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Exterior view of a TruStile black Traditional Style front door.

What is a Transom Window?


Transom Window Definition 

A transom window

Transom Window

A window above a window or a door. Transoms are usually stationary.

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typically appears above a door frame and provides additional natural light into an entry way or room.  

Transom windows get their name because they are located above a door or window. A transom is a beam that separates the top of a door or window from the wall.  

Glass panes are sometimes referred to as lites or lights. Transom windows can also be called transom lights. A fanlight is a type of transom window and differs by having a semi-circular shape.

What is the Function of a Transom Window?

Builders historically installed transom windows in homes to allow air to flow through the house with the doors closed. They appeared predominantly in row houses that didn’t have many windows. Today, transom windows are used to add natural light to your home. Transom windows are primarily used for architectural appeal and do not open.

Transom windows can help light a space and allow you to keep lights off in the area more often.

Transom Windows + Entryways

Transom windows frequently appear in entryways to add more natural light to your home. They also complement contemporary front door styles that feature nostalgic nods and charm. Transom windows also often appear with sidelites with front door designs. You can find arched transom windows with grilles in traditional styled home. Georgian and Colonial Revival homes are traditional styled homes where you'll see transom windows.

Transom windows do appear in interior spaces, but they’re not as popular as those paired with entry doors. A transom window above an interior door only works in spaces where natural light can shine through. Some people will use transom windows to bring light to bathrooms or with patio doors for additional light.

Transom Window Considerations

Transom windows typically get included as part of a front door. Replacing transom windows can have special considerations. Transom window replacement can need engineering to assess structural support.

You also must think about the available space to add a transom window. Transoms work well in homes with high ceilings. Homes with standard eight-foot ceilings might not accommodate transom windows.

Transom Window Styles + Types of Transom Windows

Transom windows typically appear above front doors, but they can also appear in bathrooms, inside home, and above garage doors.

Transom windows usually appear rectangular in shape, though they can come as arch and radius tops. Marvin Replacement proudly offers TruStile®, a Marvin® brand, front doors with a multitude of transom options.  

Direct-Set Transoms 

Direct-set transom windows are set directly into the transom frame. Direct-set transom windows cannot be opened, serve primarily as an additional way to add natural light to a home, and add decorative appeal.  

In-Sash Square Transoms 

In-sash square transoms differ from direct-set transom windows because they get glazed into a separate sash, which gets secured to a frame. In-sash transom windows can open and close, if designed that way, though the popularity of operable transom windows can ebb and flow.  

Arch- and Radius-Top Transoms 

TruStile offers arch-top transom windows that feature a slight curve and radius-top transom windows that have more of a semi-circle curve. Arch-top and radius-top transom windows can fit well in homes with older architectural styles, like Gothic styles, because they used to serve a functional purpose of helping allow air into a home.  

Fixed Type Transom Windows 

Fixed transoms windows, which is another way to describe direct-set transom windows, remain inoperable but add appeal to a home. Depending on the style of home, a fixed transom window can enhance a home’s style by creating the appearance of a bigger entry way. Rectangular transom windows can fit in well with Craftsman homes and curved transom windows can pair well with Victorian homes. Transoms can also work well with extra wide doors for symmetry.   

Transom Window Pros 

  • Transom windows fit in nicely in tall, narrow entryways because they can fill in otherwise unused space above a door to provide more natural light.  

  • Transom windows can add elegance to a home, especially with curved transom windows. 

  • Transom windows can help with energy use because they can help light a space and allow you to keep lights off in the area more often.  

Transom Window Cons 

  • Since transom windows sit above a door, cleaning them can be a little tougher than other windows. You can review our window cleaning tips to get your windows sparkling clean. 

  • Transom windows might not go well in certain entryways. Transom windows require sufficient space above your door. Transoms often don’t pair well with ranch or rambler style homes. 

  • Historically used to help provide ventilation, modern transom windows remain fixed typically and only provide additional natural light.   

View Transom Window Options

Learn more about TruStile's front door transom window options


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