What Is a Mansard Roof?

The mansard roof is a cross between hip roofs that have angles on all four sides and gambrel roofs that have two angled roof sections on two sides. A mansard roof has a distinct and old-world quality.

What Is a Mansard Roof

The mansard roof has two slopes on every side, the bottom slope pitched at a sharper angle than the upper slope. Like the hip roof, the mansard roof is four sided.


  • Aesthetic appeal – Mansard roofs have an elegant style that is reminiscent of French architecture. Also, they are unique in today’s world of gable roofs.
  • Extra space – This roofing style allows you to expand your interior space in the attic areas. You can use this attic space for regular sized rooms because of the flatter upper slope better than with gable roofs.
  • Heating costs – There is better heat distribution with rooms built into the attic space than with gable roofs. These roofs cut down heating costs by distributing heat evenly throughout the room.
  • Natural light – With the addition of dormer windows there is more natural light and better ventilation in attic spaces. Large windows are much easier to install in a mansard roof than a gable roof.


  • Weather resistance – The upper panel of the mansard roof has a very low pitch which makes it less weather resistant than other roofs. For example heavy rainfall or snow can accumulate on the flatter portion of the roof creating future problems like leakages and the dislodging of shingles. In addition, most of these roofs have a poor drainage system.
  • High installation cost – These roofs are out of the ordinary and will have high installation costs compared to other types of roofing styles.
  • High repair costs – These roofs require high maintenance and the repair costs are more compared with other roof types.
  • Permitting difficulty – Many locations require special permits to construct this type of roof. Not all areas will grant one.

Mansard Roof vs. Gambrel Roof

Mansard Roof vs Gambrel Roof

ShapeTwo slopes on each side (lower steep, upper shallow)Two slopes on each side (both steep)
HistoryOriginated in 17th-century FranceCommon in European and American architecture
Roof ProfileCharacterized by a nearly flat top and steep sidesFeatures two slopes on each side with a break in the middle
Usable SpaceProvides more usable space in the attic due to the steep slopesOffers ample space in the attic, suitable for storage or living areas
AestheticsOften considered elegant and traditionalCan have a charming, barn-like appearance
Materials and ConstructionMay require more complex construction and materialsSimpler construction compared to Mansard
PopularityCommon in historic buildings, especially in urban areasOften used in barns, farmhouses, and colonial-style homes
DrainageGood drainage due to the steep slopesAdequate drainage, but water may pool in the central break
Fun FactThe term "Mansard" is derived from the French architect François Mansart, who popularized the styleThe Gambrel Roof is often associated with traditional American barns and Dutch Colonial architecture

Gambrel roof architecture is similar to a gable roof in that it has an angled roof on two sides of the house, but the gambrel roof has two slopes on each side rather than one.

While this roofing style is not common, you can see a gambrel roof on barn houses. A mansard roof has the same two angles on each side of the roof, but it has a roof on four sides of the house rather than two sides like a gambrel roof.

Mansard Roof: A Brief History and Explanation of Terms

A Brief History and Explanation of Terms
Buffalo Homes

The mansard roof style is an example of how architectural design is important for both form and function. This roof style, also called a curb roof or a French roof, takes its name after Francois Mansart, a famous French architect. However, he popularized the style rather than invented it. 

The first documented use of the mansard roof was in 1546 by Pierre Lescot on the south-west wing of the Louvre museum. This roof structure became more popular in the 17th century and then again during the Second Empire under the rule of Napoleon III in France.

Mansard roofs became an important signifier of French architecture.

Tower house
Walker Zanger

This roof style gained popularity in Canada and the United States and many other western countries throughout the years.

The most important reason that this roof style was so valued was because of the extra attic space that it added. The mansard-style roof allows more head space in the attic. It was a good roof option in both rural and urban areas; however, in urban settings it was valued because it allowed vertical expansion of space without the need to increase land use.

While many acknowledge that it works well in many architectural designs, this type of roof has waned in the current day.

Types of Mansard Roofs

Types of Mansard Roofs

There are four types of the most common mansard roof designs.

  • Straight  – This mansard roof type has a long, almost vertical lower slope and a small top slope. This upper slope cannot always be seen from the ground level. Many roofs in this style have the addition of dormer windows to allow natural light and ventilation into the upper floor.
  • Convex  – With this style mansard roof, the lower slope curves outward. This style resembles the curve of a bell shape. This adds a great deal of extra space in the attic rooms.
  • Concave – This roof has a flat upper slope and a steep lower slope that curves inward. This style does not lend as much space as the other mansard styles, but it has a long architectural heritage as it was used in historic mansions and buildings.
  • S-shape  – This is a combination of the convex and concave style roof lines. The roof begins by curving inward and finishes by curving outward.

Homes with Mansard Roofs

The mansard roof type is unique among roofing styles. It has a stately beauty and design that set it apart. In addition, it allows the greater development of interior space. We have rounded up some amazing pictures of mansard roofs, both the exterior and interior spaces.

Concave mansard roof

Concave mansard roof
Your Historic House

This large historic home has an elegant and classic style. Many architects combine mansard roofs with other roof features like this one with the cut out for the window. This roof has several large windows to increase light in the loft area.

Straight mansard roof

Straight mansard roof
Old House Online

The straight mansard style featured on this cottage has a small upper slope that is not visible from the street level. While this shape might not have the inherent elegance of the more rounded mansard styles, it is a practical way to increase the room in your extra floor.

Convex mansard roof

Convex mansard roof

This style roof offers the extra space of a straight mansard style roof and the elegance of the rounded form.

Modern mansard roofs

Modern mansard roofs
The Modern Digest

While you might be justified in considering the mansard roof a historic style that isn’t used much today, there are still modern renditions of the style. Consider this remodel of a Georgetown residence. The straight mansard roof allows the addition of large windows that add more symmetry and additional space to the home.

Mansard Interiors

Expansion of the interior spaces are one of the best reasons for a mansard roof. When you add a mansard roof, you are not limited in what you can put in the additional living space from a master bedroom to bright artists studios.

Mountain chalet

What Is a Mansard Roof
What Is a Mansard Roof

In this chalet from design alpino, they have expanded the living space under the mansard roof. They finished the ceiling with exposed beams and used organic elements like stone walls to create continuity with the outside world.

Office in an upper loft

What Is a Mansard Roof

In addition, people use the extra square footage space for an office. Notice the large skylights on the flat roof. This space is so bright and light, it is also perfect for an artist’s studio or bedroom.

Cozy hangout

What Is a Mansard Roof

If you don’t need more bedrooms or office space, use the area under the mansard as a cozy hang-out for the whole family. The sectional fits well under the exposed beams to give the whole design an integrated look.  Bo-design created this space.

Modern loft apartment

What Is a Mansard Roof
What Is a Mansard Roof

The massive windows in this modern loft space set the tone of the stunning style of this space. The designers used glass dividers to separate the area while still allowing it to feel open.

Living suite

What Is a Mansard Roof
What Is a Mansard Roof
What Is a Mansard Roof

This modern loft living space features everything you need in a personal living area. This design, created by raca-architekc, features a bedroom area, office, seating area and bathroom. The tall windows give the whole area a sense of space and light. The warm wood ceiling adds texture to the overall neutral color scheme.

Multi-faceted ceiling

What Is a Mansard Roof

The geometric angles of the ceiling paired with the minimalist style furniture and color palette make this space striking. The many windows and skylights mean that this space will never feel dark and dreary like many attic spaces.