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All About Transom Windows - Gilkey windowsNatural light is a desired element in any home. Many homeowners look for ways to add even more windows during a remodel or new build. One way to do that is with transom windows. These are located above the transom, a transverse horizontal beam, of a door or wall.


The use of a transom beam to strengthen belfries and spires dates back to the early Gothic time period. In churches and other ecclesiastical buildings, builders added more windows, and this transom beam became even more of a necessity. Eventually, the builders included windows, called either transom windows or lights, above this transom beam.


The classic style of transom is the fanned window. These semi-circular windows resemble an open fan – hence the term. The glass can be solid or paned. Paned fans offer a more cohesive look for traditional and historical houses, while solid windows offer a modern profile.

Another common style for transom windows is the rectangle. As with semi-circular versions, these can be paned or solid.

Eyebrow windows can be a style of transom windows. These are a shallower version of semicircular windows that project out of a roofline. However, eyebrow windows can be used above a transom beam if that’s the shape needed.

Homeowners can get creative with transom windows. For example, a version of the fanned windows is a quarter circle. You can combine this with a rectangular transom for even more light. Eyebrow windows can come with blunt ends, or you could add quarter trapezoids for a unique look.

Transom windows can also come in stained or frosted glass. These styles add beauty without compromising privacy. Stained glass is stunning in historical homes, especially Victorians and Georgians. Frosted glass complements contemporary and ranch homes beautifully.


Transom windows have different uses. Naturally, a common modern use is to let in more natural light. Because the windows are so high up, you can increase your natural light without compromising your privacy.

Another common use is to add architectural beauty. Transom windows are a hallmark of Victorian and Mediterranean homes and many different styles found in New Orleans. However, with the range of style options available, homeowners have discovered they can match these windows to any style of house.

In that vein, transom windows can add beauty to the interior of your house as well. For example, a kitchen with transom windows that echo shapes found in the window below can create a pleasing symmetry.

The historical use for transom windows was for ventilation. Older buildings still feature casement or awning transom windows. These allowed inhabitants to open them up for better circulation of warm air in the cold months and cool air in the warm months.


Where you place your transom window depends a lot on your home’s structure. You need to consider several things when choosing where to place your windows. For instance, you need to consider the available space and whether the wall in question is load-bearing. Transom windows are used both for interior and exterior walls.

A common placement for transom windows is above a door. This is especially true for front doors – the window adds architectural interest to the entryway. For interior windows, locating the transoms above the door is the most common placement. Transom windows can also be located above other windows.

When considering location, keep in mind how much more natural light you’ll be getting. If you’re worried about glare, say in a TV room or study, consider choosing transom windows with a reflective coating.

Transom windows can add beauty both to the interior and the exterior of your home. Visit the window experts at Gilkey Window Company to discuss how to add transom windows to your next construction project.

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