Window basics: A double-hung unit has two operable sashes that slide vertically to open or close the window. Where you'll find them: Popular across the country, double-hung windows can be used throughout a home as the main type of window unit. Image courtesy of Ken Linsteadt
Double-Hung Windows: Pros & Cons
Advantages: Double-hung windows are especially effective air circulators: when they're opened at both the top and the bottom (with the glass stationed in the middle of the window frame), warm air flows out the top opening while cool air sails into the home via the bottom opening. Many people also find them the most aesthetically appealing type of window, and they can be customized with internal grilles for extra architectural appeal. Disadvantages: The main disadvantage to double-hung windows stems from the amount of effort it can take to move the window panes, especially for people with back problems or limited strength. If not properly maintained, some double-hung windows will have slippage problems where the top sash won't stay up all the way. Image courtesy of Pella (pella.com)
Single-Hung Windows: Basics
Window basics: Single-hung windows look a lot like double-hung windows, but have one major distinction: they only open from the bottom. Where you'll find them: Like double-hung windows, single-hung units are a good general window and are used throughout the home. They used to be found mainly in starter homes, but now are common in many price ranges. Photo courtesy of Jeld Wen Windows.
Single-Hung Windows: Pros & Cons
Advantages: They're less expensive than double-hung windows, but have almost identical curb appeal value. There's no problem with slippage since they only open from the bottom. Disadvantages: Single-hung windows don't allow the same type of natural air circulation that a double-hung unit can provide. Image courtesy of Andersen Windows (andersen.com)
Awning Windows: Basics
Window Basics: Awning windows are hinged on the top and swing outward. They are usually opened and closed using a crank handle. Where you'll find them: Awning windows are often used in basements where there's not a lot of above-ground exterior wall or smaller spaces that require privacy but benefit from natural light, like bathrooms. You can also often find awning-style windows above fixed-glass picture windows. Image courtesy of Pella (pella.com)
Awning Windows: Pros & Cons
Advantages: The easy-crank operation makes these windows a snap for almost anyone to open and close. Because the entire window is lifted out of the frame when opened, they are good for areas that can benefit from natural air circulation. Awning windows are especially useful in rainy climates since they can be opened slightly during wet weather to allow air circulation without exposing the home's interior to the elements. Disadvantages: The rectangular shape (with the longer sides being the top and the bottom rather than the sides) means awning windows wouldn't work as the main type of window in many home styles. Image courtesy of Andersen Windows (andersen.com)
Window Basics: Casements are side-hinged windows that swing outward to open. They are generally operated with a hand-crank mechanism. Where you'll find them: Casements are becoming more and more popular because of their versatility and their energy efficiency. They can be used as a main window type in many home styles and are popular nationwide. Image courtesy of Marvin Windows and Doors.
Casement: Pros & Cons
Advantages: Because they're not divided like a single- or double-hung window, casement windows can let in a lot of natural light. The crank-out open and close makes casement windows a good choice for anyone with physical challenges that make pushing a window up or down difficult. Casement windows can take on many different kinds of looks using grilles or art glass. Some casement units are even designed to mimic the look of a double-hung window. Casement windows are also one of the most energy-efficient windows available: when air blows against a casement unit, it only serves to further reinforce the seal and keep unwanted air intrusion out. Disadvantages: Some homeowners don't find casement windows as appealing aesthetically as a single- or double-hung unit. Image courtesy of Andersen Windows
Horizontal Slider: Basics
Window Basics: Like a double-hung unit turned sideways, a horizontal slider unit does what its name implies: it opens by sliding left or right. Some horizontal sliders come in three-pane configurations; in these cases, the center pane is fixed and the end panels are the ones that slide. Where you'll find them: Because they offer a large expanse of glass that can still be opened and closed, they're sometimes used in areas where homeowners want the view to be maximized. Image courtesy of Marvin Windows
Horizontal Slider: Pros & Cons
Advantages: If properly maintained, they're simple to open and close. They're easy to find in sizes to meet egress requirements on local building codes, and they can maximize views. Disadvantages: Some people feel horizontal slider windows aren't a very sophisticated or aesthetically appealing choice, especially for high-end homes. Also, while they're easier to operate than single- or double-hung windows, they do still require some strength to open. Image courtesy of Andersen Windows (andersen.com)
Picture Window: Basics
Window Basics: Picture windows are typically large expanses of glass that can't be opened and closed, and thus are fixed windows. Where you'll find them: Any home with a great view probably has at least one picture window. Picture windows are also common in homes with vaulted or very high ceilings, since there's no benefit to the added cost or weight of installing operable windows in an area where they'll rarely, if ever, be used. One common use of the picture window is as an arched window over doors, windows and in vaulted areas. Image courtesy of Pella (pella.com)
Picture Window: Pros & Cons
Advantages: Because they're inoperable, there are no mechanical parts to break on picture windows. This lack of mechanical action also means these units can be less expensive than similarly sized windows that open and close. Picture windows come in many shapes and sizes, and the large amount of glass allows in lots of natural light. Disadvantages: They let in a lot of light, but if picture windows aren't manufactured with coatings to reduce solar heat gain, you may end up feeling the heat in window-walled rooms. In hot climates, this can be a real energy drain on your utilities. Also, because they aren't operable, picture windows obviously don't offer a lot in terms of natural ventilation. Image courtesy of Andersen Windows (andersen.com)
Bow, Bay and Garden Windows: Basics
Window Basics: A bay window is actually a series of three windows connected at 30- or 45-degree angles to one another. A bow window is similar, except they're attached at 10-degree angles and come in three-, four- or five-panel configurations. The less extreme angle of connection and the larger number of panels gives bow windows a more circular appearance, while bay windows are more angled. Garden windows are smaller bay windows. Where you'll find them: Bow and bay window areas are often used to create nooks for eating, reading or sitting areas. Garden windows are often installed over a kitchen sink area, but can be used in any space where a window with a wall ledge is desired. Image courtesy of Andersen Windows (andersen.com)
Bow, Bay and Garden Windows: Pros & Cons
Advantages: They add interest to the home's exterior appearance and provide extra interior living space without adding a lot of square footage to the home's footprint. These window combinations can be made out of fixed or operable windows, or any combination. For example, bay windows often have a picture or fixed window as the center unit with double-hung units at angles to either side. Great for natural light or to create a small space-within-a-space in a larger room. In kitchens, garden windows make a nice place to grow plants or herbs. Disadvantages: If not properly constructed and supported, bow and bay windows can end up with structural problems. Because they do let in a lot of light, it's important to find windows with good ratings against solar heat gain. Image copyright Simonton Windows (simonton.com). Used by permission.
Window Basics: A skylight is a fixed- or casement-style window installed into a ceiling area. Where you'll find them: Skylights can be added to any room with a straight shot to the roof of the home. They work well in rooms where light is inhibited because of overhangs, other buildings or lack of an exterior wall. Image courtesy of Pella (pella.com)
Skylight: Pros & Cons
Advantages: Skylights are constantly evolving, and advances in design mean these high-flying windows are less prone to leaks than they used to be. Some skylights can now be customized with integrated remote-controlled blinds, and advances in heat-resistant coatings mean they're less likely to turn your home into an oven than ever before. Because of their angle, they are excellent sources of light throughout the day. Casement-window-based skylights can be opened and closed for room ventilation. Disadvantages: Being on the roof slope of a home makes skylights more prone to damage from hail or weather-related debris than other windows in your home. Skylights that don't have energy efficient coatings can create heat traps in rooms. Older units may be prone to leaks. Capturing direct light when the sun is at high points can increase UV-related fading on interior furnishings. Image courtesy of Pella (pella.com)
Decorative Glass Windows: Basics
Window Basics: Decorative glass (also called "art glass") is often thought of as something found only on inoperable picture-style windows. And while that's true for vintage and salvage period glass and stained glass, today's decorative glass can be found on many types of windows, including operable ones like awning and casement windows. Where you'll find them: Used in focal areas of the home or in rooms where the homeowner desires added privacy along with visual interest. Because they are often so ornately decorated, these windows are often used only as accent pieces for hallways, foyers, bathrooms or kitchens. Image courtesy of Hy-Lite (hy-lite.com). Used by permission.
Decorative Glass Windows: Pros & Cons
Advantages: Art glass can reinforce a home's style in a clear but subtle way. Art and stained glass windows can add color and light to a room while giving occupants more privacy. Decorative glass windows are often custom items, which gives the home a personal touch. Disadvantages: Like any other prominent decorative item, overuse can be visually jarring. Image courtesy of Andersen Windows (andersen.com) Windows: Style & Design main page