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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 change a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make your home warm and cozy. It can also improve the selling price of a home.

But what can you do when the style of your house makes it more challenging to bring 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 area.

That’s when dormers are helpful. Dormers are small additions frequently used to add usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are usually small in total area but can create additional square footage as one of the main elements of a loft project. 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 area you need to make your loft exactly how you planned it. Maybe it's a modest doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that opens extra area for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that adds style to your home’s curb appeal while creating additional space internally. Dormers are a great solution for space-challenged areas.

What are the styles?

There are many different variations of dormers. American homes mostly fall into two common designs, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being built. While the type of a dormer can often dictate what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can use any style of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:

Gabled/Doghouse Dormer

A simple 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 appears as a mini-roof that rises to create a point at the top. It creates the appearance of a traditional doghouse. Inside the house, a doghouse dormer can create additional functionality, such as a space ideal 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 often 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 high winds.

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

Shed Dormer

Similar to the doghouse dormer, this type receives 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 house’s roof, shed dormers are commonly 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 commonly found added to shed dormers.

Eyebrow Dormer

While the shed dormer can create the most added area in a home, the eyebrow dormer is built mainly for decorative purposes or developing alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer provides no sides and is highlighted by a curved roof that gives this dormer its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque design styles frequently feature eyebrow dormers.

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

Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to add space in your house, make sure to consider 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!

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