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Mansard Roof: Types, Materials Used, Advantages and Cost

Date: May 11, 2024

A mansard roof stands out as one of the most distinctive styles you'll encounter in residential architecture, imparting a charming Tudor or cottage aesthetic that sets homes apart from their neighbors. Despite its appeal, this roofing option diverges significantly from traditional hip or gable roofs. Hence, what precisely constitutes a mansard roof, and what distinguishes it from other roofing styles?

What Is A Mansard Roof?

A mansard roof, also known as a French or curb roof, is a special kind of roof with two slopes. The sides of the roof are very steep, almost like walls, while the top part is flatter. Imagine your house having a roof that goes down the sides almost like walls. Even though it's not completely vertical, it's still very steep. It needs to stick out about two feet from the bottom and then slope up to the top so that rainwater can run off.

What Are The Types of Mansard Roofs?

"Mansard" is just a fancy name for this kind of roof, similar to saying "hip" or "gable." But there are different types of mansard roofs based on how the lower part of the house looks.

  • Straight: A straight mansard roof has a nearly flat top and a steep, almost vertical bottom. It's a striking look, especially with dormer windows that match the roof's shape. Snow and debris can gather on the flat top, but modern designs and materials can help deal with that.
  • Convex: A convex mansard roof is shaped like a bell, with the lower part curving outward. It's commonly seen on government buildings and courthouses. This style often includes dormer windows, and arched windows can make it look even fancier. While it's not common in homes, it's great for adding extra space without building another floor.
  • Concave: A concave mansard roof slopes inward, creating a hollow or bowl-like shape. This style is less common but can add a unique touch to a building's design. It typically features dormer windows that complement the curved shape. While it may not offer as much interior space as other styles, it still adds architectural interest and can enhance the overall look of a home or building.
  • S-shape: An S-shape mansard roof combines convex and concave slopes, giving it a unique S shape. The roof starts with a slope inward and then curves outward like a bell. It provides more floor space upstairs but might have a narrow ceiling. Because of its complex design, it could be more expensive to install.

What Are the Advantages of a Mansard Roof?

Mansard roofs aren't very common in modern single-family homes today. But they have some great benefits that make them perfect for cities or small homes with limited space.

  • They look really nice: Mansard roofs have a fancy, old-fashioned look that can make your home stand out and maybe even raise its value.
  • More room to expand: If you want to add more space to your home but don't have extra land, a mansard roof lets you build up instead of out. The steep slope makes it easier to add another floor.
  • Extra living space: The steep part of the roof creates a big loft area inside, perfect for another bedroom or office. It also looks cool with high ceilings and big windows.
  • Better light and warmth: Mansard roofs usually have windows that bring in lots of light and fresh air. They also help spread warmth evenly, making your home cozier in winter.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Mansard Roof?

While a mansard roof has its perks, it also comes with some downsides. Here are the main things to consider before choosing this fancy roof style:

  • Costlier to install: Because mansard roofs are less common, it can be harder to find roofers who know how to build them. They take longer to install and need more materials, so they end up costing more.
  • More expensive upkeep: The fancy design of a mansard roof makes it harder to clean and maintain. Water and dirt can get trapped in all the nooks and crannies, and it's not easy to reach all the spots for cleaning.
  • Permit troubles: Getting permission to build a mansard roof can be tricky, as many places require special permits for such a unique roof. This can delay your project and even lead to it being denied in some cases.
  • Not great in bad weather: Mansard roofs have a flatter top part, which means rain and snow can build up instead of sliding off like on other roofs. This can cause leaks and even damage in areas with lots of rain or snowfall.

What’s The Right Roofing Material For A Mansard Roof?

Because a mansard roof is very steep, not all roofing materials can be used because of how heavy they are. 

Choosing the right roofing material for your mansard roof is crucial for both functionality and aesthetic appeal. In this section, we'll explore two premium options: synthetic shingles and cedar shake shingles. Each offers unique benefits and considerations, ultimately allowing you to make an informed decision based on your budget and desired style. 

Synthetic shingles are fancy roof materials made from a special kind of plastic or recycled stuff. They look like slate or cedar shake shingles but cost more than regular asphalt ones. However, they last longer and are lightweight, so they won't slip off easily.

Cedar shake shingles are also top-notch. They're made from real wood (cedar) and are lighter than asphalt shingles. Just like synthetic shingles, they're pricier than asphalt ones.

When picking shingles for your mansard roof, it all boils down to your budget and the style you like. It's essential to choose the right material for your roof, so take your time to decide what works best for you and your home.

What would a Mansard Roof Replacement Cost?

We can't give you an exact price for replacing a Mansard roof, but we can estimate it and explain why it might cost a lot.

Usually, our asphalt shingle roof replacements cost between $8,000 and $20,000. But Mansard roofs are more complex, so they'd likely be at the higher end of that range, or even more.

If you want to know more about how roofing costs are figured out, check out our blog on roof replacement costs!

Remember, it's best to talk to roofing professionals for accurate estimates and advice.

Our Suggestion

Mansard roofs bring to mind grand historical structures and French architectural elegance, adding charm to various home designs. With homeowners increasingly looking for ways to maximize indoor space within limited layouts, the popularity of mansard roofs may see a resurgence.

While the different styles of mansard roofs can be tailored to modern home aesthetics and functional requirements, they do come with certain limitations. Before undertaking any significant home renovation, it's essential to carefully consider the pros and cons and decide whether a mansard roof suits your specific location and climate.

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