Learn the Differences Between Different Types of Windows

Choose window styles with confidence

Beyond choosing the material of your window frames, you also have to take the various window styles into careful consideration. Windows have a profound effect on the appearance from your home, and attractive windows greatly enhance its curb appeal and can significantly impact its resale value. There are also many different window configurations you should know about it you're considering a major overhaul that will dramatically alter your home's exterior.

The most common types of windows include casement windows, double-hung windows, grilled or divided windows, jalousie windows, storm windows, awning windows and radius windows. Picture windows and bay windows are the two most common window styles, though there are many others as well.

This complete guide to the different types of windows will provide you with comprehensive information for making an informed choice.

Window Types

Here are some terms you're certain to encounter as you shop for windows:

  • Casement windows. The definitive feature of a casement window is that it has hinges running down one side, and opens outward. These windows can even have multiple opening panes mounted on a single frame. You can also get casement windows with hinges mounted along the top or bottom of the frame.
  • Double-hung windows. These windows are divided horizontally into two individual parts known as "sashes." In most cases, only one of the sashes (usually the bottom sash) is designed to move, though some designs allow the top sash or both sashes to be mobile. These windows are very easy to clean.
  • Grilled or divided windows. One way to create a unique look is to install windows with grid-like grilles. Also known as divided windows, these windows are commonly used in tandem with traditional architecture styles, like Edwardian or English cottage. The grilles can be diagonally oriented, or horizontally/vertically oriented.
  • Jalousie windows. If you have a sunroom or a covered porch, a jalousie window might be the ideal choice. These windows are divided into multiple slats, each of which can be left open or closed to give you pinpoint control over how much fresh air and light you're allowing into the room.
  • Storm windows. A storm window is an additional pane of glass, which is placed on the inside or the outside of the main pane of glass in a window frame to provide added protection against the elements. The extra layer of glass also provides an additional thermal barrier, boosting your home's overall energy efficiency.
  • Awning windows. These windows have hinges running along the top, but they differ from casement windows in that they are divided into four panes by two intersecting lines, one of which bisects the frame vertically and the other which bisects the frame horizontally. This geometric design makes them one of the most versatile window styles on the market.
  • Radius windows. A radius window has a unique rectangular design topped with a semicircle. They are largely decorative and are commonly seen on homes with contemporary architecture.

Window Styles

In broad terms, window styles can be broken down into two main categories: picture windows and bay windows. Picture windows are rectangular in shape and flat (as opposed to protruding) in orientation. While the traditional description of a picture window is "a window that does not open," meaning that its primary function is to allow viewers a "picture" of the outdoors, the term is now widely used to refer to any rectangular, non-protruding window, whether it opens or not.

Bay windows, on the other hand, have protruding segments which jut out from the house to create an air of majesty and elegance. They are inherently more expensive to install, as you will need to purchase specially sized and shaped panes of glass for the protrusions. However, bay windows add prestige to your home and are well worth considering if you're making wholesale renovations with the intent of raising your home's resale value.

Beyond these two basic styles, there is a near-endless number of variations, from ovular or circular windows to concave or convex windows which flow naturally along dramatic curves built into your home's architecture. You can also custom-design windows of your own, in case you're not able to find anything on the market that exactly matches the vision you have for your home.