The style of your home plays a big role in the type of window you choose for each room. Several other factors affect the window glass and other features you'll want to use for a particular room. Let's consider some of the things that will influence your decision.
- For a kitchen window over a sink or counter, a sliding horizontal window lets in lots of light and is easy to open when reaching over a counter.
- Awning windows provide a great option for ventilation during rains. They open outward and provide shielding for the window opening. Like horizontal sliding windows, they also can be a good choice above a sink or counter—their crank systems allow for easy one-handed operation.
- Some double hung window models have tilt-in sashes for easy cleaning. In second- and third-story rooms, these windows save you from having to haul out a ladder to clean your windows.
- Think about what furniture or other furnishings you might put in front of a window or patio door inside your house. If a table, for instance, is going to be placed in front of a window, consider a casement window that can be opened and closed with one hand from a crank at the bottom of the window.
- For a French patio door, be sure to consider how you want to use the interior space near it. If your use of this space would conflict with an in-swinging door, consider an out-swinging French patio door or a French-style sliding door.
- For a bathroom window or windows flanking an entry, consider privacy/obscure glass options. These provide privacy without the need for window coverings.
- Transom windows and skylights provide ambient light without compromising privacy.
- If your house is near any source of noise, such as a highway or airport, consider noise reduction (also known as sound control) windows.
- To give your home more curb appeal, it pays to choose your windows carefully. Next to the style of a house (colonial, Cape Cod, ranch, modern), windows are the biggest factor in determining how your home looks to the outside world.
- Most older homes date back to the days when glass only was available in small panes. So it makes sense, when updating older homes to maintain a traditional look through the use of grids and trim.
- Generally, windows in the front of a house should complement the style of the home. For many people, and many home styles, that means a traditional, symmetrical design. This is particularly important in neighborhoods where existing homes set a general style or style is mandated by code. On other sides of the home, you have more freedom.
- Assembled in configurations, windows and patio doors can create a wonderful sense of openness that brings the outdoors in and can actually make a room seem larger than it is. Picture windows can be combined with arch "half round" windows to add grandeur to a room.
- Flank a picture window with operating windows like casement or single hung to provide view and ventilation. Or place awning windows underneath.
- Sliding glass doors (standard or French-style) are a great way to bring in the view without the swing space required by an ordinary door or French patio door.
- Don't forget skylights. These can provide light and a view of blue sky or treetops in rooms that don't have other view options. They're great for stargazing at night.
Safety and Security
- On first floors, you may have security concerns. To keep your home secure, but still enable easy ventilation, you might consider combinations of picture and awning or casement windows. These windows are hard to pry open when locked. For a living room, consider combos of awning windows above or below a picture window.
- Local building codes usually have egress requirements for bedrooms, specifying the size and height of an opening you need to allow in the event of a fire or other emergency. Often, casement or sliding horizontal windows can be a good choice for meeting these codes. Be sure to discuss egress with your contractor or dealer.
- A basement window can be a particular challenge if you're also looking to ensure egress. Horizontal sliders are an excellent way to achieve ventilation and permit egress in window wells.
- If you have walkways or paths near your windows, you may want to consider windows that don't open out (such as horizontal sliders, single hungs and double hungs). That way, you won't block a pathway every time you want ventilation.
- In a child's bedroom, opening only the top sash of a double hung window for ventilation can add an extra measure of safety.
- Tempered glass is extremely strong. When it breaks, it shatters into little pebble-like pieces without sharp edges, reducing the likelihood of injury. Window and door manufacturers offer tempered glass for use in patio doors, side lights and windows in children's rooms, and in many cases, there are required codes for the use of tempered glass in bathrooms. Talk with your dealer or contractor to find out what's applicable to your home.
Controlling Solar Heat Gain
- If your home gets a lot of sun exposure, you'll want to use extra high-efficiency forms of Low-E insulated glass to reject more of the sun's heat and damaging rays while still enjoying window light.
- Windows facing east and west get low-angle sunlight in mornings and afternoons, and windows facing south can get low-angle sun in spring, fall and winter, particularly the farther north you live. All of these conditions can be blinding and especially troublesome in a room used for watching television or working on a computer. High-efficiency Low-E glass, shades, curtains, low overhangs and awnings can be used in various combinations to help alleviate these effects.
Ventilation and Weatherization
- Need air? Consider which way the prevailing winds in your area blow. Maximizing ventilating windows along this line can greatly improve the fresh air in your home. A strategically-oriented casement window can even funnel breezes into your home.
- Is there a side of your house that gets icy blasts of wind? Consider non-operating windows such as picture windows and radius windows on that side. These are among the best options for keeping the elements out of your home while letting natural light in. Be sure to select the most energy-efficient windows you can afford, and keep in mind that smaller windows will be more efficient in these situations.
- In a bathroom, you probably will want at least one operable window to vent moisture so you don't have to rely solely on a fan.