Dormers have been an architectural staple since the days of Shakespeare.  These windows are placed vertically into a roof and also have a roof of their own. They don’t take up much room of the overall home roofing, however—as a general rule, not more than half of the depth or width of a roof. Instead, their purpose is to add an aesthetic interest while also functioning as a window for additional natural light and fresh air.

dormer window

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Different Dormer Styles

Not all dormers look the same. In fact, when designing a dormer, there are many decisions to consider including the size and style of both the dormer and the window. The windows used for dormers can vary based on how the designer plans for the dormer to function within the home. Some of the most popular choices included casement windows, double hung windows, and stationary picture of accent windows. The casement and double hung windows are commonly chosen because they offer the option of bringing additional fresh air into the home.

Dormers exist in a wide variety of shapes and styles. Here are just some of the most popular styles: 

Flat Dormer: A flat dormer is square with a flat roof that extends straight out from the room, parallel to the ground. A flat dormer may be small, with a single window, or have a long width with two or more windows.

Shed Dormer: A shed dormer is not all that different from a flat dormer. In the same manner, this dormer is square or rectangle with one or more windows that extends out from the normal slope of the roof. The roof of this dormer is flat, but is sloped downward instead of extending straight out like the flat dormer.

Dormer Interior

Gabled Dormer: Gabled dormers are very popular for use on residential homes because they offer the highest ceiling compared to other dormer options. The roof of a gabled dormer has two planes that meet in the center and slope out on either side.

Pedimented Dormer: When it comes to structure, pedimented dormers aren’t much different from gabled dormers. Instead, the difference is in the details. The architectural details of these dormers are inspired by ancient Greece and Rome, with a triangular shape on top of the window created with molding, and vertical molding on either side of the window to mimic columns holding the triangle up.

Hipped Dormer: Hipped dormers are most commonly seen on Craftsman or Prairie style homes. These dormers are characterized by their unique roof, with three panes that meet at the top and slope outward.


Arched Dormer: This style of dormer has French roots and is characterized by its roof, which has a gentle arch.

Oval Dormer: Oval dormers are very similar to an arched dormer. The big difference that sets an oval dormer apart is that the curve of the roof is larger and more pronounced.

Eyebrow Dormer: Although the eyebrow dormer has an arched roof, it does not have vertical sides. The lack of vertical sides results in a dormer the is very low, barely rising above the surface of the roof.

Inset Dormer: This dormer is named based on how it is built onto the roof. While most dormers rise up and away from the roof, an inset dormer is set back in the roof.

Composite Dormer: A composite dormer is designed by borrowing elements from multiple styles of dormers, and it will look different based on the architect responsible for the design.

While dormers are most frequently added to the home during the initial building process, some homeowners use them during a remodel as a means of adding additional room to the upper level of their home. In some cases, the owner of the home will install the dormer themselves, but typically a professional contractor is required when making such a significant change to the structure of the roof.