Few things immediately influence a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make living spaces inviting and cozy. It can also increase the curb appeal of a home.
But what options do homeowners have when the style of your house makes it difficult 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 cases, a remodeling job might plan to turn a windowless attic into a new living space.
That’s when dormers are helpful. Dormers are small additions frequently used to bring usable space in a loft and create window space 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 refer to a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can provide those few additional square feet of area you need to make your loft exactly how you want it. Maybe it's a basic 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 enhances your home’s outside while creating additional space indoors. Dormers are a great remedy for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different styles 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 shape of a dormer can often decide what space can hold a window, most dormer styles can handle any design of window. Here’s a look at the most frequently used dormer styles and the window types ideal for each:
A basic and relatively minor 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 dwellings, 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 look of a traditional doghouse. Inside the structure, a doghouse dormer can create 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 homes, hip roof dormers consist of three converging roof sides with a window in the front. Although the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer take away some of the space inside the room, this style provides better defense against high winds.
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 added.
Just as with the doghouse dormer, this type takes its name from having a form similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes downward 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 frequently found added to shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can bring the most room in a home, the eyebrow dormer is added mainly for decorative purposes or developing alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer has no sides and is highlighted by a curved roof that gives this dormer its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque design styles commonly add 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 look. Custom-designed or curved windows are often the best choices for this style 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 find important for when buying other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the best window for a new dormer or consider a replacement window for your existing dormer, get in touch with a Pella® professional today!