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All about Residential Windows

Posted by Jiab Goodrich on August 28, 2022

The principal function of residential windows is to provide access to natural light and fresh air to your home.  Today’s window has efficient designs and materials in a wide variety of standard shapes, sizes, and designs to keep wind and water outside, offer views and let the right amount of sun shine through.  Most window manufactures recommend that windows should be replaced after about 20 years.  Signs of failing windows include being painted shut, draftiness, and window panes that collect condensation, ice, and frost.   Here are things to know about windows for your renovation, addition, or brand new home:


Types of residential windows: 


  • Bay or bow windows are window combinations that project outward from a home.  A bay window is an excellent space stretcher; the span of windows bring yards of the outdoor view into a room and offers bench seating that doesn’t take away an inch of floor space.


  • Sliding or gliding window opens by sliding one sash horizontally past the other.  This type of window won’t interrupt usable space on the adjacent porches, patio, or walkways.   It can be a good choice for basement locations because it brings in light and meet egress requirements.


  • Casement windows have a hinge at the side and crank to open.  Work well with transom, awning, and picture windows.  Great for over the sink or counter-tops where leaning over and lifting a window open would be difficult.  Casement window provides the tightest weather seal that will stand up well against high winds and rain.  Choose hardware with fold-down handles so it won’t interfere with blinds, shades, and window treatments.


  • Double-hung or single-hung windows open by sliding one sash vertically past another; single-hung opens with only lower half opens, while double-hung window, both halves operates.  These classic styling make for easy lifting, tilting, and cleaning.  They don’t protrude into the adjoining areas such as porches, patio, or walkways.   


  • Awning windows are hinged at the top and open outward.  They come in all sizes and work well with fixed windows.  Awning windows are designed to remain open during a light rain.  Awning unit with fold-down handles provide clearance for window treatments.


  • Fixed or picture and transom windows are stationary windows, mostly architectural,  and are designed to match double-hung, casement, or window with curved shapes or angles other than 90 degree.  It admits light and offers views.


Window frames:


  • Solid wood frame is great insulator against heat and cold.  It is expensive, requires maintenance, and is subject to swelling and contracting.


  • Aluminum frame is strong, affordable, and low-maintenance, but conduct heat and cold.


  • Clad frame is the most expensive type, with wood frame inside and aluminum or vinyl shell on the outside.  Wood frame help minimize the transfer of heat and cold while exterior shell makes window low-maintenance.


  • Vinyl frame is affordable and low-maintenance, but color may fade over time.


  • Composite frame is strong and more durable than wood and vinyl, and price between the two and can be painted to match the home’s décor.


Window panes:


  • Low-E (low-emissive) glass has a thin metallic film coating between two glass panes that selectively rejects some energy wavelengths greatly reducing heat transfer through the glass and reflects heat back to its source, keeping heat inside the house in the winter and out of it in the summer.  Low-E coating glass reduce energy cost and block UV rays while allowing 95 % of natural light to pass through.  New super windows using two low-E coatings or films give windows incredibly high insulating values.


  • Shatterproof glass which has a piece of plastic laminate sandwiched between two glass panes gives homes an extra level of security against break-ins and severe weather.  It protects home interiors from flying debris.  The fabrication produces glass that is two to four times stronger than standard window glass.  These windows which are now required by building code in some hurricane-prone areas are as effective as low-E glass and also help reduce noise transmission.


  • The window’s R-value measures its resistance to heat flow.  The window with higher R-value is more efficient.  A U-factor is the rate of heat transfer from inside to outside of your home.  The window with lower U number is more efficient.


  • Glass with polymer dual-action coating repels dirt by breaking down organic matter as it collects on the glass, minimizing the need for washing windows.


  • Suspended Particle Device Technology both for new and existing windows lets you use a dimmer switch to tint glass panes to regulate the light coming in.


  • Where temperature control is a priority, buy double-pane-impact-resistant glass.  Insulated or double-pane windows have ¼ inch to one inch of air (Argon) between the panes.  Wider airspace and thicker glass has more insulation value.  The cost differential is 50 to 100 percent more than standard glass.


  • Finally, pay special attention to the manufacture’s installation instructions including window flashing and hardware recommendations.  The best quality windows will still fail if they are not installed properly.


Beauty and comfort are the essential quality of your home.  Choose windows that deliver both.  And since windows are the moving part of your home that could bring-in or keep-out external elements to the interior of your home, it is wise to stretch your budget to get the best windows you can afford.

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