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Window buying guide: Consider different types of windows for your home

This comprehensive buying guide is made to help you weigh all the pros and cons of modern and relatively outdated windows available in today's US market. We covered everything from window materials and styles to specific features and possible drawbacks. Having all this information at hand, you will avoid unpleasant surprises along the way and be fully prepared to make the right choice. Bookmark this guide and share it with friends who're about to replace windows in their homes. We bet the additional information won't go amiss when it comes to such a considerable home improvement project.

Window buying guide: Consider different types of windows for your home

Table of contents

     1. Learn the difference between new construction and replacement window types

     2. How to decide on the right window frame material?

     3. The primary types of windows for home: Features, advantages, and drawbacks

      3.1. Classic window types

      3.1.1. Single-hung window

      3.1.2. Double-hung window

      3.1.3. Casement window

      3.1.4. Awning window

      3.1.5. Sliding window

      3.2. Large window types

      3.2.1. Bay/ Bow window

      3.2.2. Garden style window

      3.2.3. Picture window

      3.3. Functional window types

      3.3.1. Egress window

      3.3.2. Skylight window

      3.3.3. Storm window

      3.4. Decorative accent window types

      3.4.1. Arched window

      3.4.2. Round window

      3.5. Glass block window types

       4. Key takeaway

The American window and door industry has been rapidly growing over the last decade. The market's size struck $162 billion in 2021 and is expected to exhibit over 6.2% CAGR from 2022 to 2027. This is due to increased renovation and replacement activities caused by an emerging trend in green building practices. With the growing demand for conscious energy consumption, new energy-efficient materials continue flooding the market, opening up countless opportunities for American homeowners. 

Considering the abundance of unit options, frame materials, and glazing panes, an uninformed person may easily get overwhelmed selecting new replacement windows for their home. To make a well-informed decision, one should be clued up on the window styles and operational principles.

This comprehensive guide is made to help you get a rough idea of different window types, their characteristics, installation principles, advantages, and drawbacks. Keep reading to sort things out and make the right investment. 

Learn the difference between new construction and replacement window types

Before we get into the specific window types, let us discuss the difference between new construction and replacement options. Generally speaking, these windows are mutually exclusive, with the only difference in their purpose. Replacement windows are used when the existing unit should be removed, while new-construction options are installed when the window frame is being built. 

New construction windows have nailing fins, which are rims that make it possible to stabilize them in a facade's rough openings. Replacement windows go without flanges. They are built into an existing window frame with fasteners that run through the window assembly. 

If you're intended to do a complete house overhaul, including exterior and interior improvements, you should evaluate the condition of window frames and openings. If they need to be reinstated, you better apply new construction. Replacement windows, in their term, are good to use if the frames are not near the end of their service life. No matter your renovation purpose, you'll have a selection of large window types varying in styles, looks, and materials. 

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How to decide on the right window frame material?

When facing the choice of a window frame, you should pay attention not only to the visual component but material. Today's market offers an abundance of options varying in longevity, upkeep requirements, and energy efficiency. 

We made up a list of the most sought-after window frames in the US to help you make an informed purchase decision.

  • Vinyl

Vinyl windows are made of solid, impact-resistant polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with hollow chambers inside that control heat exchange and resist condensation. They come in various colors and do not require extra painting or finishing. PVC is not prone to rot or fade. However, the frames might dull in extreme heat conditions except for the white ones.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum windows are resistant to corrosion and maintenance-friendly. They're lasting, lightweight, and simple to use. In terms of noise reduction, aluminum outperforms wood and vinyl. However, this material is more expensive than vinyl and has a lower insulation level. Aluminum windows have poor resistance to temperature drops, so it's not recommended to apply them in extremely cold or hot climates.

  • Wood

Wood is widely used in decorative accent window types. Frames made of this material have an aesthetically appealed look, suiting both rustic and modern designs. They can be painted into a suitable color yet require additional priming. Wooden frames don't conduct heat and cold. They are less prone to condensation than other materials. However, the regular impact of the elements can make these windows rot- and leak-prone. There is also a threat of insects or termites. 

  • Fiberglass

Fiberglass windows are distinguished by their firmness and water resistance. They are long-lasting, simple to maintain, and often used in modern types of windows. Thanks to the low heat conductivity and thermal properties, frames made of fiberglass do not change their shape with time. They are not prone to corrosion and rot and can easily withstand drastic weather conditions. Nevertheless, fiberglass windows are more costly than other types of windows. Nevertheless, fiberglass windows are more expensive than other types of windows. On top of that, they offer fewer color options and are often limited by classic white and black shades.

The primary types of windows for home: Features, advantages, and drawbacks

There is a lot to consider when you're in the market for replacement windows or units for new construction. First and foremost, you should base your choice on the set of features you want them to have. Functionality is what should be put at the top of the list. Decide if you wish to open your windows or not. If yes, then how do you want them to open? Think about the amount of light they should let in and their looks from the inside and outside. On top of that, your new windows should be easy to clean and maintain. 

Keep in mind that the operating style of the window determines the comfort of your living. So, please, get your hands on the advantages and disadvantages of each window style. For your convenience, we made up a handy list of them. 

Classic window types

Single-hung window

General characteristics. Single-hung windows are considered to be the cheaper double-hung counterparts. They have two separate sashes, with the lower one being operable and the upper one fixed in place. Single-hung window construction allows for pivoting the sash inward to clean the exterior side.

Advantages 

  • Ideal for small spaces and narrow areas
  • Best for cost-conscious homeowners
  • Have a high energy efficiency level 

Disadvantages

  • Offer limited ventilation
  • Can be cleaned from the outside only

Double-hung window

General characteristics. Double-hung windows are commonly seen in residential properties around the country. These window types feature two large sashes that are operable and can be slid down within vertical tracks. This construction allows better air circulation and easy upkeep. 

Advantages

  • Best for traditional and modern homes
  • Widely presented in the US market
  • Reasonably priced due to the high competition
  • Easy to operate thanks to the springs
  • Exterior surfaces can be cleaned from inside 
  • Offer regular airflow inside the room
  • Perfect for narrow spaces

Disadvantages

  • Counterbalance springs and sash cords can wear out or break over time
  • If mounted low, these windows pose a danger to your little ones

Casement window

General characteristics. Casement windows are the second most popular replacement units after double-hung ones. Thanks to their horizontal opening construction, these types of windows can be made of solid glass, offering a clear, non-obstructed view. One side of the window remains stationary, while the other can be pivoted out for better ventilation. 

Advantages

  • A good option for narrow outside spaces
  • Make the view less obstructed
  • Provide good airflow inside the room
  • Well-sealed and good for preventing drafts
  • Come in a variety of designs

Disadvantages

  • Cranking mechanisms often get out of order
  • Their size is not enough to use them as egress windows

Awning window

General characteristics. Replacement windows of this type have a sash hinged at the top and tilts out from the bottom. Their operational principle is similar to casement windows. Thanks to their waterproof properties and unique construction that creates awning when opened, these windows can easily withstand heavy rains. Awning windows are commonly seen in below-ground level premises. 

Advantages

  • Secure against robbers and home intruders
  • Prevent rainwater from entering the house

Disadvantages

  • Cannot ensure adequate airflow inside the house
  • With intensive use, mechanical cranks quite often fail

Sliding window

General characteristics. Slider windows have side-by-side panels that move horizontally along upper and lower tracks. Their construction is designed to open up half of the window for ventilation. Some slider window types have both moving parts.

Advantages

  • Allow good air circulation inside the room
  • Have a simple design that makes them long-lasting and affordable
  • Make a small room look bigger (suitable for narrow spaces)
  • Can easily open and close

Disadvantages

  • The peak of their popularity is over
  • Require frequent cleaning because tracks tend to fill with dirt
  • Come in limited shapes and sizes

Large window types

Bay/ Bow window

General characteristics. These windows are typically comprised of a central unit flanked by two side windows angled at 30 to 40 degrees. They extend outward from the exterior wall, forming a shelf in the house. Windows of this type come in two options - bay ones that shape a square form extension and bow ones that shape a curved extension. 

Advantages

  • Create a visual centerpiece in dining and living rooms
  • Visually enlarge spaces, offering a panoramic view of the outdoor
  • Add extra space in the room for decorative elements or plants

Disadvantages

  • Require an expert window contractor to install 
  • Cost higher than other glass block window types
  • Commonly develop heat loss issues 

Garden style window

General characteristics. Garden windows are commonly regarded as mini bay windows used for growing plants. These window types have a four-sided construction that extends outward to capture the necessary sunlight for plants.

Advantages

  • Can be used for growing plants and herbs
  • Visually increases the room space
  • Allow a lot of sunlight into the room

Disadvantages

  • Have a poor energy efficiency
  • Cost a pretty penny to install
  • Can block outside space

Picture window

General characteristics. These are large glass windows without breaks and frames. They are fixed and are not meant to open. That is why picture units are commonly paired with other window styles for better functionality. These windows are commonly seen in modern interiors as they create unobstructed views and take little to no space inside. 

Advantages

  • Allow enjoying panoramic views without any obstructions
  • Let lots of light inside the room, making it brighter
  • Enlarge space inside the house
  • Available in multiple designs and shapes
  • Easy and affordable to install 
  • Offer excellent insulation, allowing to cut on energy bills

Disadvantages

  • Don't allow adequate ventilation and airflow 
  • Can be only installed in spaces where egress is not necessary
  • Not suited for areas with a hot climate

Functional window types

Egress window

General characteristics. Egress windows are large glass units with wide openings. They are often installed in basements and serve as an additional safe exit route in an emergency. These windows allow more natural light into underground accommodations and make them feel more welcoming. 

Advantages

  • Allow people to escape the building in an emergency case
  • Use for better airflow in underground accommodations
  • Let more natural light in 
  • Improves the look of the living space

Disadvantages

  • Installation is complicated and costly

Skylight window

General characteristics. Skylight or roof windows are ceiling-mounted units that can be fixed or operable. They are traditionally installed on a roofline to provide extra ventilation and natural sunlight. 

Advantages

  • Serve as overhead lighting fixtures
  • Works best for limited space like attics
  • Improve airflow and allow more natural light
  • Help to exhaust warm air in hot weather
  • Help to heat spaces in winter

Disadvantages

  • Have a short lifespan 
  • Vulnerable to the elements
  • Can cause roof damage
  • Require professional installation 

Storm window

General characteristics. A storm window is the second barrier, which settles on the primary window either inside or outside. This unit is aimed to protect houses from extreme weather conditions such as storms and hurricanes. Storm windows do not fall into the group of replacement units. Nevertheless, homeowners often install them to get similar advantages at a lower cost. 

Advantages

  • Help to keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer
  • Allow better energy efficiency and reduce strain on the HVAC system
  • Cost much lower than other types of windows
  • Increase the energy efficiency of timeworn single-pane units
  • Serve as an extra insulation 

Disadvantages

  • Require regular maintenance
  • May cause condensation

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Decorative accent window types

Arched window

General characteristics. Arched or arch top windows have a square bottom and a  rounded top. They are commonly fixed and installed above standard rectangular windows that provide airflow. They add a luxurious look to the home's interior and exterior. 

Advantages

  • Come in a variety of styles and variations
  • Can be customized by size, color, and design
  • Suit multiple architectural styles 
  • Create an aesthetically pleasing look
  • Bring more natural light into the house

Disadvantages

  • Complicated and costly to install 
  • Fixed units cannot be opened for ventilation

Round window

General characteristics. Round windows are also called an oculus, which means an eye in Latin. They are inspired by Gothic rose windows. These are small glass units of circular or oval form that are often fixed. Round windows can be seen in bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways. They add more natural light and make the room bright and stylish. 

Advantages

  • Add more light to limited spaces or rooms without regular windows
  • Serve as an interior design standalone accent
  • Suit multiple home styles from modern to traditional
  • Enhance home's curb appeal

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to clean and maintain 
  • Don't let fresh air in

Glass block window types

Most of the windows in this category have the same construction with only slight differences. They are used to add light to limited spaces like bathrooms and basements.

These windows are fixed and constructed from separate blocks made of sick glass. They are durable and provide good insulation. Nevertheless, glass block windows cannot be used for ventilation and serve only as a decorative whiff.

Here are a few common options you can come across looking for windows of this type:

  • Wavy glass block window

These glass block windows are typically used in basements and lavatories. The wavy pattern allows light to enter the room while still providing privacy.

  • Clarity glass block window

This glass block window is usually used for kitchen and dining spaces since it delivers enough light. It is the only pattern that does not provide privacy.

  • Ice glass block window

These windows are commonly installed in bathrooms. Due to the frosted pattern, they provide pixelated shadows, which admit light while staying invisible.

  • Diamond glass block window

These windows are smooth to the touch, unlike the wavy and ice glass unites, as the pattern hides inside the block. Diamond glass block windows provide maximum confidentiality, refracting and dispersing the light throughout the room.

Use HomeQuote To Hire Local Window Renovation Pros

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

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Key takeaway

The choice of modern types of windows is really impressive, and the industry continues to grow. According to a recent survey, the demand for windows in the United States is expected to be $33.3 billion in 2023. Therefore, the list of windows production and installation services is getting wider. Expert window contractors can bring most of your ideas to life, ensuring airtight installation. All you need is to find proven professionals to get the result you wish.

HomeQuote is a lauded contractor-matching service you want to have in your corner when searching for a local window pro. We work on a pro bono basis, connecting you with proven specialists in the area you reside. Once you complete a short questionnaire, your request will be instantly sent to as many as five local window contractors. Ultimately, you will get clear-cut estimates to compare offers and spend your remodeling budget wisely. 

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