Consider Style, Function and Energy Efficiency
Windows have two functions: they allow natural light into your home and provide ventilation. However, they also add to the character of your home and help to define its overall style. Today's windows are highly energy-efficient and will save you money on heating and cooling costs. There are many types of windows to choose from, and it's best to research all of your options before starting a home remodeling project or making plans to build a new custom home. At Meridian Homes we've been helping clients in the Washington, DC area select the perfect windows for their homes for many years. Here is our guide to choosing the right windows for your home.
1. Understanding The Types Of Materials Used To Make Windows
Most styles of windows are available in different kinds of materials. There are pros and cons to each material in terms of appearance and maintenance.
- Wood window frames are versatile because they can be painted or stained, but they also require regular maintenance.
- Vinyl windows are very energy efficient, are available in white or wood-grain finishes and require very little maintenance.
- Aluminum windows can support a large expanse of glass in a thin frame, but often require double-glazing to comply with energy efficiency regulations.
- Fiberglass frames are strong, durable, low maintenance and provide good insulation.
- Wood-clad windows can offer the best of a combination of materials. For example, wood frames can have vinyl or aluminum cladding to create a low-maintenance exterior and make the windows more energy efficient.
2. Customizing The Look Of Your Windows
Window grilles are decorative and divide the glass into smaller panes. When choosing a style of window, keep in mind that you can select from several types of window grilles, or you may choose to have no grilles at all, depending upon the look you want. Architecturally traditional homes often have windows with grilles, while many contemporary homes have windows with no grilles for a sleek look. Arts & Crafts style homes tend to have a combination of windows with grilles and without.
True divided light means having individual, small glass panes that are divided by grilles. Simulated divided window grilles provide the look of true divided light, but allow for greater energy efficiency since the glass is one large pane. There are grilles that snap into the window frames but are removable, and some that are between the panes to make it very easy to clean the glass.
3. Selecting Energy Efficient Windows
Most windows sold today are double-pane, since single pane windows are not energy efficient at all. However, the most energy efficient type of window is triple-pane insulated glass. Upgrading to a vacuum-sealed argon fill between the panes can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of either a double or triple-paned window.
Adding a low-emissivity coating (low-e) provides an invisible layer of metallic oxide that reduces the amount of heat that passes through the glass. Most new windows sold now offer a low-e coating, and it may save you in heating and cooling costs in the long-run to add this feature.
4. Choosing Windows For Style And Function
The right windows can dramatically enhance the look of a home. When choosing windows for your new custom home or when you're remodeling your current residence, consider the architecture of your home and how each window will function in each room. Here are the top 6 types of windows that are most commonly found in homes today.
Double-hung windows have two sashes, one upper and one lower, that slide vertically. For clarification, a sash is the square or rectangular frame that contains the window glass. With a double-hung window, both sashes can open to increase air flow: warm air can escape through the upper sash and cooler air can enter through the lower sash. If you have small children or pets, you can keep the lower sash closed for safety and only open the top sash to allow for ventilation. Some double-hung window models tilt inward for easy cleaning of the inside and outside of the glass, too.
With a single-hung window, the lower sash slides open vertically, and the upper sash remains stationary. Single-hung windows tend to be more affordable than double-hung windows because they cost less to manufacture with fewer moving parts and they are cheaper to install. However, they are more difficult to clean and offer less ventilation since the upper panel is fixed in place.
A casement window is hinged on one side and opens by swinging outward or inward by a crank handle. Casement windows allow for great ventilation and have weather-tight seals when they are closed. Newer casement windows feature no muntins that divide individual panes of glass, so they offer a clear view to the outdoors.
Picture (Fixed) Windows
Picture windows, also known as fixed windows, come in many shapes and sizes. They are designed to be low-profile frames that offer unobstructed views to the outdoors. They allow in natural light to brighten an area, but they do not open.
Awning And Hopper Windows
An awning window is hinged at the top and opens out from the bottom with a crank handle. A hopper window has hinges at the bottom and opens out from the top. These types of windows are often installed above, below or alongside another type of window.
Sliding windows have one moving panel that slides to the left or right to open. These types of windows do not project outward, and have a contemporary look. They also offer easy access to fresh air in a room that may need extra ventilation.
Consult with a professional homebuilder to understand the costs of each type of window and how they will fit aesthetically with the style of your newly remodeled or custom-built home. Choosing the right style of window will not only enhance the beauty of your home, but will give you years of pleasure each time you glance outdoors.