Windows are much more than functional components within a home. They are also architectural elements with the power to enhance the look and feel of any space across factors like ventilation, energy efficiency, natural lighting, and comfort.
But all windows aren’t created equal. In fact, there are several different window design types— each of which provides unique functionality and aesthetic appeal.
In this comprehensive guide to window types, we’ll overview five popular window designs: single hung, horizontal roller, casement, awning, and picture windows. We’ll also highlight their unique characteristics, benefits, and common placements in homes.
Whether you’re just starting to think about upgrading your windows or you’ve already decided to make this home improvement with transformative potential, this resource will help you understand your options to make the most informed purchasing decision.
The Top Five Popular Window Types
1. Single Hung Windows
A classic choice for residential properties, single hung windows consist of two sashes. One of these is fixed at the top, while the other is movable from the bottom. The design of single hung windows is known for its simple and timeless appeal.
Benefits of Single Hung Windows
- Easy Maintenance: Because only the lower sash moves with single hung windows, cleaning and maintenance are relatively simple and straightforward.
- Space Efficiency: They are ideal for rooms with limited square footage since they don’t protrude when opened.
- Less Expensive: They are often the “standard” window seen in homes. While simple in concept, these windows offer a variety of design options to choose from.
Common Placements for Single Hung Windows
Single hung windows are commonly installed in bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. For architectural integrity, they’re often found in traditional and colonial-style homes, although their classic look also integrates well with many interior design styles.
2. Horizontal Roller Windows
Also known as “sliding windows”, horizontal roller windows are designed with two or more sashes that slide horizontally along tracks. Similar in functionality to sliding glass doors, horizontal roller windows are celebrated for their versatility and contemporary aesthetic.
Benefits of Horizontal Roller Windows
- Ventilation: Because sliding sashes can be partially opened depending on the weather and your preferences, they offer optimal ventilation.
- Space-Saving: Sliders are ideal for areas with limited exterior space since they don’t swing open.
- Modern Aesthetics: Sleek, chic sliding windows complement modern and minimalist interiors.
- Expansive Views: Made with large panes of uninterrupted glass, horizontal rolling windows provide beautiful views.
Common Placements for Horizontal Roller Windows
Often installed in bedrooms, basements, and bathrooms, horizontal roller windows are also a popular pick for homes with scenic and/or waterfront surroundings.
3. Casement Windows
Hinged on one side, casement windows open outward like a door. Operated via a crank or handle, they offer a contemporary and elegant appearance.
Benefits of Casement Windows
- Excellent Ventilation: Casement windows maximize airflow when fully opened, making them suitable for letting in a breeze to naturally cool a space.
- Safety and Security: In addition to offering a very tight seal, casement windows are also extremely difficult to force open from the outside.
- Charming Aesthetics: Casement windows have a charming character that compliments a home’s exterior.
Common Placements for Casement Windows
Frequently found in kitchens and bathrooms where maximum ventilation is desired, casement windows are common in homes with Scandinavian and modern interior design styles. However, they’re also quite versatile and work well in everything from farmhouse kitchens to industrial bathrooms.
4. Awning Windows
Also called “project-out windows,” awning windows are similar in design to casement windows except that they are hinged at the top (as opposed to the side), and open outward from the bottom. This offers desirable ventilation but also provides protection from rain.
Benefits of Awning Windows
- Weather Resistance: Even when raining, awning windows can remain open to allow in fresh air and gentle breezes.
- Versatility: When installed higher on walls, awning windows offer heightened privacy without compromising airflow.
- Energy Efficiency: Awning windows provide a very tight seal, which minimizes energy loss.
- Curb appeal: When it comes to boosting your home’s curb appeal, awning windows are uniquely charming.
Common Placements for Awning Windows
Commonly used in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and attics, awning windows are a stylish and savvy selection for coastal homes and other regions prone to frequent rain and humidity.
5. Picture Windows
Picture windows are fixed, which means they consist of a single pane of glass that doesn’t open or close. Depending on your goals, however, what they lack in providing ventilation they more than make up for in enhanced security, uninterrupted views, abundant natural light, and a crisp and clean aesthetic.
Benefits of Picture Windows
- Scenic Views: Picture windows are perfect for framing picturesque landscapes, cityscapes, garden views, and other attractive surroundings.
- Natural Light: Because of their design, picture windows maximize the amount of sunlight that enters a room thereby reducing artificial lighting requirements.
- Architectural Focal Point: Picture windows have the potential to live up to their names. By framing views, they can become an entrancing focal point within a space. They’re also available in designer styles to amp up their architectural allure.
Common Placements for Picture Windows
- Picture windows are often installed in living rooms, dining rooms, and other areas where stunning views can be displayed. While they can coexist harmoniously with many design styles, they’re especially stunning in contemporary homes that embrace open space and all things light and bright.
Additional Considerations When Choosing Windows
While design type is a primary concern, other factors should also be taken into account when choosing a new or replacement window, including aesthetic considerations like shape, size, color, frame material (with vinyl and aluminum being cost-effective options), coatings, and grids.
Furthermore, window types can be combined to create custom configurations. For example, a picture window can be flanked by a pair of casement windows to confer their combined benefits.
On the functionality front, impact glass can also offer tremendous value—especially if you live in a storm-prone region, such as South Florida. In addition to unbeatable protection from fierce winds, driving rain, and airborne objects, high-performance impact windows come with additional benefits. These benefits include security, UV protection, noise reduction, and eco-friendliness. Plus, there are the utility savings that go along with it.
The best part? With stylish, high-performance impact windows in the window type of your choosing, you’ll have optimal protection (and peace of mind) while also meeting your functional and aesthetic wants and needs.