transom window 8 foot ceiling

ontariomomAugust 19, 2011


We are putting in an addition to our 19 year old house and asked our architect for rectangular transom windows above two large windows. Our ceilings are to remain 8 feet. We were just reviewing the blueprints, and can see that the top of the transom windows is only 2.5 inches higher than the top of all of our other windows in the house. This will leave roughly 8.5 inches of wall space above window trim for the transom windows. Do you think the transom windows should go taller? Or is this correct and will it look okay only being 2.5 inches closer to ceiling in comparison to the other windows?

Thanks so much for your help.


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Windows on Washington Ltd

Depends on the structure of the exterior wall in the plans as to how close to the ceiling height that you can run it.

2.5 inches is probably fine and you won't even tell the difference if I ventured a guess.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 8:42AM
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Thanks for your response. I was hoping the transom windows would be able to go higher than 2.5 above the other windows -- there is still another 8.5 inches of wall space available. The material on the exterior wall is brick. There is another storey above this one which is siding.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 9:57AM
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You may not be able to go much higher if the wall is load bearing and requires a header. Ask your Architect about using a composite or Steel header if that is the case.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 12:12PM
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Thanks for your input GulfBreeze. I will check with the architect about the header used. However, I am beginning to conclude that I would be better to skip transoms given the ceilings are only 8 feet. The way the architect has it planned now, the window below the transom is shorter than doorway height (6'8") in order to put a transom in that goes 2.5 inches higher than doorway. In fact there are two windows on the plans for one wall - each with a transom over top. In between there is a French door at standard height. I think this might not look good. The top part of the window under the transom might end up having window trim right at eye level depending on height of person.

Has anyone seen rectangular transoms done effectively on houses with 8 foot ceilings?


    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 1:18PM
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I have seen it done with floor to ceiling windows and look good. The issue is really the matter of headers. It restricts the total height you can have of a window in a wall.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 4:21PM
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Thanks GulfBreeze,

Today our architect clarified that we can't go higher than 3 inches above the regular height windows. It related to available square footage due to a change of cladding material between brick and siding and second floor thus being a bit cantilevered out. So, we have decided to cancel the transom windows, and have all the windows in our house be the same height as the door frames so window and door trims matched up.

Thanks for your help.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 6:41PM
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Carol, might I suggest, if you still read this thread, to look into Oriel window styles (larger tops than bottoms). They will give the look of a tall room and a nice viewing area. To expand on that, look to lower them closer to the floor as this will add to the look.

If you want to get "crazy" add in a grid at the very top of the window that would "simulate" a transom with a single vertical grid line.

Of course I don't know what kind of house you are in, so this is all guess work.

Remember, don't cheap out on your windows as windows can account for up to 50% of your cooling/heating lose.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Hi GulfBreeze,

Thanks for these extra tips. I checked out the Oriel windows styles. I like them, but we were planning on doing casements for our windows so I am not sure how they would blend with the other windows. Do you think they would? We have made sure many of our windows are lower to the floor. I think your idea of a simulated transom is cool! Can you elaborate a bit more on this idea (i.e. how much of the window would have a grid, what the grid lines would look like, etc) Currently our plan is to leave the grids off most windows. Having the two large windows that flank the french doors fitted with these grids for part of the window might give these two windows a special feature. We are certainly looking into quality windows -- Canada is cold.

I appreciate your help!


    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 1:06AM
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I wish I had a picture of a window we did for a contractor, but I don't. But if you can imagine a single horizontal SDL grid about 12" below the top of the window, that is what it looked like.

If you are doing casements, then I can imagine using picture or awning windows at the bottom and then a tall casement on top of it. Kind of a reverse transom look. I think that would look good.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 8:36AM
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Hi GulfBreeze,

Thanks for the clarification. I like both of these ideas. We will discuss your ideas with our designer. You've been very helpful. After I speak to her, I may be back with more questions. Hope you don't mind.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 8:40PM
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