Few touches immediately impact a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also improve the resale value of a home.
But what can you do when the style of your house makes it difficult 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 situations, a remodeling job might look to turn a windowless attic into a new living area.
That’s where dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions commonly used to bring 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 main elements of a loft conversion. While they may not always include a window, the term "dormer" is regularly used to describe 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 planned 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 adds style to 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 types of dormers. American homes often fall into two common styles, 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 ideal for each:
A modest 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. Common on many styles of homes, the front of a gabled dormer can be identified by a mini-roof that rises to end in 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 specific shape, gabled dormers often require 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 provides better defense against high winds.
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, numerous windows can be added.
Similar to the doghouse dormer, this type gets its name from having a look 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 install multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found added to shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can add the most room in a home, the eyebrow dormer is used mainly for decorative purposes or developing 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 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 style. Custom-designed or curved windows are often the best choices for this type of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to increase space in your home, make sure to look at the same features you would prioritize for when purchasing other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the perfect window for a new dormer or find a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!