Everything You Need to Know About Replacing Dormer Windows

Dormers, or structural elements of a home that protrude from the slope of a roof, are architectural design elements found on homes across the U.S. For each dormer, there is usually a dormer window which is an integral part of any loft conversion or dormer room. Dormers and dormer windows are popular on Colonial or Victorian style homes. When it comes time to replace dormer windows, whether they’re leaking air and causing a draft or rattling in the wind, it’s good to know what types of window options are available for your dormers.

Dormer windows

History of Dormers and Dormer Windows

In architecture, a dormer is a vertical structure that projects upward from a sloped roof. The word “dormer” is derived from the Latin word dormitorium meaning a “room for sleeping” or “sleeping room”. The term is also derived from the French word dormir or “to sleep”. Dormers were created as a means to make attics habitable in homes with steep roof lines and also create an additional floor of sleeping areas in France centuries ago by French architect Francois Mansart.

In present day, dormers can be found in Victorian-style and Colonial Revival homes across the country, especially those built during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Dormers on newer home

There are all sorts of dormer styles and with those styles come many different types of windows, which are the primary focal point of any dormer. Windows in dormers allow for light and ventilation to make attics or lofts feel more like the rest of the home.

Types of Dormers and Windows to Match

There are several different styles of dormers which may impact the type of window that can be installed in your dormer. Below is a list of some of the more popular dormer styles.

Gabled Dormers

A gable dormer or gable fronted dormer is one of the most common types of dormers. The front of a gable dormer looks like a mini-roof that rises to form a point at the top. Gable dormers essentially have three sides: the two sides that make up a roof and the third which is where the window sits.

Gabled dormer

Gabled dormers can be found on many different styles of homes ranging from Colonial Revival to Tudor. This style of dormer is certainly one of the most popular and used extensively by architects from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Windows for Gable Dormers – These types of dormers usually require an architectural or specialty window given their unique shape. Oftentimes a non-operational or picture window will be used for window replacement in gable dormers.

Hip Roof Dormers

Another common style of dormer is the hip roof dormer. These dormers have three roof sides that converge: two sides and a front. Additionally, the base of a hip roof dormer has three sides, one of which has a window in front. Hipped dormers are commonly found on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style homes.

Replacement Window for Hip Roof Dormers – Hip roof dormers commonly feature a double hung or “up-down” window at the front. Depending on the size of the dormer, you could go larger and have two or three windows side by side.

Shed Dormers

Shed dormers have a slightly forward sloping flat roof with two side walls and a window in the front. Usually, the roof of shed dormers slopes down slightly less than the rest of the roof. Shed dormers are usually found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival home styles.

Shed dormer with double hung windows

Shed Dormer Windows – You can use many types of windows on a shed dormer. Since shed dormers are typically wide, you can have 2-6 windows side by side ranging from casement windows to double hungs.

Eyebrow Dormers

Eyebrow dormers are called so because they typically have a curved roof or a curved window. These types of dormers make a dramatic statement for the design of almost any house and are very unique. Queen Anne and Romanesque home architectural styles most commonly feature eyebrow dormers.

row of gabled dormer windows

Window Styles for Eyebrow Dormers – Since the structure of eyebrow dormers varies, so will the window type. An architectural or curved window is almost always used given the unique shape of the structure.

Why is Choosing the Right Dormer Window Important?

Choosing the right style, type and model of dormer window is important for several reasons. Dormer windows can have a significant impact on more than just your home’s looks.

Dormer Window Energy Efficiency

Buying a new energy-efficient dormer window can mean saving hundreds or thousands of dollars in heating and cooling costs over a long period of time. Most new dormer windows will be double-paned for increased energy efficiency. That can be a big difference if you are replacing old storm or single pane windows in your dormer.

House with dormers


Dormer windows can make an enormous impact on the look of your home. Not only do new dormer windows allow for a fresh look for your dormers but also for improved energy efficiency as well.

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