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All About Mansard Roofs: Is It Right For Your Home?

Carol J Alexander

Published on October 30, 2023

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All About Mansard Roofs: Is It Right For Your Home?

A popular part of French architecture, the mansard roof's unique roofline complements home styles in any neighborhood.

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A cross between a gambrel roof and a hip roof, the mansard's unique roofline complements many home styles. Though they're a popular part of French architecture, you also will see them on homes throughout Europe and in America.

Whether building a new home or adding another story to your existing home, choosing the right roof style is important. So, keep reading to learn more about the mansard roof, its pros and cons, and whether you want to include one in your home.

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What is a mansard roof?

Most residential roofs fall into these five categories. 

French architect Francois Mansart popularised the mansard roof design in the 17th century, which remains so today. It combines a gambrel-style and a hip roof, including four sides with two separate slopes. The bottom slope has a steeper angle than the upper slope, making it almost vertical. Its steepness creates more habitable space than the typical gable-end roof. The mansard roof is also known as a French roof or Curb roof.

Types of mansard roofs

While the basic, two-slope structure of a mansard roof is its defining characteristic, there are several types of mansard roofs. 

  • Straight – A straight mansard has straight sides on the lower slopes.
  • Concave – The lower slopes of a concave mansard swoop inward.
  • Convex – The lower slopes of a convex mansard bulge outward, creating a dome-like appearance.
  • S-shaped – An S-shaped mansard includes concave and convex lines on the same plane, giving it an S appearance.

What does a mansard roof cost?

The cost to construct a mansard roof is 71 to 75 percent higher than the cost to build a gable end roof. This increase is due to complexity. Here are the average square foot costs to frame the most popular roof styles.

Square foot cost to frame a mansard roof compared to other styles

Roof style

Average square foot cost to frame

Mansard

$14 to $31

Hip

$11 to $24

Gambrel

$10 to $21

Gable

$8 to $18

Flat

$5 to $11

The best roof coverings for a mansard roof

Traditionally, mansard roofs were covered with slate tiles. But technically, they can be covered with any roof covering. However, because of the steep slope, some experts suggest using lightweight roofing materials, like metal, synthetic slate, or wood shakes, rather than asphalt shingles. "Shingles must be properly fastened in the nailing strip and hand sealed to prevent tearing from the weight of gravity," says Kyle Barr, vice president of franchise operations with Storm Guard Roofing and Construction.

Pros and cons of a mansard roof

The gable end roof is the most popular residential roof style, probably due to cost. However, considering the additional space a mansard roof adds to a home and other positive features, it's worth the price to some homeowners. Before expanding your home up or building a new home with a mansard roof, weigh these pros and cons against the increased cost.

Pros
  • + Adds additional living space
  • + More light
  • + Increase curb appeal
Cons
  • - Higher cost to build and to replace
  • - Not as weather-resistant
  • - Tricky to install and align shingles

Pros

  • Can provide additional living space – A gable end roof has minimal space to stand erect. However, all four sides of a mansard roof are almost vertical, eliminating the squeeze toward the walls. This style affords the homeowner more interior space to expand their home without adding an addition. 
  • Enhances curb appeal – A mansard roof adds style and elegance to any home design.
  • More natural light – Adding windows to an attic with a mansard roof is easier than with a gable roof, providing more light and air circulation. Many mansards are seen with dormer windows, which also add floor space.

Cons

  • Cost – A mansard roof costs more to install than other roof styles. And roofing companies will charge more to replace the roof due to its steepness and complexity.
  • Less resistant to precipitation – Depending on the mansard's slope, this roof style may not shed rain or snow as readily as a gable or hip roof. A mansard roof may be better suited to areas with an arid climate.

Do I want to buy a house with a mansard roof?

The labor cost to replace an average-size mansard roof is $2,640 to $4,914 more than a lower-pitch gable roof, depending on the scope of work and your location.

Barr said he would not buy a house with a mansard roof because it just invites problems. But if you have your heart set on one, he says, "I would have a roofer inspect it, not a home inspector."

Since roof pitch influences the cost of replacing a roof, and a mansard is practically vertical, Barr says replacing one is significantly more expensive. "For a mansard, renting and erecting scaffolding is always necessary," says Barr. Accessibility and all the safety precautions increase the cost.

The steepness also affects how the job is done. "Every shingle must be hand sealed, which adds considerable labor time," says Barr. "And roofers need to take extra care to line up each shingle so they appear level." This extra care adds to the costs.

Do I want to add a mansard roof to my home?

The cost to frame a mansard roof is $14 to $31 per square foot, depending on the scope of work and your location.

However, that cost does not include removing the existing roof, trusses, and other supports. Nor does it include the roof covering, soffit and fascia, or guttering system. If you're considering adding a mansard roof to your home for additional living space, you'll also need to include the cost to finish the space. Wiring, windows, walls, and flooring add to the expense. Typically, adding a finished addition to your home costs $100 to $300 per square foot. So, once all's said and done, the cost to add a mansard roof may exceed the expense of a ground-level expansion.

To get the most accurate cost comparisons for additional living space in your home, find a home remodeling designer near you.

Do I want a mansard roof on the home I'm building?

An average-size mansard roof costs $9,775 to $22,236 more than a traditional gable roof, depending on the scope of work and your location.

The roof style of new construction depends mainly on the architect's plans. If you're building a new home from the ground up, ask the architect to produce some renderings with different roof options. Also, discuss the limitations to expect with a mansard roof over a full second story. 

Would a mansard roof look right in my neighborhood?

The French may have made the mansard roof popular, but this roof type enhances many house styles and brings visual interest to any neighborhood. The mansard adds space and curb appeal, from farmhouse to row house to an old-world style home. Here are a few examples we found to prove the point.

A mansard roof gives a stone facade an old-world feel, fitting right into older neighborhoods with mature trees and ivy-covered walls.

Enhance the curb appeal and increase the attic space of your Victorian-style home with a concave mansard roof.

A straight-sided mansard facade on a single historic row house adds visual interest to the neighborhood.

A mansard roof complements the American farmhouse style found in this rural community.

Famous mansard roofs

If you think you've never seen a mansard roof in the wild, think again. The Louvre in Paris, the Chamber of Commerce of New York, and many commercial buildings include a mansard roof style.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a gambrel and a mansard?

Both gambrel and mansard roofs include two different slopes. But a gambrel roof only has two sides, and a mansard roof has four sides.

What's the difference between a mansard and a regular roof?

The most common roof style is the gable end roof. A gable roof includes two flat planes that meet at a peak or ridge. A mansard is four-sided with two planes per side. The top of a mansard is often closed with a flat roof.

Do you need a specialized contractor to build a mansard roof?

Once an architect designs and draws the blueprints for a mansard roof, any custom home builder should be able to build one for you.

Can I put solar panels on a mansard roof?

Absolutely. While the sides of a mansard are almost vertical, the upper planes have a low slope or are flat. You can install solar panels in that area.

What architectural style uses a mansard roof?

You can include a mansard roof on any style home. Looking around, you can find mansard roofs on farmhouses, row houses, and ranch-style homes.

Are there contractors near me who install mansard roofs?

Absolutely! Let us help you find a roofing company near you that installs or specializes in mansard roof replacement.

Written by

Carol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert

Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.