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How to pick the best bathroom windows and install them yourself?

The service life of bathroom windows is short compared to other windows in the house. Regular exposure to moisture and soap-based means affects their longevity, causing mildew growth and rot. If you neglect scheduled window inspections, the chances are you won't spot the signs of deterioration and water damage in time. Ultimately, these critical issues will wreak havoc on your bathroom and lower the house sale value. Read on to learn more about the bathroom windows that are least prone to regular moisture exposure and can serve for years with minimal upkeep. We collected a bunch of handful recommendations on selecting the right window type, frame material, and privacy glass. We hope this guide will help you spend your home improvement budget the right way and enhance your bathroom space.

How to pick the best bathroom windows and install them yourself?

Table of contents

  1. Does a bathroom need a window?
  2. Valid reasons to install a window in your bathroom
  3. The primary types of windows for the bathroom
  4. The best materials for the bathroom windows
  5. How to ensure the ultimate privacy when you have a window in the bathroom?
  6. The telltale signs that show it's time to replace your bathroom window
  7. Tips on how to install a bathroom window without professional help
  8. Why hire a professional bathroom window installer?

Whether remodeling the existing bathroom or building the new one from scratch, additional attention should be paid to proper ventilation. Unlike any other space in your home, the bathroom is a damp environment. Each time you take a shower or soak in the tub, steam accumulates in the air and settles on the walls, baseboards, and ceiling. If not giving this moisture a place to escape, it will build a climate for the growth of fungi. That is where a fully operable bathroom window can come in handy. It's enough to open it for 15-20 minutes after a shower to reduce humidity in the room. A few operable windows can promote even better ventilation. However, if the space is limited, one small bathroom window of a hopper type should be enough. Professional remodelers also recommend adding a fan or extractor for better moisture absorption.  

Does a bathroom need a window?

The simple answer to this question is "yes." However, if going into detail, you have to install a window in your bath to ensure adequate airflow as this place is exposed to excessive humidity. A vent fan can also ventilate the room, drying up the moisture. However, if you have a full bathroom with a shower, tub, or even jacuzzi, a fan alone might not be able to handle accumulating humidity. That is why at least one window should be installed. By the way, this is a simpler and more affordable option to remove unwanted moisture.

Let us crunch some numbers to see the difference between spending on the vent fan and the bathroom replacement window. The average cost to install a bathroom fan is $395. Plus, add the price of the exhaust fan itself, which ranges from $150 to $550 depending on the brand, output, and additional functions. Bathroom window replacement can be handled without professional assistance if you have the needed skills, tools, and expertise. The window unit itself can cost from $240 to $490. 

As you can see, the economic benefit of installing bathroom windows is evident. They're more affordable and require fewer skills to install. However, if the budget allows, you can acquire both a vent fan and a window to prevent fungi spread, rot, and other negative consequences of permanent humidity in the bathroom.

Valid reasons to install a window in your bathroom

Moisture and a warm environment cause rapid bacterial growth, putting your family members' health in jeopardy. Proper air circulation in your bath is the best way to prevent it. Besides, windows are intended to bring natural light into the room. Even a privacy glass transmits the solar rays, making the area brighter and cozier. Designers recommend incorporating windows into limited-sized bathrooms to enlarge the space. Another crucial aspect of installing windows in your bathroom is the increased property value. While it may seem not obvious, windows make a house more attractive to a potential customer. And last but not least, when remodeling the bathroom, you should pay attention to the building codes claimed by the local authorities. The norms might vary from state to state, but most require installing either a fully operable window or an exhaust fan.

The primary types of windows for the bathroom

There's an array of window options to choose from, and below, you will find the list of the best ones from the point of their operability, moisture resistance, and energy efficiency:

  • Casement windows. These windows are suitable for bathrooms of any size as they are tall and can be opened outward. Thanks to the maximized glass space, the room gets enough sunlight during the day. 
  • Hopper windows. This type of bathroom window has a rectangular shape and is opened inwards. Hopper windows are usually located high up on the wall above the tub or a shower cabin for better air circulation.
  • Skylight windows. The bathroom is the best place in the house to use a skylight. This window is set into the roofline, bringing a lot of natural light into the room. It may be fixed or incorporate venting options.
  • Awning windows. These windows are commonly seen in contemporary bathrooms due to their sleek design and high energy efficiency. They're hinged along the top and opened up outward, not blocking the space inside.
  • Double-hung windows. These windows suit every room in the house, and the bathroom is no exception. They can be opened from the top or the bottom for unobscured airflow. The window's sashes can be moved the way you want to create comfortable lighting while retaining privacy. 
  • Sliding windows. These windows are commonly installed over the tub. They are opened side-to-side, making them a perfect way out for small bathrooms. Slider windows may come with 2 or 3 panels within one master frame.
  • Picture windows. These windows are suitable for large family bathrooms with enough space for a freestanding tub. They make a space stylish and allow a lot of natural light into the room. Picture windows are commonly paired with hopper windows to ensure better functionality and ventilation properties. 
  • Transom windows. These are the accent windows commonly installed high on the wall. They are perfect for narrow spaces and provide ample sunlight. The drawback is that transom windows have a decorative function only.

When selecting the new window for your bathroom, consider the size of the room, the overall house style, and its placement (a private yard or a dense building). 

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The best materials for the bathroom windows

When deciding on the frame material for your bathroom window, please pay attention to its energy efficiency and water-resistant properties. For example, wood is not the best option in the bathroom as it absorbs moisture and is prone to rot. Aluminum frames are not vulnerable to water damage, yet they transfer heat which might be a problem if the cold weather is predominant in your area. Most window experts recommend installing vinyl frames as they are not prone to moisture and ensure a decent seal. Please note that your vinyl bathroom window should also have a trim of the same material. 

How to ensure the ultimate privacy when you have a window in the bathroom?

Even if you have a private backyard, it's better to be cautious and use obscure glass for a bathroom window. The glass with a specific pattern or tint aims to protect you from prying eyes. Nevertheless, privacy glass does not fit all window sizes. For instance, if you have picture windows, it's better to use blinds for better privacy as it will be much more complicated to manufacture obscure glass of this size. Plus, unlike privacy glass, blinds allow you to get a clear view from your window any time you want. 

Here are a few privacy enhancement solutions for your bathroom windows:

  • Vinyl shutters. Vinyl is the best material for a damp bathroom environment. It's not prone to crack and rot like wood. Shutters or blinds made of this material have a traditional look with a rustic feel. 
  • Roman shades. Consider roman shades if you seek something functional and chic to add to your bathroom. They ensure ultimate privacy while giving you the freedom to manage natural light transmission into the room. On top of that, these shades absorb sound and can be introduced in almost any bathroom design. 
  • Faux wood blinds. Thanks to the special processing, the blinds made of faux wood have perfect moisture-resistant properties. They are not prone to mildew and cracking. Besides, they look elegant and can become a great addition to both classic and modern bathroom designs. 

The telltale signs that show it's time to replace your bathroom window

Windows in your bathroom are more vulnerable to many external factors than anywhere else in the house. High humidity compromises the lifespan of windows, affecting their visual appeal and energy-efficiency properties, especially if the frames are made of water-absorbing materials. Plus, the metal elements of the window commonly become victims of rust. 

If your windows are not inspected annually, you may at least check them for the avid signs of their deterioration. Here is the list of cases when bathroom window replacement is inevitable:

  • End of the service life. If it's been more than 10-15 years since the last bathroom window installation, it has most likely lost its energy-efficiency properties. It also makes sense to replace shabby bathroom windows when you move into the new house. Otherwise, you may end up paying 20-25% more for the electricity bills. 
  • Sweating windows. Your bathroom windows can become foggy due to the temperature difference inside and outside. It's a common phenomenon. However, if fogginess does not vanish for a long time or cannot be wiped out, it's a worrying sign showing that moisture accumulates between the glass panes. 
  • Outside noises. Another common sign pointing to bathroom window issues is when you hear noise from the outside. Extraneous sounds penetrating your home means that the seal between window frames has been worn out. It may also designate that your bathroom window was poorly installed, and there is a gap between the frame and the wall. 
  • Poor window operation. If your bathroom window does not open smoothly, some of its elements might have failed or rust. Besides, a weather-stripping deterioration might be the culprit.

If you notice any of the mentioned window issues, don't neglect them, as the outcome will be unpleasant. Consider replacing your old bathroom window with the new double-paned one. If you lack funds to get a new energy-efficient unit, you may use a storm window as a temporary solution to prevent drafts and leakage.

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Consider replacing your windows to ensure better home insulation and reduce utility cost

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Tips on how to install a bathroom window 

Whether you're looking to replace your old bathroom windows, the following tips will come in handy. Plunge into this DIY installation instruction to avoid rookie mistakes along the way. 

  • Prepare the needed tools. Check if you have the tools and materials required to replace the window. The installation equipment you should have at hand includes a tape measure, level, utility knife, caulk gun, hammer, screwdriver, and power drill. Don't forget about the safety measures, and get a pair of protection glasses and gloves. 
  • Measure the space. Take the tape measure to determine the width and height of the window. Check the distance from the high point of the sill to the top of the window opening and side to side. You should have three measurements: one at the center, one on the right side, and one on the left side. Make sure to write your measurements down.
  • Remove the existing window. To dismantle the old window, you should first break the seal with a utility knife and then pry the frame construction with a crowbar. Besides, you should identify if the existing window has any stops holding the sashes. If there are any, make sure to pry them off. First, remove the top sash, then the parting stop, and the lower sash. Once the old window is removed, clean the debris and sand down the uneven spots in the window jamb.
  • Prepare the opening. Your task is to caulk the outside window jambs with the help of the caulking gun and then smooth the lines for a smoother finish. After that, dry-fit your window into the opening, leaving a tiny gap around the frame. Apply caulk at the top of the frame and the stops.
  • Install & secure the new window. Once the opening is ready, you can mount a bathroom window. It should be rested against the interior stops and pressed against the caulk. Before installation, you have to drill screw holes in the frame and then drive screws into them.
  • Test the sashes. Now you should check if the sashes are placed evenly in the frame. Apply additional shims in case the new window frame needs to be adjusted. 
  • Fill in the gaps. The final touch of the installation process is filling the gaps around the window using spray foam. More significant gaps are better filled with backer rod weather-stripping to ensure uncompromised insulation. 

Why hire a professional bathroom window installer?

If you have сarpenter's skills and love to make home improvement jobs on your own, installing a window without professional help may seem tempting. However, the instructional videos and step-by-step guides cannot show every aspect of the installation process. That is why things may go awry in reality. On top of that, DIY window installation is not financially viable as you need to spend a pretty penny on the right tools. Another problem is that poorly performed work may result in compromised insulation and cost you hundreds of bucks in the long run. 

It's hardly possible for a non-specialist to replicate the quality of a professional window contractor. You can give it a try, but the advantages of hiring an expert speak for themselves. Contractors with years of experience behind their belts can advise you on the best bathroom window option considering its moisture-resistant properties, longevity, style, and other criteria. On top of that, they will pick a suitable frame material, perform an airtight installation, and ensure the window's ultimate performance. Licensed window pros know the correct steps to complete the job successfully, from the proper sealing to accurate measurements and building norms alignment.

If you want to save yourself the trouble and install a bathroom window in a few hours, seek a certified contractor in your county. The best way to do that is by leaving your request on the HomeQuote contractor-matching platform. We're committed to leaving no stone unturned to find you the reputable professionals to meet your budget and requirements. With us, you can compare the quotes from local pros and get as much time to weigh up the offered options as you need. 

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