Guide to the 5 Main Window Types You Should Know

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By Kate Reggev
Despite its humble origin as a mere unglazed hole in a wall or ceiling, the window today has evolved to be one of the most complex pieces of a building.

Windows are responsible for bringing light and air into a space, but they're are also critical components to creating a desired aesthetic in both the interior and exterior of a building. Depending on their size, location, and method of operation, they can have dramatically different effects—both visually and environmentally. Today, we take a look at five of the most basic window types, both operable and stationary.

Double-Hung Window 

Double-hung windows are some of the most common types found in older homes, in which two parts, called sashes, overlap slightly and enable both the top and bottom sashes to be slid up or down. This dual-action allows for improved ventilation, particularly during the hot summer months when air rises and falls and will flow in and out of the windows. 

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Traditionally, the windows were held open by counterweights hidden in the frame. So, don’t be surprised if you see a chain and moving piece of metal or wood in an older home—but today, they’re usually held open by springs. 

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Slider Window 

Popularized by renowned French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and his love for horizontal windows, slider windows are similar to double-hung windows in their gliding action, but are horizontal in their movement instead of vertical. 

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Although sliders don't benefit from the stack effect and rising hot air like double-hung windows do, they do have the advantage of being easy to operate, and are often used where elongated horizontal vistas are desired without the interruption of intermediate walls.

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Casement Window 

Unlike a double-hung window, a casement window does not move vertically in its frame. Instead, it opens out like a set of doors, either freely or powered by a crank. 

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The windows can open either inwards or outwards and are generally regarded as harder to break into when locked. However, because many casement windows open outside, they're often more susceptible to damage, but a deep overhanging roof or other protective elements can remedy this issue.

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Awning Window

While most casement windows have vertical hinges, an awning window has its hinges oriented horizontally so that the window pops out from the side of the building like an awning. Frequently used in multiples in factories, awning windows ensure that light and air enter without precipitation, unlike several other window types. 

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However, because the frames are pushed out, the glass in the windows has a greater tendency to break or crack. A variation of the awning window is a hopper window, which has its hinges on the bottom and typically opens inside to prevent damage to the window or glazing. 

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Fixed Window 

Finally, the term "fixed window" covers a range of non-operable windows of varying sizes and shapes. Because they can’t open, fixed windows are used in situations where light or views alone are needed, like windows in a greenhouse, a clerestory window in a church, or even areas of a home with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. 

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Among the most popular is the picture window, which is typically an oversized window with as few structural obstructions as possible to create a "picture" of a specific view based on the location of the window. 

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