Few touches immediately influence a room like natural light. Added natural light does more than just make rooms welcoming and cozy. It can also increase the resale value of a home.
But what happens when the style of your house makes it harder to get natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style homes, for example, often don’t have a full second story. In other cases, a remodeling job might look to turn a windowless attic into a new living space.
That’s why dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions frequently used to increase usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are often small in total area but can provide 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 commonly used to indicate a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can create those few additional square feet of area you need to make your loft 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 space for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes your home’s curb appeal while creating additional space indoors. Dormers are a great idea for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different types of dormers. American homes mostly fall into two common styles, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being added. While the style of a dormer can often dictate what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can use any style of window. Here’s a look at the most frequently used dormer styles and the window types to use for each:
A modest and relatively smaller 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 looks like a mini-roof that rises to end in a point at the top. It creates the appearance of a traditional doghouse. Inside the home, a doghouse dormer can bring additional functionality, such as a space ideal for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their particular shape, gabled dormers often are best suited with a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found commonly on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style buildings, 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 impact some of the space inside the room, this style brings better defense against the elements.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are often found in hip roof dormers, matching the traditional look of the architectural style. Depending on the size of the dormer, many windows can be placed.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this type receives 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 home’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 place numerous windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found installed on shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can add the most room in a house, the eyebrow dormer is built mainly for decorative purposes or creating alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer offers no sides and is highlighted by a curved roof that gives this dormer its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque home styles often 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 suitable choices for this type of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows bring your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to increase space in your house, make sure to consider the same features you would find important for when buying other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To discover more about the perfect window for a new dormer or look for a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!