Whether you’re brainstorming designs for your next window project or just trying to identify a window in your home that needs replacement, here’s a quick guide to common window styles, with some basic information about each type of window.
Picture windows, as the name suggests, provide a view of the outdoors, and can be found in very large sizes if desired. Picture window glass may or may not be inset with metal grids, which obstruct view slightly, but can reduce the risk of breakage (especially for large glass) to some degree.
Picture windows are usually fixed, meaning that they do not open. Obviously, a fixed picture window won’t provide ventilation, but permanent seals do have the side benefit of improved energy efficiency.
Casement windows swing open, usually by rotating a hand-crank at the bottom of the window. Casement windows can provide great ventilation, because the entire window opens unlike many sliding window designs. The crank is generally easy to operate with one hand at arm’s length, which means they can be installed in locations that are high or otherwise difficult to reach.
Casement windows are gasketed around all sides of the swinging window panel, so all other things equal, they are usually slightly more energy efficient than sliding windows.
Although quality casement windows can usually be expected to work trouble-free for their lifetime, the crank mechanism on some older casement windows may eventually wear and require repair. Another point to consider is that it may be difficult or impossible to reach the exterior of casement windows to clean them (from inside the house).
Bay Windows permanently extend outward (beyond house walls), and are comprised of several angled window panels. Usually found in kitchens, bay windows can provide wide peripheral views that flat windows cannot.
Typically, the angled side windows can be opened, allowing for a good amount of ventilation.
Single Hung Windows
Single Hung Windows, typically vertical sliders, are often installed in smaller rooms such as bedrooms or bathrooms. “Single” hung refers to the fact that only the bottom sash opens, as opposed to double hung windows, where both windows can be opened.
Single hung windows are generally less expensive than similar double hung models.
Double Hung Windows
Double Hung Windows are similar in appearance to single hung windows when closed. However, “double” hung means that both sashes can be opened. For obvious reasons, a double hung window is able to provide better ventilation than a similar sized single hung window.
While the example picture here shows a tilting (or “hinged”) style, double hung windows are also available in sliding varieties (although both sashes on a sliding model cannot be opened simultaneously).
In some situations, double hung windows may be safer (than single hung windows) for those with small children or pets, as the top window can be opened while the bottom remains latched.
Awning Windows are essentially casement windows that are oriented to swing open vertically. Like casement windows, awning windows provide good ventilation and typically seal well.
Awning windows are often found in bedrooms. They can also be installed in high or narrow places (like above doors or other windows), because the crank mechanism is relatively easy to operate even while reaching.
Horizontal Sliding Windows
Horizontal Sliding Windows are probably more common than any other style, because they are versatile and relatively cost-effective. Horizontal sliding windows are often wider than vertically-opening single or double hung windows.
Horizontal Sliders are available in single-slider or double-slider varieties.
Unlike some casement or awning windows, it’s usually easy to clean the outside of a horizontal sliding window from inside the house. On the other hand, they are generally considered slightly less energy efficient than hinged windows, and may occasionally accumulate dirt/grime in their sliding channel.