6 Common Types of Windows You Need to Know for Your Next Renovation
Knowing types of windows seems like a pretty specific skill—not like knowing how to hang curtains or how to clean windows, which are pretty universal pieces of knowledge anyone living in a space with windows should have. Being able to identify the different types of windows or knowing window anatomy is something that, for most people, only comes up in certain situations: when it’s time to pick new windows, build a new home, or tackle a huge renovation, or even when they’re just admiring the light levels in a friend or neighbor’s home.
If and when one of those events occur, though, not knowing your types of windows can put you way behind the curve and add extra stress to the process. Windows are an integral part of any home—there’s a reason people put so much emphasis on natural light in their spaces, and windows are the key to that great illumination—so knowing how to talk about and pick them is vital to a successful home improvement project.
New to the world of windows? Never fear: Here, we’ve broken down six common types of windows you’re likely to see in showrooms or hardware stores, so you can get an idea of what windows you like and what might work best for your space. Borrowing examples of types of windows from our friends over at Marvin, the makers of master-crafted, premium-quality windows and doors, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of each type of window, so any window shopper knows what they’re getting into.
Read on to finally learn the difference between a casement window and a fixed or picture window, and then go forth and conquer your window-shopping challenges—just be prepared to shock salespeople, contractors, and more with your newfound knowledge.
What it is: A window that is hinged on the right- or left-hand side and opens outward with a turn of a crank handle or a push.
Pro: This type of window offers excellent ventilation. And since this model is sealed all the way around when shut, it boasts a low air-leakage rate and good noise reduction.
Con: Because it swings out, it won’t work near a walkway or a deck. The crank can get tedious.
Double Hung Window
What it is: This window type features two sashes (movable panels) that slide vertically open and closed.
Pro: Opening both the top and the bottom creates a natural convection—cool air comes in at the bottom and warm air escapes out the top. Many models tilt inward, so you can scrub the panes from the inside.
Con: The horizontal rail in the middle obstructs your view.
Picture (or Fixed) Window
What it is: It doesn’t open but offers unobstructed views.
Pro: A small one can brighten up a stairwell, while a large one showcases an amazing vista. A fixed window comes in many shapes. Plus, no drafts here: It’s completely airtight.
Con: You won’t get any ventilation, of course, and you’ll need to clean the exterior from the outside.
What it is: Similar to a casement window, but hinged at the top.
Pro: When extended, the glass slopes downward, so the window can be left open when it rains. It can be used as a clerestory (a window near the top of a wall) to let hot air escape.
Con: Offers only partial ventilation and is usually too small to use in the event of an evacuation.
Tip: Check labels for a window’s U-value (aim for 0.35 or lower). The lower the number, the better its insulating property.
What it is: A window with a moving panel that slides to the left or the right to open.
Pro: It is easy to open and doesn’t project outward, so it works well next to walkways and patios. The opening is usually big enough for an emergency evacuation. Fixed screens can be added.
Con: You can open only one side at a time.
What it is: A window installed in the ceiling. Some (called roof windows) are fixed; others open for ventilation.
Pro: Some come with remote-control blinds and coated glass that minimizes exposure to UV rays. If you have an attic, you can get sunlight into a dark closet or room via a tunnel-like skylight that runs to the space from the roof.
Con: You’ll have to climb onto the roof to clean the exterior.