Few touches immediately change a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also increase the curb appeal of a home.
But what options do homeowners have when the style of your house makes it difficult 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 add usable space in a loft and create window space in a roof plane. Dormers are usually 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 usually used to indicate a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can add those few additional square feet of freedom you need to make your loft exactly how you envision it. Maybe it's a basic doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that provides extra room for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that adds style to your home’s exterior while creating additional space internally. Dormers are a great solution for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different styles of dormers. American homes tend to fall into two common designs, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being created. While the type of a dormer can often determine what space can hold a window, most dormer styles can include any style of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types ideal for each:
A basic and relatively small 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 bring additional functionality, such as a space suited for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their particular shape, gabled dormers often require a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found commonly on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style houses, hip roof dormers are built with three converging roof sides with a window in the front. Although the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer take away some of the space inside the house, this style brings better defense against the elements.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are frequently found in hip roof dormers, matching the traditional look of the home’s style. Depending on the size of the dormer, many windows can be installed.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this dormer receives its name from having a form similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes forward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the house’s roof, shed dormers are frequently found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: With the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to place multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found placed in shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can create the most space in a home, the eyebrow dormer is used mainly for decorative purposes or building 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 design styles frequently feature eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can vary from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific needs. Custom-designed or curved windows are commonly the best choices for this type of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows provide your home more than just curb appeal. If placing dormers to improve space in your house, make sure to consider the same features you would find important for when purchasing other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the best window for a new dormer or consider a replacement window for your existing dormer, get in touch with a Pella® professional today!