What's old is new again. In addition to musical tastes and clothing trends, this is often the case with certain architectural styles.
Today, the modern mansard roof is experiencing a comeback. The first known use of this roof style was in 1550 where it appeared on a portion of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The mansard roof derives its name from François Mansart, a French architect who favored the style and used it in many of his building designs.
Its unique style and aesthetic appeal led to its growth in popularity and spread into other countries, including England and Italy. Eventually, the style made its way to the US and Canada; it can be found on many historical buildings and throughout older cities.
What Is a Mansard Roof?
A mansard roof has four sides with two slopes, and the lower slope typically has a steeper pitch. Often, dormer windows are tied into the mansard roof, giving the building a distinctive appearance. The style can be either straight, convex, or concave, offering several options to complement the home's architectural design.
One of the reasons for the mansard roof's popularity is that it can transform typically unusable attic areas into functioning, livable spaces. This is because the design offers more headroom and the dormer windows bring in natural light.
The 1970s and 1980s saw a resurgence in mansard-style roofs in new construction, with the style appearing on apartment buildings and condos as a way to maximize space and capitalize on natural lighting. However, as these structures now need their roofs replaced, many owners are looking to modernize and enhance their properties' curb appeal.
What Is a Modern Mansard Roof?
The modern mansard roof is a new take on an old favorite. It may feature additional windows and use more contemporary roofing materials.
Gentrification of historic city areas has seen homeowners purchasing and renovating older homes—many of which feature mansard roofs. Some single-family homeowners who want to expand their living spaces have been adding mansard-style roofs to attics, which can help open the space without having to add another story.
While putting a new spin on this traditional roof style, many people have become interested in applying modern roofing solutions. A modern mansard roof may feature more architecturally appealing roofing materials, like GAF Timberline HDZ® shingles, which deliver both beauty and protection. Modernizing a mansard roof on an existing property may also include adding windows to the surface to help light up the interior space.
Design Appeal Can Be Found Inside, Too
In addition to apartment buildings and single-family homes, modern mansard roofs are increasingly appearing on tiny homes. These roofs can maximize the living space on the second floor, which is often used as a sleeping area in many of today's smaller homes.
Some people are also choosing mansard-style roofs in new construction because of the unique appeal they can add to a home's design. The loft area under the mansard roof can be designed with high windows, exposed beams, and natural wood accents to create a cozy additional space. This can be used for an office, a playroom, or a relaxing reading nook.
As with any roof style, mansard roofs have pros and cons, so talk to a professional roofing contractor who can help you determine if a mansard style is right for your home. They can also help you identify the right roofing materials if you're looking to modernize an existing mansard roof.