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The Pros and Cons of a Mansard Roof

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When it comes to roof styles, it’s hard to find anything as classy as a mansard roof.

Mansard roofs have French origins and are a very unique and complex style. In simple terms, a mansard roof can be described as a hipped-gambrel roof. The combination of these styles gives the roof an elegant façade that maximizes internal space. 

While there are significant benefits of a mansard roof, there are a few disadvantages to keep in mind that can affect how much your roof will cost you both now and in the future, whether it will be an asset or a liability when it’s time to sell, and how much trouble it may cause during it’s life.

Still trying to decide on a roof style for your home? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about mansard roofs.

Different Types of Roofs

When it comes to roof designs, there are tons of options to choose from.

types of roofs
Roof types labeled titles collection set with 3D examples for house building. House construction exterior shapes with educational and explanation shapes vector illustration. Architecture study handout

While the different designs can help add character to your home, there are four main styles that stand out from the rest. Here’s a quick look at these popular roof types.

Flat Roof

Flat commercial roof

Flat roofs are incredibly popular for commercial properties around the world. This is primarily because flat roofs are versatile, easy to install, and significantly cheaper to install on a large building.

Flat roofs are also energy efficient and work well in commercial buildings where access to the roof is critical to maintain HVAC units that are typically installed on the roof to save on interior space requirements.

On the other hand, the primary downside is that flat roofs don’t drain well which can lead to frequent leaks where precipitation levels are high (or – more accurately – where they’re not low). In a commercial setting, this downside generally doesn’t present the same risks to the interior of the building as they do in a residential installation, which is why the pros outweigh the cons for commercial installations.

Gable Roof

grey and black roof shingles of house

A gable roof is one of the most popular and economical roof styles. This type of roof consists of two sections that can meet in the middle at a peak. This kind of roof is incredibly versatile as it can withstand heavy rain and winds all around the world.

Hip Roof

hip roof
Close-up gray asbestos-cement wave sheet hip roof with zinced steel ridge and hip flashing on grey cloudy sky background.

As shown in the roof styles image above, there are a number of sub-styles of hip roof like like cross hipped or intersecting hip, a traditional hip roof is similar to a gable roof except the roof rises from all four walls.

Mansard Roof

mansard roof from germany

As mentioned above, a mansard roof is an incredibly elegant roof style. This roof style is essentially a hipped-gambrel roof that slopes on every side of the home. This gives the roof an elegant look that can elevate the entire façade of the property. 

This kind of roof is perfect for those who want to add more space to their attic. This is because the roof rises almost vertically. In addition to adding more space, adding dormer windows to a mansard roof allows more natural light and warmth into the space.

While this style does date back to early French architecture, its still incredibly popular around the world. And while it’s prized for its aesthetic appeal, it does offer a lot in terms of practicality. However, this style of roof does come with its fair share of challenges that you should know about before making your final decision.

Pros of Mansard Roofs

If you’re building a new home or remodeling your existing house and are trying to decide on the perfect roof style, here are a few benefits of choosing a mansard roof for your home.

1. Adds Tons of Usable Space

The most notable benefit of a mansard roof is that the roof itself can help expand your living space. This is because the roof style extends the home vertically, with a very slight slope at the top, turning your attic into just another floor of your home.

In this way, a mansard roof can be a great way to extend your home. Especially if you’re in a location where you don’t want to or are unable to expand horizontally, this roof helps you add space vertically.

Whether you want to use the extra space for a meditation room, a gym, an additional bedroom, or an in-law suite, installing a mansard roof is the perfect solution.

2. Elegant Design

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When it comes to roof designs, there aren’t many styles that come with the same vintage and elegance as a mansard roof. This style dates back to early French architecture and can help elevate the entire façade of your home. A mansard roof screams class, quite literally from the rooftops!

This unique design doesn’t just add prestige to your home, it can also help increase your property value.

3. Perfect for a Dormer Window 

If you’re looking to add dormer windows to your home, mansard roofs are an ideal choice. This is because the vertical rise of the roof lends itself perfectly to installing dormer windows. The incredibly steep slope on the roof allows the dormer window to act almost like a standard window on the inside while providing the sophisticated look of a dormer window from the exterior, giving you the best of both worlds.

Dormer windows cap off the mansard roof style by making the interior space look and feel more comfortable. With this combination, you wont even know that you’re in the attic as it would feel like any other room or floor in the house.

4. Better Heat and Light Distribution

Dormer windows don’t just make the attic look like part of the home, they can also help the roof become more practical. This is because the windows can help let light and heat into the space. The added light can make the space feel bigger while the heat can reduce your homes reliance on its heating system.

In this way, you can actually save money every month on your energy bills

Cons of Mansard Roofs

Mansard roofs may look amazing, but they come with a few challenges as well. Here are a few cons of mansard roofs that you should know about.

1. Poor Weather Resistance

While mansard roofs are stunning to look at, they are not made for durability. A steep pitch on the edge of the roof means a very gentle pitch from side-to-side, making it more difficult for snow, rain, and debris to slide off. This means that if your area experiences a lot of precipitation throughout the year, other roof styles will likely offer more longevity by providing superior drainage.

While the top of a mansard roof is generally not flat, the low angle can still end up holding onto debris and snow during the colder months of the year. These then can act as a dam to keep rain or melting snow on the roof longer than would be desirable. This is an important disadvantage to take into consideration before deciding on the roof you want for your home.

2. Complicated to Build

Building a mansard roof is not as simple as other roof types. This is because the unique design may require special permits and permissions from local authorities. Getting permission for your roof can cost both time and money, complicating the entire process.

Mansard roof with dormer windows

3. Expensive to Install

Another important disadvantage to keep in mind about mansard roofs is that they are expensive to build. A mansard roof is incredibly complex. They contain multiple different pitch angles and / or curves, often with dormers that need to be tied into each of them.

Because of this, the roof is not as simple to build, uses a lot more material, results in more waste, and takes significantly more time in install than a standard roof. All of this equates to more dollars.

4. Costly To Maintain

As mentioned above, a mansard roof installation is complex. While the result is something unique and elegant the additional costs extend further than just the installation.

As outlined above, the potential for weather damage is higher with this roof style, meaning more frequent repairs. During a repair, the complications added by this roof style mean each of those repairs is likely to cost more than they would on a standard roof.

How To Decide on the Right Roof for Your Home

Finding the right roof for your home is incredibly important as it defines the style and can add a ton of practicality to your home. Mansard roofs are great choice if you want to use your attic as another living space, can afford the extra costs involved, and live in an area where the potential for maintenance and weather issues is low.

Mansard roofs are by far the most elegant choice for your home. While these roofs may not be ideal for the weather conditions on Long Island, they are perfect for making the most of your attic space.

If you’re unsure whether or not a mansard roof is a good choice for your home renovation or extension and need a bit of help deciding on the exact roof you want for your home, contact us! Our team of experienced professionals will help you design the perfect roof for your Long Island home.

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