Whether you’re adding new rooms to an existing home, or just remodeling what you already have, windows play a significant role not only in your project’s budget, but also in your home’s beauty, energy efficiency and security. Choosing the right windows can be confusing, however, so it helps to be familiar with some common terms.
Clean, shiny glass not only lets in the light, it opens up your home to the beauty of the outdoors.
- Single, Dual or Triple-Pane: This refers to how many sheets of glass make up the window. The more layers of glass, the more energy-efficient the window; and the more comfortable the interior of your home. Security is another benefit of multi-pane windows, after all, it’s a lot harder for a burglar to break three layers of glass than just one.
- Low-E: Windows with a low-emissivity coating reduce the transmission of heat. This means that your home stays cooler on those scorching summer days, a big plus in sunny California. Low-E glass also cuts down on annoying fading of carpets and furniture near the windows.
- U-value: The U-value of a window refers to how easily it transmits heat. The lower the U-value, the better the window’s insulating abilities and the better its energy efficiency. That’s important when you live in the Southwest, where long, hot summers are the norm.
A window is more than just a sheet of glass, of course, and the frame not only adds to the appearance of the window, it also provides insulation.
- Wood: Wood adds natural beauty to your windows, and it also cuts down on temperature transfer. Wood requires upkeep, however.
- Vinyl: Durable, energy-efficient and budget-friendly, vinyl is a popular choice for window frames. The color selection is limited, though.
- Aluminum: These are best in humid climates or areas prone to high winds. Aluminum is strong yet lightweight.
- Wood-clad: These frames showcase the beauty of wood on the window’s interior, but are vinyl on the exterior for superior durability.
There are many styles of windows. The right choice depends on the room, the design of your home and the window’s function.
- Single-hung: The lower half of these windows slides up and down, making it a breeze to, well, let in a breeze.
- Double-hung: These windows have dual sashes that either slide all the way up and down, or tilt inward, making it easy to allow airflow to circulate through the room.
- Sliders: Sliding windows have a panel that slides horizontally.
- Casement: Pivoting hinges on the inside of these windows lets you crank them open to the outside world.
- Picture: A picture window is large and stationary. It lets in lots of light, adds to the airiness of a room, and showcases a gorgeous view outside the home.
- Bay: Bay windows occupy an alcove that extends outwards from the home. Generally, they are a trio (or more) of side-by-side windows, some stationary and some functional.
- Awning: Hinged at the top, awning windows swing to the outside.
- Accent: An accent window is any small window that adds a touch of decorative beauty to the room. It might be mounted over the front door, on a stairway landing or high up the living room wall. These are stationary windows and come in a wide range of shapes.