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Basics of Window Types and Styles

Windows provide much more for a home than a pleasant draft and a warm wash of light. Aside from the functional aspects they also give a room shape and architectural interest. For this reason windows come in a variety of styles to give homeowners a wide selection when trying to balance aesthetics and function. Below is a breakdown of the most common window types and some of their advantages and disadvantages.

Awning Window

Awning Window

This type of window has a hinge at the top and opens outward using a crank. In fact, you may even consider an awning window a casement window that has been hung horizontally. This window provides a great solution for ventilation. It can be partially cranked open for a slight draft and lets in air on a rainy day without any problems since it opens upward and out. The one snag is that screens for these windows are typically located on the inside, so dirt and dust easily makes its way to the interior.

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Bay and Bow Windows

Bay and Bow Windows

These windows consist of multiple sections and project outward from the main walls of a building. The difference between the two is that bay windows have three sections that form a square or polygon where as a bow window is curved and can have more than three glass sections. These windows are both stylish and functional. They work great for illumination since light can seep through from different directions. Also, the side windows can often be opened for ventilation.

Casement Window

Casement Window

This window, like the awning window, has a hinge and cranks out to open. The difference is that the hinge is located on the side. These windows save space by opening outward. However, the most important aspect of a casement window is that it seals tight to keep the outside air where it belongs.

Double Hung Window

Double Hung Window

This window comprises two sashes and opens when any one of them is slid vertically past the other. These windows are both versatile and aesthetically appealing. However, those with back problems or physical disabilities may find that these windows require a lot of effort to open. Double-hung windows also tend to develop slippage problems with age that can lead to air leaks, so maintenance is of high priority when it comes to double-hung windows.

Glass Block Window

Glass Block Window

This is a modern type of window made of glass squares or rectangles. The fact that the blocks let a lot of light through and distort images makes glass block windows a good choice for natural lighting in places where privacy is an issue. This type has become quite popular in recent years for their modern look. The blocks are available in an array of shapes and sizes.

Hopper Window

Hopper Window

One can think of a hopper window as a casement window that has been turned on its side and opens inward. That is, the hinge is located at the bottom. Hopper windows are most often found in basements for ventilation purposes. It is more of a functional window since choosing a window treatment can be problematic. This window is not a good choice for ventilation on rainy days since the rain can seep in.

Jalousie Window (Louver)

Jalousie Window

Jalousie windows are made up of parallel glass slats that open and close simultaneously. You can think of a jalousie as a glass shutter. These windows are not very popular since they are practically impossible to seal and therefore allow for the free flow of hot and cold air from outside.

Picture Window

Picture Window

These windows are fixed and are designed to offer an unobstructed view of outside scenery. Picture windows are a great choice for rooms where you want to make use of natural light since they tend to be large in size. The problem is that this window is more prone to breakage since it is essentially a single large piece of glass. A picture window that makes up a corner of a room is known as a seamless bent glass window.

Sliding Window

Sliding Window

Sliding windows are very much like double hung windows in that they comprise two sashes and open when any one of them is slid vertically past the other.

Specialty Windows

Specialty Windows

Any window with an unusual shape is termed a specialty window. These include chord windows, trapezoid windows, circle windows, and more. These add architectural interest and in some cases can provide interesting lighting from outside, but as a general rule, these windows are only for aesthetics. They do not open for ventilation purposes.

Tilt-Turn Window

Tilt-Turn Window

The tilt-turn window has become very popular throughout Europe. They tilt inward at the top and also turn a full 180 degrees for more ventilation and easy cleaning. These windows are secure and often come with multipoint locking systems for even more protection.

Making the Choice

You have just soaked up quite a bit of window language and are ready to head to the local home improvement store to get a look at these windows for yourself. Be sure to converse with the salesman to find out which manufacturers produce the best windows. You should consult an experienced interior designer or architect to decide which windows will suit each room of your home.

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Ray East III
Published: April 2010
All pictures by Victoria Naumova