What to do with a Mansard Roof?

30 Replies

I found a really ugly house today. Going for half the price per square foot of the rest of the houses in the area. Huge potential, but one of the limiting factors is the Mansard Roof.

Have you ever purchased a house and changed this roof? What did you do? Would love "after" pics.

Style the rest of the house French to match the roof? I’ve never bought a house with a Mansard roof, but love a good challenge...do you have pics?

It can be done with architectural shingles made just for that type of roof. There's also metal roofing that you can use instead, both the shingle-type and the standing seam type. I personally think the shingle style metal looks the best but any of them will work. 

Are those wood shingles? I think it would look a million times better with a grey asphalt shingle. Beyond that, I would totally go French Provençal. Painted white brick (if it’s a flip), operable wooden shutters, landscaping etc. I think it could actually be a pretty nice looking house! Now, those under-sized garage dormers are an issue, but you can only do so much... :)

@Mindy Jensen I'm of the opposite opinion of @Jen R. and would only consider the purchase if you're considering keeping the look as is with cedar shingles since they add most of the character of the home. I guarantee you that plenty of people like the way it looks except for the fact that the roof is in need of replacement. 

Unfortunately, as you are probably aware, insurance companies out here along the front range DO NOT LIKE CEDAR SHINGLES. You're asking for a difficult time finding reasonable insurance if the roof is kept cedar. 

All that said, you may want to pass on it, especially if the rest of the roof behind it is flat rather than sloped. 

Perhaps you should plug a picture of the house into the certa pro home paint application which is pretty easy to work with and play with the roof color just to give yourself an idea of what asphalt would look like. You may have to look at it cross-eyed for best results being it's a roof rather than the siding/brick. 

Side note: if you did buy it and found yourself replacing the windows, I'd opt for a side by side style for the dormers/second story windows rather than the horizontally split windows... they just don't look right.

Good luck with that one; you owe us after pictures if you end up buying it! 

I don't have pictures,  but two houses in my old neighborhood completely removed the shingles on the vertical planes and added siding.  It changes the windows as well.  These were roughly 2300 s.f. houses.  Both jobs were about $25K including windows and repainting the entire house.  (I would walk my dog past these homes and ask questions since I had a Dutch Colonial and would have liked to do the same.  Could never get husband on board.  Have since sold the house.)

Mindy,

 get rid of the wood roof and install and asphalt roof that looks like slate, this will make the roof look a million times better. the other option is to tear off the mansard and side the upper part, there will not be any brick under that.

That’s a nice place ! As other mentioned I’d lose the cedar shingles . I’d replace with architectural dark brown style shingles ( Owens Corning brown wood) . Add tasteful shutters and This would really look good and have a classic charm to it

As an architect I like the style on mansard roofs if they are done correctly. This one is not and it clear because most people will find it ugly looking. The two best things you can do, in my opinion, is to replace the cedar shingles with a high quality asphalt shingle that is not your typical rectangular shape. Pick a nice elegant looking shape/style the plays nicely with its intents of the French Mansard. Do a quick google search and you'll find plenty of examples. The second thing is you need to dress up those windows. If you look at any pictures of French Mansards you will see, that the good ones, don't treat the windows as an after thought that american builds tend to do. They are beautifully ornate with lots of trim and a decorative header. Now I'm not suggestion you go all out and spend five grand on every window in trim. But leaving it plain and simple makes it worse. Dress it up and make it look apart of the architectural style and not an after thought. 

There are plenty of options but doing those two things will drastically improve the look and desirability of the house. And with everything you can pinch pennies are spend a fortune so just make sure to spend what fits in your budget. Long story short, don't be scared off by the mansard, there are lots of options to make it work.

PS: If you get a roofer to do the work they might try and charge you extra for working a steep pitched roof. This application is more attune to siding than roofing. Just something to be aware of.

Having owned a property with a mansard roof, I can tell you from experience that its not the mansard sides that are the problem, but the flat roof behind them. Flat roofs are just maintance nightmares waiting to happen. 

One problem you will face by using asphalt shingles is how to do you transition to the top portion of the roof that is flat.  Asphalt shingles require a 3:12 pitch to drain and  maintain weathertight warranty.  Yes, you can install them on a lower slope but you will void the warranty. This roof will not have a 3:12 pitch, I bet.  At this point you need a to use a "Standing Seam Metal roof" that allows for  1/2":12" or 1":12" roof pitches.   You may need to use a "structural" standing seam vs an "architectural" type of standing seam roof system.  An architectural type is a push/snap on rib closure system vs a folded seam.

Assuming the raked area doesn't leak, here's the most simple solution...

IT LOOKS UGLY BECAUSE OF THE COLOR COMBINATION...

simply match a taupe color to the overall tone of the existing shingles and paint that dated red brick! Use black and white trim (white trim/ black doors) or vice versa and you will be in 2018 color territory!

I've repositioned properties for 40 years, and saved clients millions..as most restyling projects are putting worse cover ups over dated elements. think COLOR first..your easier and cheaper solution!

Originally posted by @Jim Adrian :

One problem you will face by using asphalt shingles is how to do you transition to the top portion of the roof that is flat.  Asphalt shingles require a 3:12 pitch to drain and  maintain weathertight warranty.  Yes, you can install them on a lower slope but you will void the warranty. This roof will not have a 3:12 pitch, I bet.  At this point you need a to use a "Standing Seam Metal roof" that allows for  1/2":12" or 1":12" roof pitches.   You may need to use a "structural" standing seam vs an "architectural" type of standing seam roof system.  An architectural type is a push/snap on rib closure system vs a folded seam.

 You are correct about asphalt shingles needing to be 3:12 or greater slope but the transition to a flat roof is not as hard as it appears and is a very common detail in construction. Most roofing manufactures have details for this condition. Most mansard roofs actually do not have a flat roof on the top, especially in single family houses. It is common in larger commercial and multi-family buildings though. But in those situations the transition is handled by using a parapet wall. So the peak of the shingle roof is at least 8" above the flat roof. The flat roof is also almost always going to be a single-ply membrane material not a standing seam roof because its much cheaper and no one is ever going to see this part of the roof except if you're standing on it. 

And for anyone that doesn't know when flat roofs are not actually flat. There's usually a minimum slope of 1/4" of 1/2" per foot. FYI