Few touches immediately change a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also improve the resale value of a home.
But what happens 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 situations, a remodeling job might aim to turn a windowless attic into a new living room.
That’s when dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions often used to increase usable space in a loft and create window options in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can create additional square footage as one of the main elements of a loft conversion. While they may not always feature 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 area you need to make your loft exactly how you envision 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 outside while creating additional space internally. Dormers are a great idea for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different styles of dormers. American homes mostly fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being created. While the style of a dormer can often dictate what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can handle any style of window. Here’s a look at the most frequently used dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A basic 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 houses, the front of a gabled dormer appears as a mini-roof that rises to create a point at the top. It creates the look of a traditional doghouse. Inside the structure, a doghouse dormer can bring additional functionality, such as a space suited for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their specific shape, gabled dormers often require a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found frequently on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style houses, 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 house, this style offers 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.
Similar to the doghouse dormer, this type takes its name from having a form similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes forward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the building’s roof, shed dormers are frequently found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Due to the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to place multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found placed in shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can create the most added area in a home, the eyebrow dormer is added mainly for decorative purposes or developing alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer offers no sides and consists of a curved roof that gives this dormer its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque home styles often 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 style. Custom-designed or curved windows are commonly the suitable choices for this kind of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows bring your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to add space in your room, make sure to look at the same features you would find important for when investing in other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To find out more about the right window for a new dormer or find a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!