What is a Dormer Window? Types & Benefits You Need to Know

Are you considering a home remodel that involves adding a window or two? Perhaps you’ve just come across the term and are wondering what is a dormer window. Not to worry as I got you covered. I let you in on everything you need to know about this type of window.

Defining a dormer window

If you are looking to increase light, ventilation or even create extra space in your home, building a dormer window might be the way to go.

A dormer is a window that protrudes from and lies vertically on a sloped roof. It has its own roof too. These types of windows come in many different styles and derive their name from their specific type of roof.

Installing a dormer during the construction of a new home can save costs. However, many homeowners add it as part of a remodeling project. In this case, the construction process involves removing part of the old roof to create a new room in there.

Why you should consider installing a dormer window

A dormer does more than just raise the roof, so to speak. Here are some solid perks that come with installing one:

Let there be light: The right type of window can work wonders if you are looking to illuminate an underlying living space. It can also be a smart way to lighten up a usually dark attic, which you can then utilize for other purposes such as a reading nook, playpen, or as extra living space. Also, if you are tired of using a window air conditioner, you can install a dormer to improve ventilation and cooling.

More space: Do you need more space in your home? Look to the roof—installing a new structure up there can solve the problem. In addition to this, a window higher up in the house can provide a spectacular view of the outdoors.

Aesthetic value: If you are tired of having a plain, old, sloped roof over your head, adding a dormer could spice things up. The extra illumination, ventilation, space, and outward beauty might boost the value of your home if you decide to sell it.

Common types of dormer windows

There are plenty of options when it comes to this type of window. Each type derives its name from the type of roof built on it. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular styles.

Eyebrow

Eyebrow Window

As the name suggests, this type of window appears like an eye peeping out of the roof. It has no side walls and instead features a curved roof that merges seamlessly with the rest of the house’s roof. The window underneath also takes after the roof’s curved style.

Barrel

Barrel Window 1

This window takes the shape of a front-facing, horizontal cask. It has vertical side windows and its characteristic arched roof extends from the surface of the main roof. These are best for adding beauty and light, rather than increasing space.

Gable

Gable Window 1

The roof on this one takes a triangular shape. It features two side walls and a prominent front wall making it a nice option for a loft or attic expansion and for letting in more light.

Shed

Shed Window 1

Although not as visually appealing as other common window types, the shed dormer is arguably the most spacious and affordable option. It is characterized by a boxy appearance and may come with a flat or slightly sloped roof with a front and sidewalls.

Hipped

Hipped Window

This one has a three-sided roof with all sides of the roof meeting at the center. You are likely to spot this type of dormer on a house with a hipped or gabled roof. If you are looking to enhance the character of your house, this one might be a good option.

Blind

Blind Window

Lastly, we have the blind window. This one is basically for outward visual appeal. In the real sense, the window does not open up to the interior of the house; rather, the structure itself is just an extension attached to the main room.

What to consider before adding a dormer window

Cute as they may seem, a lot goes into installing dormers in your roof. Before taking your roof apart, a couple of things to bear in mind are:

  • Costs: The cost of installing a dormer could range between $4,000 and $100,000 depending on factors such as size, style, and roofing materials. Local building permits could also add to the construction price tag.

If your house is already set up and you are looking to remodel, consider retrofitting the window at the time of replacing the shingles or repairing your roof. You might be able to cut down or labor and material costs.

  • House style: Construction experts recommend building a dormer whose style complements that of your house including the roof and windows. For example, barrel dormers might be an excellent choice for adding sharp contrast to a plain roof. The gable type generally suits most house styles while the eyebrow dormer works best on a house with similarly curved or arched windows or doors.
  • Utility: Do you want to install a dormer for extra living space, additional illumination, and ventilation, or is it purely for aesthetics? Barrel and eyebrow windows work just fine to let in more light but might not do much if space is your concern. On the contrary, installing a shed, gable, or wall roof might make a big difference.

Unless you have advanced construction skills, building a dormer is not something you should DIY. To avoid potential risks such as costly roof leaks, you should hire a professional and experienced contractor.

Conclusion

A dormer window might be a more cost-effective alternative to remodeling an attic or a loft. When done by a professional, this type of window can add character to your house all while letting in much-needed light and air. Before installing one (or several), bear in mind all the related costs, the style of home, and its long-term usefulness.

Have you installed a dormer in your new-build or are thinking of retrofitting one in your existing home? We would love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below as well as any questions you may have about home windows.

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