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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. Improving natural light does more than just make your home inviting and cozy. It can also impact the selling price of a home.

But what happens when the style of your house makes it difficult to add natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style homes, for example, often don’t have a full second story. In other homes, a remodeling job might plan to turn a windowless attic into a new living space.

That’s when dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions frequently used to increase usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are usually small in total area but can provide 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 usually used to refer to a "dormer window."

Typically (but not always) small, dormers can create those few additional square feet of freedom you need to make your home 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 room for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that enhances 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 styles of dormers. American homes often fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being added. While the style of a dormer can often decide what space can hold 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 simple and relatively small architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can bring extra light and space inside a loft area. Common on many styles of dwellings, 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 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 unique 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 consist of three converging roof sides with a window in the front. Though the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer take away some of the space inside the house, this style offers better defense against high winds.

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

Shed Dormer

Much like the doghouse dormer, this style receives 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 home’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 numerous windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found added to shed dormers.

Eyebrow Dormer

While the shed dormer can create the most space in a home, the eyebrow dormer is used mainly for decorative purposes or creating alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer provides no sides and is highlighted by a curved roof that gives the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural styles commonly add eyebrow dormers.

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

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

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

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