Home Home Design Mansard Roof – A Popular and Historic Type of Roofing

Mansard Roof – A Popular and Historic Type of Roofing


The Mansard roof is among the most popular types of roofs across the world. This particular roof consists of four sides, two of which have slopes, and have no gables.

The lower of the two slopes are very steep, practically like a vertical wall, while the upper of the two slopes consists of a low pitch that is hard to see from the ground and is simply there to permit proper flow of water off the roof.

Recognizing a Mansard Roof

When it comes to identifying a mansard roof, there are two things to be on the lookout for a double pitch and steep slopes, or sides. Sometimes, homes with steep sides accompanying a single plane roof can often be mistaken for a mansard roof. Easily so, since the mansard roof’s upper slope is not visible by someone standing on the ground looking up at the building and roof.

Further, a barn roof may also be mistaken for a mansard roof. However, the main difference between these two roofing styles is the fact that the barn roof, which is also known as a gambrel roof style, consists of two sides with steep slopes while the mansard roof, of course, has steep slopes all the way around. You could call the barn roof a curb gable roof due to only two sides of the roof having steep slopes and the mansard roof a curb hip roof because of all sides having slopes.

Throughout Germany as well as France, the gambrel roof and the mansard roof are considered on in the same – all are mansard roofs.

See also: How to Build a Mansard Roof

The History of the Mansard Roof

So, just where does the Mansard roof come from? The Mansard roof was popularized in France back in the 1600’s by Francois Mansart, a French architect; however, he was not the actual inventor of the roofing style.

Mansart was born in 1598 and passed away in 1666. He attended Paris, France’s Beaux Arts School of Architecture, and revived the Mansard roof, which was typical in Louvre and architecture of the French Renaissance. His great-nephew, Jules Hardouin-Mansart continued this roofing style tradition.

Later, in 1850, the Mansard roof was revived once again during the Second French Empire, which took place from 1852 to 1870. This was when Napoleon III rebuilt Paris.

The mansard roof style becomes very popular and well known through this era of time becoming the frequent roofing style throughout the world being used for numerous government buildings, train stations, and hotels.

Because of this period of time, when you hear “Second Empire,” the term is most likely referring to buildings built with a mansard roof.

In the United States, individuals have known the mansard roof as a beautiful Victorian style, which was very popular from around 1860 through the 1880’s, which was the time in which was associated with the Victorian style architecture era.

It became a very popular style of roofing for mansions and family dwellings throughout the U.S., Canada, and New England. Further, in detail, gothic style elements were utilized in conjunction with the mansard roof as were Italian elements. Many designs even incorporated towers on top of the mansard roof for a unique appearance.

Aside from the “Second Empire,” the mansard roof may also be referred to as a French roof as well as a hip-style roof.

Why Use Mansard Roofs?

Well, for ages, the mansard roof has been considered one of the most practical styles of roofing known to man because of it permits livable quarters within the home’s attic. Because of this exact reason, when buildings were remodeled, they were often restored with a mansard roof to allow such a benefit to be enjoyed.

The extra space that the mansard roof creates is often known as the garret. The additional space allows for attic space to be open and easily maneuverable or it permits an entirely another story on the house for a game room, an extra bedroom or a family room.

Need to know: pros and cons mansard roof

Today’s Use of the Mansard Roof

More often than not, the mansard roof is used on apartment buildings, Neo-eclectic homes as well as restaurants. It is recommended that the mansard roof not is used in areas with heavy snowfall, as the weight from the snow could cause an unnecessary force on the low slope section of the roof creating a strain – and eventually, a break – in the bracing of the roof.

And, if we were to be true to ourselves, most buildings that incorporate the mansard roof aren’t actually using the entire mansard roof design. In fact, many buildings – such as those in big cities like New York City – simply use the mansard roof design as a façade on the front of the building for appearances only and are simply flat surfaces rather than building the entire roof in the mansard style.

Essentially, this keeps those passing by from noticing the heating, air conditioning and ventilation equipment that is installed on the rooftop of the buildings.

Mansard Roof style gallery