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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 influence a room like natural light. Added natural light does more than just make living spaces warm 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 difficult 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 homes, a remodeling job might aim to turn a windowless attic into a new living space.

That’s when dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions commonly used to increase usable space in a loft and create window space in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can create additional square footage as one of the central elements of a loft conversion. While they may not always include a window, the term "dormer" is usually used to refer to a "dormer window."

Typically (but not always) small, dormers can create those few additional square feet of space you need to make your loft exactly how you envision it. Maybe it's a basic doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that opens extra room for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes your home’s curb appeal 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 tend to fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being built. While the style of a dormer can often determine what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can handle any style of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types to use for each:

Gabled/Doghouse Dormer

A basic 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. Found on many styles of houses, the front of a gabled dormer can be identified by 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 offer additional functionality, such as a space right for a built-in seat or storage.

Ideal window type: Due to their unique shape, gabled dormers often need a specialty window or awning window.

Hip Roof Dormer

Found frequently on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style homes, 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 decrease some of the space inside the room, this style offers better defense against high winds.

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, numerous windows can be placed.

Shed Dormer

Just as with the doghouse dormer, this style takes its name from having a form similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes down at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the home’s roof, shed dormers are commonly found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.

Ideal window type: With the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to install many windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found placed in shed dormers.

Eyebrow Dormer

Though the shed dormer can create 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 provides no sides and features a curved roof that gives the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural styles commonly feature 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 frequently the suitable choices for this type of dormer.

Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If planning dormers to increase 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 discover more about the best window for a new dormer or look for a replacement window for your existing dormer, call a Pella® professional today!

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