Few things immediately change a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make rooms warm and cozy. It can also impact the selling price of a home.
But what options do homeowners have when the style of your house makes it harder to bring natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style builds, 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 where dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions often 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 central elements of a loft project. While they may not always contain a window, the term "dormer" is regularly 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 room exactly how you planned it. Maybe it's a simple doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that creates extra area for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes 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 often fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being added. While the type of a dormer can often determine what space fits a window, most dormer styles can include any type of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types to use for each:
A modest 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 houses, the front of a gabled dormer appears as a mini-roof that rises to form a point at the top. It creates the look of a traditional doghouse. Inside the home, a doghouse dormer can offer 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 frequently on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style homes, hip roof dormers are built with 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 brings better defense against the elements.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are frequently found in hip roof dormers, pairing with the traditional look of the architectural style. Depending on the size of the dormer, multiple windows can be added.
Just as with the doghouse dormer, this dormer gets its name from having a shape similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes forward 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 install multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found installed on shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can create the most room in a house, the eyebrow dormer is used 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 the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque design styles commonly use eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can differ from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific needs. Custom-designed or curved windows are often the best choices for this kind of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If planning dormers to increase space in your home, make sure to review the same features you would find important for when purchasing other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To discover more about the best window for a new dormer or look for a replacement window for your existing dormer, call a Pella® professional today!