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Making An Informed Decision On Window Types

500 Washington-17-1.jpgWindows serve many functions. They provide natural light, ventilation, and privacy. 

They also contribute to the atmosphere of a room, add detail to a decorative scheme, and give balance and design to the exterior of the home

Understanding the various window types is important when you decide to remodel your home or build a new one. Doing so allows the windows to provide their optimum contribution to the function and design of your home.

Sliding windows, swinging windows, and fixed windows are the three basic types of windows used in housing construction. Combination windows and overhead windows are also used. 

Use this guide to make an informed decision on which window types work best for your home. 

Sliding Windows

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The most common type of sliding window is the double-hung window. It’s a classic design that has remained popular since colonial times. The main glass area is called a sash. 

The window opens vertically from the bottom, the top, or both. 

Two sashes are held in the window frame. When slid up or down, each sash is held in place by friction, springs, or weights. Double-hung windows are usually tall rather than wide, with both sashes the same size. 

Several advantages are associated with double-hung windows. They are readily available and produced in a wide variety of sizes. They are easy to install and rarely warp or stick. 

They do not project inside or outside to interfere with draperies or traffic. 

The horizontal lines of double-hung windows are considered more attractive and less distracting than the lines of other types of windows. 

Double-hung windows are difficult to clean on the outside. However, many newer types of sashes are easy to remove or pivot inward for cleaning. 

No protection from the rain is provided by open double-hung windows. They are sometimes difficult to open and close when furniture is placed in front of the window. 

Horizontal sliding windows move on tracks at the bottom and top of the windows. They generally contain two movable sales, but only half of the window area can be opened at one time. Screens are mounted from the outside. A wide range of standard sizes are available. 

Swinging Windows 

Types of swinging windows include: casement, awning, hopper, and jalousie windows. Casement windows usually have two sashes hinged at the side to swing outward. Cranks are generally used to open and close casements, but push bars or handles may be used. 

Casement windows are great ventilators. Because the sash swing out, air that would otherwise pass the opening is directed inward. 

Casement windows have several disadvantages. They project outward and may be bumped into easily, so they should not be used near high traffic areas, hobby rooms, or areas for children

They collect dirt easily because of their construction and do not keep out rain when open. Some may consider the vertical lines of these windows distracting. 

Awning windows are hinged at the top and swing outward. They are manufactured as single or multiple units stacked in a single frame. 

The sashes are opened with a crank or push bar and provide good ventilation and rain protection. 

Screens, which are located inside, can easily be removed for window cleaning. 

Hopper windows are hinged at the bottom and swing into a room. A lock handle positioned at the tope of each unit opens them. Designed for low placement on a wall, hopper windows improve air movement and do not interfere much with draperies. 

Hopper windows are usually manufactured as one unit. They are easy to clean, but they interfere with inside room space near the window. Screen must be removed from the outside. 

Jalousie windows consist of a series of narrow horizontal slats, 3 to 8 in. wide, that are held by a metal frame. The slats operate in unison, similar to venetian blinds. 

They open outward, but produce little interference due to their narrow slats. The amount of ventilation is adjusted by using a crank. Screens and storm windows are located inside when used with jalousie windows. 

Jalousies are used where ventilation is a major concern. They do not seal well and allow substantial air infiltration when closed. They are difficult to wash because of the small glass sections. Jalousie windows are produced in a variety of sizes, with increasing width of 2 in. increments and lengths of 2 1/2 in. increments. 

Fixed and Special-Shaped Windows 

The purpose of fixed windows is to admit light and provide a view. They do not permit ventilation. Picture windows, a type of fixed window, are generally oriented to an exterior setting that enhances a view in the living areas

Fixed windows are usually custom made rather than a standard size. 

Special-shape windows, such as triangles, trapezoids, octagons, and circle-top windows, are generally used as an architectural design element. 

They permit daylight, but are rarely designed to open and provide ventilation. The glass in these windows is set in one of the following: a fixed sash mounted in a frame that will match the regular ventilating windows or a special frame formed in the wall opening. Since fixed and special-shaped windows do not open, weather stripping,hardware, and screens are not required. 

Combination Windows 

Fixed windows may be used as units with sliding and swinging windows. Such units are called combination windows. For example, hopper windows are often combined with an upper, fixed window. 

A three-section window may have fixed glass in the center and casements on both sides. 

Awning windows may be placed above or below a fixed window. Combination windows allow an unobstructed view and ventilation. 

Bay and bow windows are combination windows with sections at angles so the windows project out from the structure. Bay windows generally use two double-hung windows with a fixed window in the center. The slide windows are normally placed at 45-degree angles to the exterior wall. 

Bow windows are usually constructed with casement and fixed windows. Standard combinations of four to seven units are common. These window units form an arc that extends beyond the outside wall. 

Skylights and Clerestory Windows 

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Skylights and clerestory windows are used to admit light into areas of a structure that have little or no natural light. 

Skylights are usually located on the roof or ceiling; clerestory windows are placed high on a wall. There use can achieve dramatic lighting effects in a room. Some skylights and clerestory windows may open for ventilation. 

Skylights are available in several basic shapes and sizes as well as unlimited custom designs. Clerestory windows may be a series of standard windows or custom-made, fixed windows. 

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Windows influence the interior and exterior appearance of your home. They provide both a physical and visual connection between two areas. They shield an opening from the elements and provide privacy while allowing light, ventilation, and a broadened view. 

The type you choose depend on the functions to be performed, architectural style of your home, construction considerations, building codes, costs, and personal taste. 


Topics: Exterior, Interiors, Whole House, Lighting