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5 Things to Know About Dormers

Last modified: 2022-06-10 | Approximate reading time 5 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Dormers, which were first introduced in the early Gothic period, continue to attract homeowners searching for a certain elegance and refinement when it comes to the roof of their house. In due part because of its timeless style, the dormer window perfectly adorns the exterior of any home. 

A dormer is essentially a vertical glass opening positioned on the slope of the roof. It is a particularly aesthetic element that ensures the penetration of light and the ventilation of your attic.

Dormer windows are extremely common on heritage buildings, and much more prominent in contemporary architecture. As a matter of fact, many people are tempted to turn their attic space into a habitable space due to the various possibilities offered by dormer windows. Nowadays, dormers can be rather large and have a particularly modern look. Check out these undeniably charming sources of light!

5 Things to Know About Dormers

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Photo: Deposit Photo

1. Style Depends on Purpose of Attic

There are numerous styles of dormers: ox-eye dormer, shed dormer, flared gable dormer, and hipped dormer. The styles are truly infinite. The choice ultimately depends on the shape of your home and the purpose of your attic space.

For example, the shed dormer is distinguishable by its steep incline that follows the slope of the roof. As a result, the window possibilities are quite limited. Although it can be used for ventilation purposes, natural lighting will be limited. For this reason, the attic can be further used if converted into a storage space or a space that does not require much light. 

However, if you want to turn your attic into a bedroom, then it would be better to opt for a hipped dormer. This type of dormer is covered by a flat roof, which allows the installation of a large window. The natural light will be optimized, as well as the ventilation of the room.

2. Dormers Enhance the Durability of Your Roof

Did you know that attics are the prime location for mould and fungus growth of all kinds? Since they tend to be dark, damp, cold, and often poorly ventilated, attics deteriorate easily, especially if poorly maintained.

Even if you are not converting your attic into a living space, having a dormer window put in is a great way to maximize the ventilation of your attic and provide additional natural lighting during the warmer seasons.

Note that mould and mildew issues will dissipate over time. However, keep in mind that roof insulation must be particularly effective to help effectively counteract humidity problems.

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Photo: Deposit Photo

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3. Avoid Confusing Dormers and Skylights 

It is not uncommon to see roofs featuring windows better known as VELUX. What you may not have known is that VELUX is also a brand that has been pioneering this field for close to 60 years. As a matter of fact, the name comes from the words ventilation and light: VE for ventilation and LUX for light. The main distinction to be made between a dormer and a VELUX window is in the positioning of the window itself. The dormer window is positioned vertically, while the VELUX is fixed into the roof.

A skylight will obviously be more exposed to all weather, and for this reason, it is usually double-glazed and has great sealing. On the other hand, the VELUX does not allow for space-saving like a dormer window. Moreover, the latter is usually installed by a professional roofer, as it represents an extensive amount of renovation, which is not the case for roof windows.

4. Dormers Transformed into Rooftop Terraces

Modern homes tend to take on classic geometric shapes, giving them a trendy look. However, this does not prevent the installation of dormers, which, given their design possibilities, blend seamlessly with contemporary homes.

Today, dormer windows are made up of a deck and a bay window to fully benefit from the sunshine and the resulting comfort. Even if the dormers first appeared decades ago, it is a timeless element that has evolved over time!

Planning on transforming your roof into a terrace? Check out the article What to Know When Building a Rooftop Terrace in Canada.

dormer_5 Things to Know About Dormers_Reno Quotes

Photo: Deposit Photo

5. Dormers Allow for Notable Space Gain

Turning your attic into a living space can be a great way to expand your home. It is also without a doubt the best way to ensure its durability. In fact, neglected spaces tend to fall into disrepair, mainly because of the lack of heat.

Therefore, chances are, should your roof be directly sheltering a leaving space instead of a neglected or unused room, preservation will be enhanced. With your needs in tow, an architect will then be able to design your new dormer. This type of installation is ideal for any space gain in height and to further maximize the natural lighting of the room.

Once the plans have been drawn up, getting the appropriate municipal building permits will be a must, as most exterior home remodelling requires a renovation permit. After that, hire a professional roofer to finally make your roofing project a reality.

In summary

1) Dormer style depends on the purpose of the attic

  • Lighting largely depends on the purpose of your attic space.

2) Dormer aids the durability of the roof

  • The dormer allows for attic ventilation as well as lighting the space organically.

3) Avoid confusing dormers and skylights

  • The dormer is located on the facade and is fixed vertically, whereas the skylight is mounted directly on the roof. 

4) Benefit from turning dormers into rooftop terraces

  • Rooftop decks are well suited for contemporary homes, which most often have classic geometrical shapes.

5) Dormers allow for notable space gain

  • It allows for any space gain (height) and maximizes the natural lighting of the room.
  • A building permit must be obtained before the dormer window is installed.
  • Architect-drawn plans are a must.
  • A professional roofer will need to install the shingles.


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