets. This makes a mansard roof the steepest pitch a roof can have.

But what is roof pitch? Roof pitch is simply the angle of your roof.

Your roofs pitch will be a ratio that is calculated by the number of inches or feet it rises vertically for every 12 inches or feet it extends horizontally. For example, a roof that has a 6/12 pitch will be 6 inches up for every 12 inches out.

Because of its steepness, a mansard roof is the exact opposite of a low slope roof. However, they do have something in common. They both arent the right fit for the commonly used asphalt shingles.

To learn more about how a low slope roof compares to a mansard roof, read this article on what a low slope roof is .

A History Lesson On Mansard Roofs

Although the creation of the Mansard roof is accredited to François Mansart , he was not the first to implement this roof architecture. That honor would have to go to Pierre Lescot who used this roofing style on a part of the Louvre Museum in the year 1550.

However, it was not until the early 17th century that the Mansard roof architecture became popular. François Mansart, who was an accomplished architect of the French Baroque period, started adopting this roof style into the buildings he designed for his clients. Thus, this roof architecture was christened as the Mansard roof in his honor.

Interestingly, in Europe, Mansard can also refer to the attic space and not just the roof structure.

The popularity of the Mansard roof kept on growing in France and became even more fashionable during the reign of Napoleon the 3rd . During this time, the Mansard roof style spread across the world and was adopted in buildings in United States, Canada, and many other western countries.

Although the Mansard roof was not used quite as often in traditional homes, it featured in many high-rise residential buildings, especially in the late 1960s and 1970s. Later on, many small commercial buildings also adopted a Mansard style roof. However, unlike a traditional Mansard roof, these roofs had a flat top.

A Mansard Roof Building Located In Fifth Avenue And 19th Streetvia Ephemeral New York

Illustration Courtesy to Homesthetics and Designaissance

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What Is A Mansard Roof And What Advantages/ Disadvantages It Carries

Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

The Mansard Roof has been in existence since the 16th century. However, it was not until the early 17th century that this roofing style gained in popularity. Ever since then, the Mansard roof has become an integral part of French architecture and is quite commonly seen in many buildings located in that part of the world.

What exactly is the Mansard roof? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this roofing style? How did it come into existence? We will answer all these questions and more in this article. So stay tuned to find out everything you need to know about the Mansard roof.


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  • Quick History Of Mansard Roofs

    Commercial Mansard Roof

    The idea of mansard roof design came about in the 16th century by François Mansart. During the Baroque era, Mansart used this roofing technique to create stately homes for the wealthy. However, he wasnt the first person who used this roof style in homes. In 1550, Pierre Lescot was the first person who used the mansard roof on the Louvre Museum in France. As the popularity of this roof grew in France, it became even more favored during the reign of Napoleon III. During this time , the mansard roof style began spreading across the world and was adopted in many buildings throughout the US.

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    Typical Characteristics Of Mansard Roofs

    • Four-sided gambrel style hip roof
    • Two slopes on each side with the lower slope featuring dormer windows
    • The numerous dormer windows are at a steeper angle than the upper slope and allow plenty of light to enter the living space
    • Top of the roof is typically flat and broad for maximum attic space
    • Lower roof pitch can be steeply angled, in an S shape, curving outwards or inwards, concave, or convex
    • Mansard roofs can be up to 2 stories high

    Challenges For Local Laws

    Depending on your area, there are should be taken few permits for different requirements to use the mansard roofing style. thats is so difficult to get this, that is a disadvantage of the mansard roof.

    Depending on the total square footage of the mansard roofing building the taxes are implemented in the various location area. Another disadvantage of mansard roof is, to avoid any structural damage in some areas that has a certain height of the mansard roof buildings.

    For the above reason if you think about constructing a mansard roof then you can discuss with an expert who knows the local areas law for constructing a mansard roof.

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    What Pitch Is A Mansard Roof

    4.1/5pitchpitchmansardroof pitchesanswer here

    Mansard Roof. A mansard roof, also known as a French roof, is a four-sided roof with a double slope on each side that meet forming a low-pitched roof. The lower slope is much steeper than the upper. The sides can either be flat or curved, depending on the style.

    Secondly, what is the difference between a gambrel roof and a mansard roof? A gambrel, or barn roof, is much like mansard in a sense that it has two different slopes. The difference between the two is that the gambrel only has two sides, while the mansard has four. Similar to mansard, the lower side of the gambrel roof has an almost vertical, steep slope, while the upper slope is much lower.

    Regarding this, how much slope do I need for a shed roof?

    Asphalt shingles typically have a minimum slope rating of 4 in 12. This means that for every 12 inches of horizontal distance across the shed the roof will rise 4 inches. This slope works well for sheds that are fairly narrow, like 4 to 6 feet, but for sheds that are 8 or wider the shed roof becomes unsightly high.

    What style house has a mansard roof?

    The Mansard roofs can be convex, concave or straight-angled in shapes. This structure gives you a traditional look and most commonly used in barn houses. In Germany and France, both Mansard and gambrel roofs are referred to as Mansards.

    What Are The Advantages Of A Gambrel Roof

    victorian copper roof

    List of the Advantages of a Gambrel Roof

    • It gives a structure a unique historical vibe that other designs cant offer.
    • Fewer materials are necessary for its construction.
    • It is easy to build a gambrel roof.
    • Gambrel roofs provide excellent drainage.
    • It provides a structure with a long-lasting result.

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    The Right Shingles To Use For A Mansard Roof

    So what are the right shingles to use? Fortunately, there are two options: synthetic and cedar shake shingles.

    Synthetic shingles are a roofing material that mimics the look of cedar shake shingles.

    On the other hand, cedar shake shingles are a roofing material with a premium appeal made of natural wood materials.

    Both of these shingles are priced higher than asphalt however, the risks are also far less than using asphalt.

    Pros Of Mansard Style Roof

    The bottom portion of a mansard style roof can be flat, or slightly concave or convex, depending on which part of the roof.

    Some of the rooflines on very old buildings can be quite ornate and utilize both convex and concave shapes.

    Very often, dormer windows are set into the lower portion of the roof, making the attic space very roomy and full of light.

    In fact, this was the original thought behind building so many structures with this roofline.

    Parisians were taxed for the number of floors under their roof. The garret underneath a mansard style roof wasnt considered a separate story but could be used as living space.

    If your house isnt designed with the attic space already finished, a mansard style roof provides an excellent way to expand without having to build on to your home.

    Mansard roofs also support more even heat distribution in your house, which makes it more comfortable.

    The mansard roof style can look very elegant and timeless if it is done right. In addition, modern materials make mansard style roofs last longer than they did in times past.

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    What Are The Advantages Of Using A Mansard Roof

  • Extra Usable Space You will always want to add a few stories or make an attic inside an existing building with almost zero need for extra support and masonry. The Mansard roof gives you that luxury as it provides you the additional space because of its virtually vertical slopes. Even if you need an extra master bedroom, you will have the flexibility to include one when it comes to comparison with using other popular styles of roofing like the Hip roofs or Gable roofs. So, if you are planning to add rooms in future to your existing home, choosing the Mansard roof will be the perfect choice which will give that extra space required.
  • Suitable for both Rural and Urban Areas The Mansard roof is ideal for both rural and urban areas as it suits well in any kind of property creating a usable space. This style is primarily preferred in the urban areas as it gives you the option to expand upwardly because you will generally not get the space to expand your building outwardly.
  • More light and better Heat Distribution The dormer windows are most commonly used as they stretch along the full length of the bottom slope allowing more natural light to enter. Also, this additional space created with the use of Mansard roof supports efficient and superior heat distribution which makes the building more comfortable.
  • What Are The Advantages Of A Mansard Roof

    Mansard Roofs Shingle Curling

    Theres one main advantage to a building with a mansard roof: it maximizes the space of a buildings attic, allowing for an easy way to add another level of living space without requiring more siding or masonry.

    The upper boxy roof line was considered particularly functional because it permitted a full upper story of usable living area or attic space. For this reason, the style became popular for the remodeling of earlier buildings as well as for new construction, writes Virgina Savage McAleester in A Field Guide to American Houses.

    Some experts argue that mansard roofs were created in part to circumvent zoning restrictions. A Parisian law enacted in the late 1700s, for example, restricted the height of buildings to 65 feet. At the time, building heights were only measured up to the cornice line , meaning that the living space within a mansard roof didnt count toward the total measurement.

    Could you pick a mansard roof out of a lineup armed with this knowledge? Try it out on your next walk.

    Madeline Bilis is a writer and editor with a soft spot for brutalist buildings. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Boston magazine, the Boston Globe, and other outlets. She has a degree in journalism from Emerson College and published her first book, 50 Hikes in Eastern Massachusetts, in August 2019.

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    The Main Advantages Of This Roof Style

    The biggest advantage of a mansard roof in your home is the ability to add more space.

    Conversions are an excellent way to add one or more stories to an existing building without the need for extensive masonry and supports. A curved room shape can result, but this ultimately leads to better heat distribution and efficiency.

    Conversions can definitely vary in price, and you will have to look into the various requirements permit-wise for your area.

    In some locations, there are various taxes which are enacted from the use of this style of roof due to the added square footage on any building.

    Some locations also restrict mansard roof conversions to a maximum of 20 m even on commercial properties. This is just to restrict the potential structural damage to a roof style like this one.

    Revisions to this law can occur so its important to research whether or not your local laws apply to mansard roofing, as well as the size you want to put onto your house.

    What Is The Mansard Roof Advantages And Disadvantages Sheltered

    Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

    When it comes to architectural design, it is not simply engineering it is an art. For this reason, buildings do not look similar though their sole purpose is to create a living space. A roof of a building is essential both aesthetically and structurally. A roof is the most vulnerable section of a building which protects against the environmental hazards like ice, snow, rain, hail, fire, and heat.

    There are various roofing styles like Mansard, different roofing styles became extremely popular. Though the Mansard roof style came into existence in the 16th century, it was widely popularized in the early 17th century and made many comebacks even after the period. The Mansard roof is also referred to as a curb roof or French roof.

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    An Overview Of The History Of Mansard Roofs

    The Mansard roof was popularized by the famous French architect, Francois Mansart who used this distinctive style in many of his works. During the Baroque period , he used this technique of roofing extensively to create chateaus and grand townhouses which caught the eyes of the people. The term Mansard means a roof which has two slopes on all the four sides where the lower slope becomes steeper than the upper one and was named after him. You can also use this term to refer to space or attic under this kind of roof structure and not just only the shape of the roof.

    However, Francois Mansart was not the creator of this unique style. This accreditation goes to Pierre Lescot who used this roof style in 1550 as a part of the Louvre Museum, the largest art museum in the world in Paris, France. After the initial popularity, the Mansard roof was revived during the re-building of Paris and became an extremely fashionable feature in architecture for most of the buildings during the Second Empire , a period during the rule of Napolean III.

    The usage of the Mansard roof in architectural designs became so increasingly popular that it was not limited to only in France. It was used in England and Italy and later spread in entire Europe. Slowly, the Mansard roof style was adopted to construct buildings in many other western countries including Canada and United States of America since it was relatively easy to repair hail damage to roof due to its design.



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