Few things immediately change a room like natural light. Added natural light does more than just make rooms warm and cozy. It can also increase the selling price of a home.
But what options do homeowners have when the style of your house makes it more challenging to get natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style builds, 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 room.
That’s when dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions often used to add usable space in a loft and create window options 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 project. While they may not always contain a window, the term "dormer" is usually used to refer to 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 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 enhances your home’s exterior while creating additional space indoors. Dormers are a great solution 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 built. While the style of a dormer can often dictate what space fits a window, most dormer styles can handle any design of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A simple and relatively smaller architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can bring extra light and space inside a loft area. Seen on many styles of homes, the front of a gabled dormer looks like a mini-roof that rises to create a point at the top. It creates the look of a traditional doghouse. Inside the house, 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 unique shape, gabled dormers often require a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found often on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style buildings, 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 take away some of the space inside the house, this style provides better defense against the elements.
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 installed.
Just as with the doghouse dormer, this type receives 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 home’s roof, shed dormers are frequently found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Because of the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to add many windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found placed in shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can add the most room in a living space, the eyebrow dormer is used mainly for decorative purposes or creating alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer offers no sides and consists of a curved roof that gives the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque home styles frequently use eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can be unique from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific needs. Custom-designed or curved windows are frequently the best choices for this style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If placing dormers to add space in your room, make sure to look at the same features you would identify for when investing in other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To discover more about the perfect window for a new dormer or consider a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!