Clean, green bedroom with windows.

8 Common Types Of Windows For Your Home

Michelle Giorlando4-Minute Read
UPDATED: August 31, 2022

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Windows add so much to our homes: including airflow, character and light, obviously. Replacing or repairing your windows can help lower utility costs and elevate the look of your home.

Choosing the right new windows is important  for both practical and aesthetic reasons. If you’re trying to decide what style to choose and what you can afford, get quotes from top-rated contractors in your area. They’ll have recommendations to suit your situation.

Because windows are an investment, it’s valuable to know the different types of windows and some pros and cons of each before you choose.

8 Kinds Of Windows

There are a variety of window types to choose from. Window size and quantity are often an expression of a house’s overall architectural type and replacements should be considered from this perspective. Sizing of windows can vary widely, especially for older homes or those with previous customized window work. Whether you’re looking to increase energy efficiency or simply add more natural light to your home, there’s a window type for you.

1. Single-/Double-Hung Windows

Single or double hung window with flowerpot set into a brick wall.

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Single- and double-hung windows are named by the way they open. Single-hung windows open only at the bottom, and double-hung windows open both at the bottom and the top.

On the pro side, there are many benefits:

  • They are generally more affordable (especially single-hung) than other types.
  • They tend to be standard in many homes, so there’s often a variety of styles to choose from.
  • Double-hung are easy to clean; they open inward, making them a good choice for upper floors or hard-to-reach places.
  • They’re energy-efficient and allow for excellent airflow.

There are also some cons to consider:

  • As the windows age, they’re more prone to air leaks, making them less energy efficient later.
  • The hardware requires some maintenance – you’ll need to lubricate the tracks so the windows open easily, and you may need to replace the springs that open upper panes.

2. Casement Windows

Exterior home wall with open casement window that opens from the side.

Another common type of window is the casement window. Casement windows open from the left or right, instead of from the top or bottom. They’re opened with a hinge and crank.

These windows have several benefits:

  • They can optimally ventilate a room better than most other windows.
  • Casements are weathertight, making them very energy-efficient
  • Easy access to both the inside and outside of the windowpanes mean they’re easy to clean and maintain

Casements have a few drawbacks:

  • They’re more expensive than other types.
  • The frames are more exposed to the elements, which can weaken the seal and frame over time.
  • If the crank mechanism rusts or breaks, it increases the ability of someone to break in.
  • They’re particularly difficult to install an air conditioning unit in.
  • There are size limitations, so they aren’t optimal for every window size. 

3. Bay Windows

Bay window jutting out from brick wall behind a garden.

Bay windows are made up of three or more windows angled together so they extend out past the wall of the house.

Bay windows have a lot of positives:

  • They add a lot of natural light to a space and offer a wider view.
  • They’re strong and durable
  • They can add square footage into your home. 
  • They’re a beautiful design element – their sills make an excellent roomy shelf or seat.

There are some negatives to consider:

  • They can be expensive to install, as they require a lot of framing and support.
  • Window treatments can be more expensive because of the number of windows and may need to be customized.
  • While the windows let in lots of light, this means they’ll let in more heat.
  • In the winter, the large uninsulated surface area can let more cold air let in.

4. Awning Windows

Line of awning windows along wall that open from the bottom.

Awning windows are a cross between casements and single-hung windows. They open with a hinge and crank, but open from the bottom, meaning the windowpane swings out from the bottom like a skirt.

There are many pros of awning windows:

  • They allow for excellent ventilation.
  • They tend to be more affordable than other windows.
  • They’re very versatile and can be placed higher for security and privacy.
  • The awning aspect allows you to have open windows during rainstorms.

There are some cons:

  • The outside panes are hard to clean.
  • They tend to run smaller than other window options.
  • The hardware and frames can get warped or worn down over time.

5. Hopper Windows

Hopper window that opens from the top.

If an awning window is like a skirt, a hopper window is like a cup. These are hinged on the bottom and open from the top.

There are positives to consider:

  • They have great ventilation capabilities since they’re often installed up high, and the panes can open nearly vertically.
  • They’re energy-efficient because of their smaller size and tight seal.
  • They’re often installed in basements, so they bring in a lot of natural light.

There are also a few negatives:

  • Their opening and the proximity to the ground means they accumulate more dirt.
  • You can’t open them in wet weather.
  • They can jut out into outdoor spaces.

6. Sliding Windows

Sliding windows in an empty room with trees outside.

Sliding windows are simple windows that slide open from the side. Some types have only one pane that can slide open, while others have both.

Some pros:

  • They’re one of the most affordable options for windows because of their basic design.
  • They’re excellent at ventilation.
  • They’re easy to use because their mechanics are simple.
  • They take up less space than windows that open inward or outward.

Some cons:

  • The tracks can fill with dirt and debris, making the windows harder to open and close.
  • The contact point between the two windows isn’t always sealed well, allowing drafts.
  • They can be difficult to keep clean.

7. Picture Windows

Picture window spanning the room of a house and fixed into place.

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A picture window is a type of fixed window, meaning it’s a pane of glass fit into a frame that doesn’t open.

There are several benefits:

  • Because they don’t open, they’re sealed very well.
  • The simple design means they’re generally more affordable.
  • They tend to be larger and let in plenty of natural light.
  • They’re relatively easy to clean and maintain, with no hardware.

Picture windows have some downsides:

  • There’s zero ventilation because they don’t open.
  • The larger the window, the more heat comes through the window.

8. Skylight Windows

Skylight window in an attic bedroom.

A skylight window is another type of fixed window. It’s installed into a home’s roof and offers light and a view of the sky from inside.

Some pros of skylights:

  • They offer a ton of light!
  • This feature makes them very aesthetically attractive.
  • If your skylight vents, it can provide plenty of fresh air.
  • They’re great at heating the room in colder temperatures.

Some cons:

  • They’re expensive to buy and install.
  • Because they’re exposed to the elements so much, your chance of roof leaks and damage is higher.
  • Their life cycle is shorter due to the elements.

Should I Install Windows By Myself?

If you’re considering installing or replacing windows by yourself, you’ll want to keep in mind a couple factors:

  • Do you have any experience or expertise?
  • Is the situation complicated, like installing a bay window, or is it simple, like replacing a fixed pane of glass?

While simple fixes might be doable for a DIYer, you’ll likely want to contact a window professional. They’ll ensure your windows are installed properly.

The Bottom Line:

Now that you’ve considered the types of windows, you can decide which will work best in your home and your budget. Got your fill of window talk? Read more homeowner tips!

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Michelle Giorlando

Michelle Giorlando is a freelance writer who lives in metro Detroit. When she's not writing about homeownership, finances, and mortgages, she enjoys performing improv, gardening, and befriending the wildlife in her yard.