Window Types Guide

Windows are a fundamental part of your home. The window types you choose will determine how much light reaches the interior and what type of view you get from each room. Installing the wrong type of window can make your home feel poorly lit and closed off. Our window types guide will lay out the different window types and names and help you choose the best windows for your home.

 

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Your guide to window types

When choosing window types, there are a few key components to take into consideration. First is whether you want the window to open or remain sealed. If you do wish to let fresh air in through your windows, you’ll have to decide how you want them to open: by sliding, pushing, cranking, or on a hinge. Different window types also come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the size of the room and the location of the windows.

Window types overview 

There are many different window types, each with its own style, shape, and opening mechanism. Here are a few of the most common window types and names:

  • Picture windows consist of one single pane that frames the outdoor view, creating a picture effect. These windows do not open and are also referred to as fixed windows.
  • Double hung windows are a very common type of window, especially in older homes. This type of window has two panels, one on top of the other, each of which slides up and down. 
  • Glider windows also slide to open. However, this type of window has a panel that slides sideways to open and close.
  • Casement windows operate on a hinge, very similar to a door, and are often opened and closed using a hand crank.
  • Awning windows are just like casement windows: they use a hinge to open. However, the hinge for these windows is located at the top of the panel.
  • Bay windows are often very large in size and made up of one or more different window types. They extend outward past the exterior wall of the home, creating a three-dimensional effect.
  • Transom windows are small windows added on to the top of a door or window to let in additional light. Some transom windows can be opened, but many are fixed windows.  

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Benefits of different window types

If you’re looking to let in plenty of light, a picture window is your best bet. Not only do these windows illuminate rooms beautifully, they also give a completely unobstructed view of the outdoors. However, a picture window isn’t your only option. Bay windows are also a great way to make a room feel bigger, and these window types have the added bonus of creating space for a cozy reading nook or bench. If you’re going with smaller windows, you can always simply add a transom window for more light.

Of course, one of the biggest factors to take into consideration is the design of the window. If you’re styling your home with a classic look or are remodeling a historic home, you’ll probably want to stick with double hung windows. However, if your home is more modern, picture windows and those with larger glass panes will give you more versatility. These window types even allow you to use geometry to your advantage and create corner windows if you so choose.

Drawbacks of different window types

One major drawback to picture windows is that they don’t open. While these windows are nice to look through, you won’t be able to enjoy fresh air from inside your home. A fix for this is to create a bay window instead, which can at least open partially on each side.

When choosing a window that opens and closes, be conscious of a few potential cons. Casement and awning windows that operate on a crank can be difficult to open, especially when the many moving parts age over time. Double hung windows and casement windows, meanwhile, can only be opened on one side at a time. 

One feature of windows that many homeowners forget is that they can also act as a secondary escape route in case of fire. Some types of windows, however, will be impossible to exit through. These include fixed windows, which can’t be opened at all, and awning windows, whose openings are typically too small to climb through.

Finally, you should think about how you plan to clean your windows. Fixed windows on higher floors will need professional cleaning from the outside as they can’t be safely reached. Take this cost into consideration when purchasing these window types.

Window reviews

Customer reviews are an important factor to consider when purchasing new windows. Look through the product listings on major retailers’ websites, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, where you’ll find thousands of customer reviews. You can also check with independent ratings websites such as Consumer Reports, which has its own replacement window buying guide. For energy efficiency, check out the energy performance ratings from Energy.gov. Highly rated windows can help reduce your energy bill through better insulation.

By understanding the different window types and names, you’ll be in a better spot to choose windows that make your home appear brighter and help interior spaces feel larger.