Choosing the right window for your attic begins with measuring the living area to be illuminated. Then, based on this information and depending on the orientation of the roof plane in relation to the sun, the required window area should be calculated. One should also keep in mind the need for ventilation, the fact that different types of windows have different efficiencies, the fact that in addition to size, the position of the window affects the amount of lighting and ventilation, etc.
The price of windows usually speaks of the quality class, and when it comes to roof windows, compromise with quality should be avoided more than for any other element of the house, because the damage that poor sealing or insulation do can be too expensive.
In the end, the look itself can decisively influence the choice of window type, because they usually bring a special atmosphere to the space, which is why many people like to live in the attic.
What is a roof window anyway?
Roof windows are a design element of the roof structure that allows a sufficient amount of light and air to penetrate into the attic and thus allows it to be transformed into living space.
What are the types of roof windows?
There are three main types of roof windows and the rest are all variations on the theme: flat roof windows, dormers and skylights.
Here are the pros and cons for different roof window type:
|easy installation no permission required the roof structure remains the same many extras possible application to historic buildings better illumination
|high price few quality manufacturers
|the window itself is cheaper increases the effective usable living space better ventilation enhances the appearance of the roof and the house itself
|complicated installation requires permission requires a change in roof construction
|the best option for flat roofs the best option for passive houses many extras
|most often there is no possibility of ventilation and exit
What are the flat roof windows?
These are windows that are installed in the very plane of the roof, without leaving the existing dimensions of the roof structure. When we say roof window, this type is most often meant on. Its popularity and wide distribution are due to the fact that it is not necessary to ask for any permits for installation, nor is it necessary, most often, to intervene on the supporting parts of the roof structure, because manufacturers made them in standard widths that correspond to the distance between the bearing roof beams.
There are several subtypes of these windows, concerning how the window opens:
Top hung and pivot window
This type of window is practical when the mounting position is relatively low because there is no obstruction of the interior space when opening.
This has been the most commonly used type of roof window for years. The reason lies in the fact that it is constructively easier to make a long window of this type (the weight of the window when opened is better balanced), and when the axis of the opening is high enough, there is no problem in the fact that part of the window plane enters inside the interior.
Side hung window
When there is a need to allow, in addition to lighting and ventilation of the space, access to the outside, to the roof, this type of window is one usable option. However, today there are much more elegant solutions, so this type is used less and less.
What are dormers?
Dormers are the vertical windows that project from a sloping roof and illuminate the attics. Dormers are set either on the face of the wall or high upon the roof, and their own roofs may be various: gabled, hipped, flat, with one slope… This type of window, unlike the other two, increases the effective usable living area of the attic. This is the oldest type of roof windows and has been used on sacral buildings since the Middle Ages. In housing construction they have been appearing since the 16th century in England, and they have gained their wide popularity since the 17th century in France with the appearance of mansard roofs.
If we do not take into account the cost of roof construction, these windows are the cheapest option, so in addition to increasing the space, it makes them the most effective option in new construction. The dormer may complement the larger roof, or can add beauty and curb appeal to your home, or they can end up making your house look ridiculous, so you should carefully consider when and where to add them.
What are skylights?
A skylight is a light-transmitting structure or window, usually made of transparent or translucent glass, that forms all or part of the roof space of a building for daylighting when there’s no need for ventilation or exit to roof (although there are operable and retractable ones).
Their main advantage used to be better sealing, but with the advancement of manufacturing technology in recent decades, it has been lost. However, they are still the best option for flat and roofs up to 15 degrees slope. The interest in this type of window is growing again with the growing need for low-energy and passive houses.
Can I get daylight in a windowless room?
Yes, you can! There is an interesting solution in the form of a tubular daylighting device. This is a kind of a skylight often called a solar tube, sun tunnel or tubular skylight.
It consists of a roof-mounted fixed unit skylight element, condensing sunlight, distributed by a light conveying optic conduit to a light diffusing element. With diameters ranging from about 10 inches for residential applications to 22 inches for commercial buildings, they can be used for daylighting smaller spaces such as hallways, or to bounce light in darker corners of larger spaces.
What are the most inspiring roof window solutions?
Window balcony – it opens in seconds and provides your attic a place under the sun, adding air, light and a great view to your home. Furthermore, the balcony fits into the flat roof when closed.
Dormer kit – A complete insulated solution with all necessary parts for the installation.
Roof terrace – A roof terrace gives you the best of both worlds by letting you access roof areas when open and allowing lots of daylight in when closed.