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8 Common Types Of Windows For Your Home

Erica Gellerman4-Minute Read
May 12, 2020

Windows are something many of us take for granted until they need to be fixed. But a window does more than many of us realize. They add to your home’s character, let in light and airflow, and help manage utility costs.

While all types of windows help serve these basic functions, they vary substantially in terms of sizing, design style, airflow, natural light and visibility. Because there are so many options, it’s helpful to know basic window types and the different parts of windows before putting money down on a new set.

Window Fundamentals

When you start looking for windows, one of the first decisions you’ll be met with is whether you need new construction or replacement windows.

A new construction window is made for installation when the framing in the wall is exposed. They come with a nailing fin that’s used to attach the window to the frame.

Replacement windows (also called retrofit windows) are made to fit into an existing window opening. They can be installed using the previous window siding and frame. If you remove the nailing from a new construction window, you can usually use it as a replacement window.

As you start exploring different types of windows, it’s important to understand the terminology and the basic structure of a window.

Basic Parts Of A Window

  • Head: The head is the horizontal piece that forms the top of the window frame.
  • Pane: A windowpane is a sheet of glass that is found inside the window frame. It can come in one large pane or a number of smaller panes within one window.
  • Jamb: On the vertical sides of the window, the jambs are the two pieces that make up the side frame.
  • Glaze: How many layers of glass (or panes) are on your window? Single-glazed panes come with one single pane of glass, double-glazed panes come with two panes of glass, and triple-pane glass comes with three panes of glass.
  • Sill: The horizontal piece that forms the bottom of the window frame.
  • Rail: These are the grooves that hold the windowpanes in place. If there are muntin bars in the window, they will extend to each of the rails.
  • Muntin bar: In windows with multiple panes, the muntin bar separates and holds in place each of the frames.
  • Sash: The sash is a moveable part of the window that holds the glass frames together.

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Common Window Types

You may not have noticed before, but there are a lot of window options available. Window size and quantity is often expressive of a house’s overall architectural type and shouldn’t be a decision made lightly. Sizing of windows can vary widely, especially for older homes or those with previous customer window work.

You have some choices to make when it comes to different house window types. To make window shopping a little easier, we’ve rounded up some common window types below:

Single-/Double-Hung Windows

A primary difference between double-hung and single-hung windows is how they open. Single-hung windows open in one direction — only the bottom sash moves. With double-hung windows, both the top and the bottom sash can be opened.

Single-hung windows are often cheaper, but double-hung windows can offer better airflow and easier cleaning.

Casement Windows

Casement windows don’t open up or down — they open either to the left or the right. They’re hinged on the side and can usually be opened with a crank. This allows for full ventilation from top to bottom.

Bay Windows

Bay windows aren’t just one window — they are three or more windows angled together so they extend out past the wall of the house. Bay windows can be an eye-catching design feature that lets in more light and also creates additional space in the room.

Awning Windows

Similar to a hinged casement window, an awning window opens with a hinge. But an awning window is hinged on the top and can be opened from the bottom. These windows allow you to have them open, but remain protected from the rain.

Hopper Window

Hopper windows have the opposite function of an awning window. Rather than being hinged on the top and opening from the bottom, these windows are hinged on the bottom and open from the top.

Sliding Window

Sliding windows slide open horizontally, from one side to the other. You can get sliding windows that open from left to right or from right to left.

Fixed Window

Fixed windows, also called picture windows, are windows that don’t open. They are usually used to frame a certain view.

Skylight Window

A skylight window is a fixed window that is installed into the roofline of a home. A skylight window offers light and a view of the sky from inside. While skylight windows generally don’t open, some may have the option to vent.

Should You Install A Window Yourself?

Getting windows installed can be an expensive job. But is it one you should undertake on your own?

It’s possible to replace windows on your own, but it all depends on your expertise level and comfort with the steps involved in the process. Installing an insert replacement window is going to be an easier job to DIY than installing a full-frame replacement window.

According to Andersen windows, having these tools on hand will help you during the window installation process:

  • Safety glasses
  • Tape measure
  • Power drill
  • Caulk gun
  • Hammer
  • Drop cloth
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Pry bar
  • Putty knife

Window Placement Tips

If you get to decide where to place a window in your home, don’t take this job lightly. Window placement is an important aspect of your home design. It helps define your home’s connection to outside environments, helps to bring in the right amount of natural light and ventilation, and can help you to strategically prevent views you don’t want to see, like a busy road nearby.

When determining where to place your windows, consider the features in each room and how much ventilation and light each room will need. Also, don’t feel like you only need to use one window type through the home. Use different styles throughout depending on what each room needs.

Final Thoughts

While it can seem that windows are an easy thing to decide on and move on from, well-planned window placement and style selection can help save money on utilities and save you time and energy in the long run.

Imagine how inspiring and comforting it would be to live in a home with plenty of natural light and the ability to adapt to the seasons by just opening a window or two. That’s what good windows can help you achieve.

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Erica Gellerman

Erica Gellerman is a CPA, MBA, personal finance writer, and founder of The Worth Project. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Money, Business Insider, The Everygirl, The Everymom and more.