Few things immediately influence a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also improve the resale value of a home.
But what happens when the style of your house makes it harder to add natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style houses, for example, often don’t have a full second story. In other homes, a remodeling job might aim to turn a windowless attic into a new living area.
That’s when dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions frequently used to bring usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can create additional square footage as one of the primary elements of a loft project. While they may not always contain a window, the term "dormer" is regularly used to refer to a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can create those few additional square feet of freedom you need to make your room exactly how you want it. Maybe it's a modest doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that creates extra room for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes your home’s outside while creating additional space inside. Dormers are a great idea for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different types of dormers. American homes tend to fall into two common styles, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being created. While the style of a dormer can often dictate what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can use any design of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types to use for each:
A basic and relatively minor architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can offer extra light and space inside a loft area. Common on many styles of homes, the front of a gabled dormer appears as a mini-roof that rises to end in a point at the top. It creates the appearance of a traditional doghouse. Inside the house, a doghouse dormer can bring additional functionality, such as a space right for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their particular shape, gabled dormers often need a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found commonly on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style buildings, hip roof dormers consist of three converging roof sides with a window in the front. While the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer impact some of the space inside the room, this style offers better defense against the elements.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are most commonly found in hip roof dormers, reflecting the traditional look of the home’s style. Depending on the size of the dormer, multiple windows can be installed.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this style gets its name from having a shape similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes forward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the building’s roof, shed dormers are commonly found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Because of the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to place multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found placed in shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can create the most added area in a house, the eyebrow dormer is added mainly for decorative purposes or creating alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer provides no sides and consists of a curved roof that gives it its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque home styles often add eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can differ from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific needs. Custom-designed or curved windows are frequently the best choices for this type of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows bring your home more than just curb appeal. If placing dormers to improve space in your home, make sure to consider the same features you would identify for when buying other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the best window for a new dormer or find a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!