Few touches immediately influence a room like natural light. Added natural light does more than just make living spaces warm and cozy. It can also impact the curb appeal of a home.
But what options do homeowners have when the style of your house makes it more challenging to add natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style builds, for example, often don’t have a full second story. In other homes, a remodeling job might look to turn a windowless attic into a new living space.
That’s when dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions commonly used to bring usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are often small in total area but can result in additional square footage as one of the primary elements of a loft project. While they may not always feature a window, the term "dormer" is regularly used to indicate a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can provide those few additional square feet of area you need to make your loft exactly how you envision it. Maybe it's a modest doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that opens extra area for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes your home’s curb appeal while creating additional space inside. Dormers are a great solution for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different variations of dormers. American homes tend to fall into two common designs, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being built. While the style of a dormer can often decide what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can include any design of window. Here’s a look at the most frequently used dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A simple and relatively minor architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can bring extra light and space inside a loft area. Found on many styles of homes, the front of a gabled dormer appears as a mini-roof that rises to create a point at the top. It creates the shape of a traditional doghouse. Inside the home, a doghouse dormer can create additional functionality, such as a space suited for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their unique shape, gabled dormers often need a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found frequently on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style houses, hip roof dormers consist of three converging roof sides with a window in the front. While the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer decrease some of the space inside the home, this style provides better defense against the elements.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are often found in hip roof dormers, reflecting the traditional look of the architectural style. Depending on the size of the dormer, many windows can be placed.
Just as with the doghouse dormer, this type takes its name from having a look similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes downward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the home’s roof, shed dormers are often found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Due to the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to install multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found installed on shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can add the most space in a home, the eyebrow dormer is added mainly for decorative purposes or developing alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer has no sides and features a curved roof that gives this dormer its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural styles commonly use eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can be unique 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 style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows bring your home more than just curb appeal. If placing dormers to increase space in your room, make sure to review the same features you would prioritize for when buying other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To discover more about the right window for a new dormer or look for a replacement window for your existing dormer, get in touch with a Pella® professional today!