The roof is an important component of any building structure that essentially forms the topmost covering of the structure. The roof is the structural component that protects the entire structure from the various elements of weather such as rain, frost, hail etc. Due to the inevitable nature of roof in building construction, various types of roof have been developed and are used all over the world. One such important type of the roof is the Mansard Roof.
A Mansard roof can be defined as the four-sided gambrel style hip roof that essentially constitutes of two slopes on each of its sides with the lower slope, punctured by dormer windows, at a steeper angle than the upper. The steep mansard roof with the window creates an additional floor space that can be used for several purposes including the habitable purpose. The Mansard roof is also commonly referred to as the Curb roof or the French roof.
In a very simple sense, the Mansard roof is the hybrid of the hip roof and the gambrel roof. It also has additional unique characteristics that significantly distinguish it from the traditional gambrel roofs.
It is usually flattered in nature due to which the upper slope can be rarely seen from the ground, and it also provides maximum space underneath the roof. The shape of the Mansard roof can be varied depending upon the requirement of the users. Some of the common types of shape are convex, concave or straight-angled. The structure provided with this roofing style delivers a traditional look and is most commonly used in the barn houses. Due to the similarity between the Mansard and gambrel roofs, in Germany and France, both Mansard and gambrel roofs are referred to as Mansards. In common practice, two styles of the Mansard roofing are commonly adopted i.e. the steep-sided style and the double-pitched style.
Usually, the Mansard roof is constructed using the slate tiles and the shingles. These materials are readily available and also preserve the conventional vibe. It has been found that the shingles are used as the chief construction material when the key feature wanted is durability as well as to reduce the overall maintenance cost. On the other hand, the slate tiles are used in cases where the users prefer the conventional way of roofing.
History of Mansard Roof
The history of the Mansard roof dates back to around 1550. The earliest featured example of the Mansard roof is the roof built on the Louvre by Pierre Lescot in 1550. The advancement and the popularization of this roofing began only around 1600. The popularization of the Mansard roof was carried out by the famous French architect, Francois Mansart who used this distinctive style in many of his works. He greatly used his technique of Mansard roofing during the Baroque period (1600 – 1750) to create chateaus and grand townhouses which caught the eyes of the people. Hence, the term “Mansard” was also named after him.
Distinguishing Features of Mansard Roof
The two main distinguishing features of the Mansard roof are the steep sides and the double pitch. As the upper slope is mostly not visible from the ground, a traditional roof with a single plane and steep sides may be misidentified as a Mansard roof. The gambrel roofing systems usually used in the barns are also regarded as the close cousin of this roofing. Both the Mansard and Gambrel roofs are grouped in the category of the curb roof. Another distinctive trait of the Mansard roof is that it is a curb hip roof with slopes on all sides of the building.
Types of Mansard Roof
This roofing can be classified into two main types i.e. the double pitch Mansard roof and the steep sides Mansard roof. Usually, there exists only a slight difference between the two types. The steep sides Mansard roof mostly consist of a sharp point at the top of the roof. The design thus ensures even drainage from all the sides. On the other hand, the traditional double pitch Mansard roof can produce only reasonable drainage from the low pitch area of the roof.
Advantages of Mansard Roof
1. It provides extra usable space:
It offers the maximization of space in the building structure in a very convenient way because of virtually vertical slopes. The additional space provided by this roofing is greater than other popular roofing styles such as the Hip roofing or Gable roofing. The additional space provided by this roofing is large enough to accommodate even a master bedroom.
2. It is suitable for both rural and urban areas:
It is suitable for the roofing of the structures in both rural and urban areas as it fits well in any kind of property creating a usable space. It is commonly adopted in the urban area because of the provision of the additional usable space and also as it gives the option to expand upwardly.
3. It offers better heat and light distribution provisions:
One of the important advantages of using the Mansard roofing is that it offers a better distribution of the light and heat in the building structure. The construction of the dormer windows allows more light to enter into the building as well as facilitates the circulation of natural air within the building. The additional space or the garret formed with the use of Mansard roof also supports efficient and superior heat distribution which makes the building more comfortable for living.
4. It offers maximum flexibility in the incorporation of the modern design elements:
It is also flexible for the addition of new modern design elements. The blend of the modern design elements to the conventional Mansard roof increases the aesthetic appearance of the building. Nowadays, such combination is used extensively for the construction of the modernized buildings with a high-class appearance. Modern builders even make use of the insulation and special construction materials to construct the roofing which can last longer than other roofing.
5. It is economical:
It is great cost-saving roofing options for the users. This roofing not only offers the cost-saving options but also facilitate the reduction of the heating costs as it offers a better distribution of the heat in the building with proper shape and sealing.
If the framing is made of metal shingles, it increases the durability and also maximizes the sealing of the roof. The initial cost for the setup of the roofing may be high but it will save a lot of money for maintenance in the long run. The incorporation of the modern design elements to the Mansard roof also significantly reduces the overall maintenance cost of the building structure.
Disadvantages of Mansard Roof
1. Construction may pose challenges from Local Laws:
One of the major disadvantages of the Mansard roof is that there may be a significant difficulty while obtaining permits from the local bodies. There might be different requirements for getting a permit to use the Mansard style of roofing depending on the area. The taxes imposed may be different which are implemented in various locations as the Mansard roof add to the total square foot of the building.
It has been found that in some places the local building laws have set the restriction in the height of the building with the Mansard roofs to protect the structure from the structural failure and collapse. Thus, the local laws and regulations must be thoroughly understood before commencing the construction of the Mansard roof.
2. The installation cost is high and is a long involvement process:
In comparison to other roofing styles, the time required for the installation of this roofing is longer. The construction materials required as well as the human resources required are relatively higher. The installation process of the Mansard roof is also comparatively complex and requires the long term involvement of highly skilled professionals. On account of all these factors, the initial cost required for the installation and setup of the Mansard roof is high. Hence, the Mansard roof may not be a suitable option for the homeowners with the low construction budget.
3. It has low weather resistance properties:
It is not a desirable option in the areas that are subjected to extreme weather conditions such as regions receiving heavy rainfall or snowfall. The upper portion of this roofing is not ideal for resisting extreme weather conditions, as the rain and snow can accumulate in the flatter portion which may result in the leakage and dampening of the roof. Due to the flatter upper slope, the drainage system of the roof is not good enough.
4. The maintenance and repair cost is high:
Since they offer, low resistance to the extreme weather conditions, this type of roofing design requires frequent maintenance and repair to prevent further damage and structural failure. Thus, the maintenance and the repair costs of the Mansard roof is also comparatively higher. In the areas subjected to storms, the debris can accumulate on the upper flatter portion which when not cleared efficiently and quickly can cause serious damage to the entire structure.
Some of the examples of the famous buildings that are provided with the Mansard roofing style have been listed as follows:
1. Germania Insurance Building:
The Germania Insurance building located in New York is one of the most famous buildings with Mansard roofing. The building was constructed in 1911 and consists of a four-storey.
2. Boulevard Haussmann, Paris:
Many famous buildings with the Mansard roof in the Second French Empire forms have been constructed down this lane.
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