A traditional French tile roof is often referred to as a mansard roof. This style is characterized by its hips rather than valleys, though depending on the design, it may include valleys as well. One of the largest benefits to a mansard roof is the extra space it adds in the attic area to create more living or storage space.
The mansard roof grew in popularity in France in the mid-1800s under Napoleon III, becoming known as Second Empire style, but they were popular long before that as they offered a tax break for French homeowners. According to The 99% Invisible City by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlsted, “In 1973, Paris implemented a twenty-meter (roughly sixty-five feet) restriction on building heights, but with it came with a crucial caveat: this limit was based on measuring up to the cornice line, not the roof zone above.”
The additional space that the mansard roof provided was technically “attic” space, but because of its steep slope, it provided space underneath for a living area, giving the French a tax break while simultaneously creating more living space.
Mansard roofs can feature straight hips or create additional architectural interest with convex, concave, or s-shaped hips. French style roofs are also characterized by dormers set into the roof that allow light to enter the interior of the home.
Beginning in the late 1800s, the French style roof made its way to America and can be seen in various government buildings including the Old Post office in St. Louis and Philadelphia City Hall. Domestic mansards quickly became popular and ranged from ornate to simple, but in each case, they created more livable space and a dramatic appearance.
1. Simple French Style
For all the architectural interest that a mansard roof brings to the exterior of a home, it is often set atop a simple brick structure. Slate is a traditional material for a French tile roof, but while beautiful, slate comes with a range of downsides, including its weight and tendency to chip or flake over time, and upon impact.
Composite French roof tiles, however, enhance the aesthetics of a French tile roof without the downsides of traditional materials.
2. French Style With Added Charm
French roof styles can be simple, but they can also include other features like this silo style roof with multiple hips and a concave profile. French slate tiles and stone work feature prominently in this design and enhance the feel of elegance and Old World charm.
3. Dormers Welcome Natural Light
Another advantage of a mansard roof is that it allows for the addition of dormers on each of its four sides, as opposed to a gable or gambrel roof that only has two roof lines. Dormers can be small or large depending on the amount of natural light that is desired in the space. This design features a large dormer on one side of the roof to create even more living space and allow light to flood the space.
4. Connect The Roof Line
This structure draws further from the French tile roof style by incorporating columns and imposing stone chimneys. The design of a mansard roof also allows them to be connected to each other as seen on the garage roof. Because there are four sides, connections can be made on any side of the roof.
5. Add Detail With Shutters
French style homes often do without shutters, but adding shutters to the windows adds an additional detail and architectural element to the home.
6. Create A Strong And Stately Facade
Strong and stately, French style roofs traditionally created an imposing facade by incorporating projecting towers, cornice and fascia work, arches, and iron cresting.
Today’s French style roofs can create a similar impression by incorporating brick and stone elements along with varying window shapes. This French tile roof features slate roofing tile that complements the variety of colors in the brick and stone work which carries a sense of movement and interest throughout the entire exterior.
Achieve A French Style Roof With Brava
Brava Old World Slate allows you to achieve a French style roof with ease along with the peace of mind that a 50-year warranty brings. Composite French tile roofs cost a fraction of traditional slate roof tiles and don’t require the substructure modifications that are necessary to hold the weight of quarried slate roofing.
With 10 slate colors to choose from, you can recreate the look of natural slate while simultaneously tailoring it to the aesthetic and design of the building. You can also request a sample of our tiles that are manufactured from 100%-recycled material to see and feel the difference.
Contact the experts at Brava today to see why Brava is a top choice for homeowners who want to recreate a French tile look without the high cost and downsides of traditional slate.