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Finding the Right Window for Your Home's Dormer

Finding the Right Window for Your Home's Dormer

Few touches immediately impact a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also increase the selling price of a home.

But what can you do when the style of your house makes it harder to get natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style houses, 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 area.

That’s when dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions frequently 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 result in additional square footage as one of the main elements of a loft conversion. While they may not always include a window, the term "dormer" is commonly 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 envision it. Maybe it's a modest doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that provides extra space for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that adds style to your home’s outside 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 built. While the type of a dormer can often determine what space fits a window, most dormer styles can include any design of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:

Gabled/Doghouse Dormer

A modest and relatively minor architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can add extra light and space inside a loft area. Common on many styles of homes, the front of a gabled dormer looks like a mini-roof that rises to form a point at the top. It creates the appearance of a traditional doghouse. Inside the house, 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 require 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. Although the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer decrease some of the space inside the home, this style provides better defense against the elements.

Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are most commonly found in hip roof dormers, reflecting the traditional look of the home’s style. Depending on the size of the dormer, many windows can be installed.

Shed Dormer

Just as with the doghouse dormer, this type takes 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 house’s roof, shed dormers are often found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.

Ideal window type: Because of the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to add multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found installed on shed dormers.

Eyebrow Dormer

Though the shed dormer can bring the most space in a house, the eyebrow dormer is used 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 the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural styles commonly use eyebrow dormers.

Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can vary from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific style. Custom-designed or curved windows are often the suitable choices for this style of dormer.

Dormer additions and dormer windows bring your home more than just curb appeal. If placing dormers to add space in your house, make sure to consider the same features you would identify for when purchasing other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.

To learn more about the right window for a new dormer or look for a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!

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