The mansard roof is a kind of freestanding roof with two flat sides, usually at 90 degrees, flaring out at right angles to each other. It is called a gambrel roof because of the shape in which it is designed. It was primarily built in France and the rest of Europe in the eighteenth century and immediately became hugely popular, being used for everything from shacks and gables to mansions. While the gambrel roof has become almost ubiquitous in Western culture today, there is an interesting story behind its creation that is well worth exploring. In fact, the shape of the mansard roof has a lot to do with the way the name got its name.
Historically, the term was actually used to describe the flat roof of the same name. But because the roof was so popular, and there were so many different kinds, the word gradually came to be applied to the different types of roofing materials used. While most roofs have four horizontal slats, a mansard has only three, with a lower slope and a top (or forward slope) that is longer than the others. The design variations extend to the number of slats. One variation is to have no slats at all, which is known as an open roof or flat roof.
Another variation of the mansard style is called the gable fronted roof, which is essentially a raised frame with a single ridge and a single side facing the interior space. This has the effect of turning the roof into a ‘zero’ grade plane, where the slope is zero and all sides are parallel to the slope. It also makes the attic access directly from the exterior of the house. Because of this, it is good for use with any kind of attic extension, such as gable fronted mansions or multi-bay or east and west facades.
A final variation of the mansard style, which also has its origins in the French roof styles, is the gambrel-style roof, which has a single ridge with four side angles and a single top. This roof design is suitable for any area where a flat roof or curb roof would not be practical, since it has plenty of slope to provide the required stability. It’s most famous use is in the roof of the historic Mayfair apartments in London.
Other types of roofs are more complicated and involve a few more elements. The two-sloped gable roof is similar to the mansard style in that it has four sides angled according to a 90-degree angle. This provides the roof with more slope for stability, but also means that water will run off on either side. It also means that there are not as many flat areas on the roof for rainwater drainage. In order to keep the water off the flat areas, the roof is pitched. This pitch can either be sloping away from the building or flat depending on how you like things.
Both flat roofs and mansard roofs require high maintenance and regular attention to detail, especially in the case of the flat roofs. mansard roofs are extremely popular in areas of high rainfall because the steep pitch provides excellent protection against heavy rains, snow and ice, as well as the wind. However, the steepness of the pitch can make it very expensive to have it replaced, and also very difficult to repair in the event of damage. The steepness of the pitch may also be very difficult to deal with if it adds an additional height restriction to the building.