Dormers are roof structures that extend from the slope of a slanted roof to provide additional space. They can be found on homes, barns and other buildings. A common misconception about dormers is they only come in one type which is false as there are several types available for you to use on your next project.
1. Gabled Dormer
The most commonly used dormer design is the gabled dormer. The gable roof structure has two, triangular shaped sloping parts and comes in two styles: One with an open end and one that has a window.
Gabled dormers are basically a part of the main roof of the house. This means that they have to be properly designed and detailed in order for them to work effectively with the rest of the roof. When designing your gabled dormer, you need to make sure you have enough pitch on both sides so rainwater can drain off easily.
Gabled dormers can be placed anywhere on the roof. They can also be designed in different shapes and sizes to give your structure some character. The only drawback to this type of dormer is that you may have to install a jack rafter above it for additional support.
2. Shed Dormer
The shed dormer is designed to be mounted onto the gable end of a house. These dormers usually have a slanted roof and your can also include an eave to cover the window openings. The roof may extend beyond the outside wall of your home or it can be flush with the walls – depending on what you prefer.
Although shed dormers are easy to build, they don’t look very attractive. You might want to consider adding some trim around the edges of your window openings or try painting the dormer a contrasting color with the rest of your home’s roof for added appeal.
3. Hipped Roof Dormer
If you’re not interested in the appearance of your shed dormers and want to make sure they blend in with the rest of your home then you might want to consider the hipped roof dormer. These dormers have a triangular shaped roof that follows along the slope of your roof. The window area is set back from the peak and often have a small roof over it.
Hipped roof dormers are a great choice because of how they blend in with the rest of your roof. The slope on the edges allows rainwater to drain away from the structure easily and keeps it looking neat.
4. Mansard Roof Dormer
The mansard is a three dimensional dormer found on the top of some houses’ double pitched roofs. This dormer has two or three sides and may have a flat roof, gabled roof or sloping roof with eaves – depending on what you prefer. The front face of this dormer can be flat with the roof below it or a slope.
Mansard roofs are used on many different styles of architecture. They’re usually found on French Colonial architecture but they’ve also been used in other parts of the world as well.
5. Hip Roof Dormer
Hip roof dormers are built into a hip roof. The dormer is usually a rectangular room that is adjacent to the rest of the roof structure. This type of dormer can be applied to different types of roofs, but its shape may vary according to the style and pitch of roof.
They are commonly found in two-story houses with gables as well as on bungalow houses. It is a very much in demand dormer because of its multipurpose function as it can be used to provide more space for living and dining, in-house studio, work room or play room and also an extra bedroom for guests.
Today they have modernized both the design and materials used, and are now made with advanced materials such as aluminum, steel and vinyl.
6. Eyebrow Dormer
Eyebrow dormers are built on a slope roof and is the most popular type of dormer among home owners.
Eyebrow dormers are for people who want to maximize space while minimizing cost and maintenance. While they have minimum architectural influence, they are one of the biggest ways to add room to your home without breaking the budget or adding stress to you household routine. They are also a popular choice for remodeling projects.
Eyebrows have the built-in advantage of fitting into existing homes with ease, and because they are usually part of the original design, they give your home back some of its original features.
Eyebrow dormers come in different sizes, slopes and styles. The slope of the roof on which they are built ranges from four to seven degrees, which is steep enough so that you can add a mini porch or terrace outside your attic bedroom.
7. Shed dormer
Shed dormers are usually DIY ideas that homeowners can put up themselves. The benefit of doing so is that you can design the dormer according to your needs and preferences as opposed to hiring someone else to do it for you.
This type of dormer usually covers a portion of an existing roof used mainly for storage space and other purposes depending on the available space in the attic, e.g., a playroom or home entertainment area.
Since the dormer is not attached to or connected to the rest of the house, it has a separate roof which usually has one slope.
8. Butterfly Dormer
Butterfly dormers are the most common in terms of architectural design. The shape and design found on this type of dormer may vary due to the chosen style for the house.
Butterfly dormers are usually split-level and attached to the main roof and also adjacent to a wall. They are built in such a way that they maximize the views outside while still making use of all available space above ground level.
They are found on residential houses, apartments, offices as well as shopping malls and other commercial spaces.
9. Arched Top
This is the most common decorative dormer. They are usually made of wood and have brick or stone sills and backs. The main point in this type of dormer is to allow a lot of light into your attic, while still showing off the beauty of what being an attic can be. It is also the most expensive dormer.
One of the main benefits to this is that it allows plenty of light into the attic while showing off what your house looks like on the inside. With these, you can actually have a window as part of your room but still allow plenty of light in from above.
Some people will paint them a bright color for an added benefit. If you are worried about security, add bars on the outside to make it a little more secure and it will still look good from the inside.
This type of dormer is very decorative and I am sure that many people have one in their home or have seen one before. They can be made of wood or tin, and they usually have a window on the top of them. They are most frequently used for storage or as a place to put your wet things (such as laundry).
In order for people to get in and out, there will be an opening at about the eye level of an adult. Most roofs do not allow for this type of dormer, but if you do choose to have one this is the best choice, for it allows light in and still allows for you to be able to get into your attic.
This type of dormer is usually used as a decoration on the front or back of the house because it sticks out in both directions and shows a nice part of your home. It can be made from tin, wood, or even plastic.
The main drawback to this type of dormer is that they can allow water into your attic. They are usually used on the front of your home, but if you have a flat roof, they can be placed anywhere.
The pedimented dormer is good for allowing light into your attic as well as giving it some decoration, so it could be a good thing to have on your house.
These can often be seen in historical homes. They are usually made of brick and have a window on top, so they can be used as an attic window or just a decoration for your house. Some people choose to make these windows smaller because big windows can be hard to let in light if you live in an area with many trees.
This type is very decorative and gives the house a classic look, which can be nice if you have an old house.
The pyramidal dormer is very similar to the pedimented dormer, but instead of being flat it has a pyramid shape to it. These can be seen on both older and newer homes but are usually in brick or stone.
This type of dormer provides lots of light into your attic and can also provide a lot of decoration to your roof. This dormer is usually on the front part of the house and can be seen through a window or an opened door.
12. Wall Roof Dormer
This dormer appears just like a normal wall but is actually a piece of wood that hangs out the front and back of the house. This type of dormer provides very little light, so it is usually only used on garages, bathrooms or other small rooms in your home.
It is also a very common dormer for attics because it does not interrupt the look of the roof. It has no windows, so provides no light into your attic. Only if the door to your attic is directly underneath does it provide any type of light into your attic.
Q: How do I know which type of dormer to use?
A: That will depend on what you want the dormer for as well as how much light and ventilation you want in the room or attic that it is attached to. This also depends on the shape and size of your home as well.
I suggest using online images for your home and create a collage of the types of dormers that you think would fit best on your home. That way you can compare different styles and sizes of dormers with ease.
Q: How do I determine which direction to put my dormer?
A: Normally, they are placed in corners so that you can see both sides of it. However, it is also possible to place them in non-corner spots on a house and still have a good view of it from the outside.
This is determined by the architecture of your house. Some houses are easy to modify and make your own but other houses will have a hard time with large changes – especially interior ones.
The direction you put each dormer in can change how that section looks as well as the whole structure. The rooflines of each dormer should match up to each other to have a more uniform look.
Q: Which style of dormer is best?
A: That depends on what you are going for. Your decision should be based off of how much sunlight you want, how big it needs to be, and if you want movement across the roofline or something very static. Take into account your home’s architecture and aesthetics.
Q: How do I keep my dormer in place?
A: The most common and easiest way to secure your dormer is with a shingle nail. These are nails that go into the roofing material of your house and can hold up to 40 lbs of weight.
These nails should be long enough to reach through another layer (if your dormer is sitting on top of a layer of shingles) and into the rafters. Also, they should go in where the taper of your roof begins so that the force doesn’t throw it out of place if strong winds come by.
In addition, you may wish to use wood strips around the perimeter to help secure it in place. This is only necessary for dormers with large pieces of glass or other materials that may not be secured by nails alone.
Q: What’s the difference between a dormer and a cupola?
A: Well, cupolas are basically just like they sound – small domes or round areas that sit on top of a roof. They both function as a lookout point for your home and provide lighting to additional rooms of your house (i.e. attic). Cupolas are usually used for decoration or to add a design element, and dormers are just there for function.
Q: How do I know what size the dormer is?
A: The size of your dormer will depend on how big or small you want it to be. However, most people don’t realize that when they go down a size (in inches) that the wall is going to be shorter than what they picture it to be. I highly recommend trying to visualize sizes in your mind and comparing them with pieces of paper.
If you are thinking of adding on to your home, creating a new roofline with dormers is a great way to do so. However, it also brings along decisions that need to be made in order for the dormer and other additions look their best. Taking advantage of online resources can help you visualize what would look good on your house and how something will look.