Few things immediately impact a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make living spaces warm and cozy. It can also impact the selling price of a home.
But what can you do when the style of your house makes it more challenging to bring 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 space.
That’s where dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions commonly used to add usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are usually small in total area but can provide additional square footage as one of the central elements of a loft remodel. While they may not always contain a window, the term "dormer" is commonly used to describe a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can create those few additional square feet of area you need to make your room exactly how you want it. Maybe it's a simple 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 internally. Dormers are a great remedy for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different styles of dormers. American homes mostly fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being created. While the shape of a dormer can often determine what space can hold a window, most dormer styles can handle any type of window. Here’s a look at the most frequently used dormer styles and the window types to use for each:
A simple and relatively small architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can offer extra light and space inside a loft area. Found on many styles of houses, 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 structure, 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 specific shape, gabled dormers often are best suited with a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found frequently on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style buildings, hip roof dormers are built with three converging roof sides with a window in the front. Though the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer decrease some of the space inside the home, this style provides better defense against weather.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are often 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 added.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this type gets its name from having a form similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes down 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: With the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to install many windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found placed in shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can add the most added area in a home, the eyebrow dormer is used mainly for decorative purposes or creating alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer provides no sides and features a curved roof that gives it its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque home styles commonly use eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can vary from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific style. Custom-designed or curved windows are frequently the best choices for this style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows provide 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 find important 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, get in touch with a Pella® professional today!