Last edited 06 Sep 2021



[edit] Introduction

Windows are openings fitted with glass to admit light and allow people to see out. They are often openable to allow ventilation.

Although the historic use of glass dates back to the Romans, glass windows only became common domestically in England in the early-17th century, gradually becoming more versatile and widespread as plate glass processes were perfected during the Industrial Age.

England, France, Ireland and Scotland introduced a window tax during the 18th and 19th centuries which was payable based on the number of windows in a house. It is still common to see buildings from that period with windows that were bricked-up to avoid the tax. The tax was repealed in 1851.

[edit] Elements of a window

Window parts.jpg

Windows are can include a number of different components:

[edit] Materials

It is important that windows be made of suitable and durable materials:

Most styles of windows are available in a number of different materials. Traditionally, windows were made of timber, either hardwood or softwood, and often protected against decay using paint or a natural wood finish. This finish requires regular maintenance.

Steel and aluminium alloy windows are capable of creating larger areas of glass with a thinner frame. However, historically, these could give rise to condensation on the metal components.

PVC windows are capable of providing excellent heat and sound insulation, as well as requiring little maintenance. However, they may have a shorter life than a well-maintained timber window.

The efficiency of windows is improved by double glazing, treble glazing, low-e coatings, the construction of the frame, the type of glass, the gas used to fill the sealed unit and so on. Generally, more efficient windows are more expensive, but the capital cost may be recovered during the life of the window life through lower energy bills. In addition, the conditions within the enclosed space are likely to be more comfortable.

The BFRC Window Energy Rating (WER) scheme is based on a traffic-light style A-G ratings system for energy efficiency similar to that used for fridges, washing machines, cookers and so on. An A rating indicates a good level of energy efficiency, whilst G is the lowest possible rating.

[edit] Opening type

[edit] Fixed light

A window that is fixed in place and cannot be opened. Often used where light or vision alone is required rather than ventilation, but fixed lights are commonly used in conjunction with other openable types of window.

[edit] Vertical slider/sash

Glass is fitted in ‘sashes’ (moveable panels) that slide vertically past each other:

  • Single-hung sash: One sash is moveable and the other is fixed.
  • Double-hung sash: Sashes are hung on spring balances or counterweights and made up of two sashes that overlap slightly and slide up and down vertically inside the frame.
  • Horizontal sliding sash: Two sashes that overlap slightly and slide horizontally on guide rails within the frame.

[edit] Casement

An opening window fixed to the frame by hinges along one of its edges:

  • Side hung casement: The sash side opens outwards.
  • Top hung casement: The sash top opens outwards. Also known as awning windows.
  • Bottom hung casement: The sash bottom opens inwards. Also known as hopper windows.

Casement windows preceded sash windows in the UK and traditionally opened inwards, although now they more commonly open outwards so as to free space inside and better direct air inwards for ventilation.

Casement windows require a metal bar called a ‘stay’ to hold them open. Different types are available such as the peg type (the stay has holes along it which allow it to fit over pegs), telescopic (tube shaped), and friction (a bent arm allows the window to open to 180-degrees).

[edit] Tilt and turn

Tilt and turn windows Include a mechanism that allows them to tilt inwards from one edge or to open inwards from one side. The stability of the mechanism allows tilt and turn windows to be larger than casement windows. They are also easy to clean from the inside.

[edit] Pivot

Pivot windows are hung on one hinge at centre points on each of two opposite sides. This allows the window to revolve when opened. The pivots can either be vertical, with the hinges mounted top and bottom, or horizontal, with the hinges mounted at each jamb. Pivot hinges incorporate a friction device that enables the window to hold itself open against its own weight. Pivot windows tend to be more expensive than casement windows but can allow for easy cleaning access.

[edit] Bi-fold

These are made up of a number of individual sashes, usually 2, 3 or 4, hinged together. They can be opened up in a concertina style and stacked neatly against each other at the side of the window frame.

[edit] Louvre

These windows use a series of parallel pieces of glazing that are hung on centre pivots positioned at intervals down the vertical jambs that allow them to open and close using a crank or lever. They allow for good ventilation with only small projections.

[edit] Other types

For more information, see Domestic windows.

[edit] Number of panes

Thermal performance and acoustic requirements will typically determine the need for:

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki:

[edit] External references


Great post, really interesting read!

I had my windows installed and maintained by a company called Hugo Carter. They were incredible, truly couldn't recommend them more!

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