Few touches immediately change a room like natural light. Added natural light does more than just make living spaces warm and cozy. It can also increase the resale value of a home.
But what can you do 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 homes, a remodeling job might aim to turn a windowless attic into a new living space.
That’s where dormers are helpful. 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 conversion. While they may not always include 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 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 room for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes your home’s outside 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 tend to 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 decide what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can include any type of window. Here’s a look at the most recognized dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A simple and relatively small architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can add extra light and space inside a loft area. Found on many styles of homes, 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 offer additional functionality, such as a space right for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their particular shape, gabled dormers often need 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. Though the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer decrease some of the space inside the home, this style brings better defense against the elements.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are most commonly found in hip roof dormers, matching the traditional look of the architectural style. Depending on the size of the dormer, multiple windows can be placed.
Similar to the doghouse dormer, this type takes its name from having a look 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: Because of the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to add many windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found installed on shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can create the most space in a home, the eyebrow dormer is added mainly for decorative purposes or building 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 often 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 look. Custom-designed or curved windows are frequently the suitable choices for this kind of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to improve space in your house, make sure to review the same features you would prioritize for when purchasing other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To find out more about the perfect window for a new dormer or find a replacement window for your existing dormer, call a Pella® professional today!