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Form and Function of Roof Types: Mansard Roof

Form and Function of Roof Types: Mansard Roofs

A Mansard roof is an attractive but less commonly-seen style of roof. It traces its origins to 17th century France, hence one of its other monikers, the French roof. In America, the style can be found largely in the South, where French influence was strongest.

What Is a Mansard Roof?

This style of roof is defined by a four-sided roofing structure, each side having a double slope that meets to form a low-pitched roof. The upper slope is often gentle enough to be mistaken for flat, while the lower slope is generally much steeper, almost perpendicular to the ground. These lower slopes are often decorative, and may be curved, flat, or embellished with other architectural details.

Mansard Roof

Benefits of a Mansard Roof

One of the main benefits which popularized this style when it was first introduced is that it opens up more living space without having to increase the number of stories in the building. What may have been a crawl space or a rather narrow attic under a traditionally sloped roof, is now a much larger and more liveable space. Whether you are designing your dream home or looking to purchase, homes with this style of roof offer a great deal of flexibility. Having the option to make additions without having to completely redo the roof is always exciting!

The other benefit of this style, of course, is that it lends an old-world aesthetic appeal that is not terribly common in most parts of the country. Those who are wanting to build a home that stands out on their block can enjoy the customizing options that the Mansard roof provides.

Challenges Posed by This Style

Because they are less common, and certainly tend to be more ornate than the average roof, Mansard roofs generally represent a larger investment to install. They are also not recommended for areas known for receiving heavy snowfall, as the low-pitched roof will not be as effective at getting the snow off the structure.


This unique and appealing design lends itself to the use of less common or conventional materials to really make it pop. The steeper portion of the roof could, for example, utilize a metal such as zinc or copper. Though more expensive upfront, it will not require as much maintenance. Mansard roofs can also make use of more traditional materials such as wood, slate, or asphalt shingles to great effect.

Here at Lyons Roofing, we are proud to be the team you can count on to learn more about all styles of roofs. Call us at (520) 447-2522 today to schedule an appointment!