9 types of windows every homeowner should know

Wed Aug 24 2022

An open window with a white frame in front of a blue sky

Replacing your windows goes a long way toward giving your home a fresh, new look. New windows can usually improve your home’s energy efficiency, increase safety for people with children and pets, and possibly even help with homeowners insurance (check with your insurer).

But the different types of windows have advantages and disadvantages to consider. We took a look at several window types and styles to help you figure out what makes sense for your home.

1. Single-hung windows

Single white window on teal house with window box full of flowers

If you’ve ever seen a child’s drawing of a home, then chances are you have an idea of what single-hung windows are. They’re the type of window that opens by raising the bottom panel, and they’re the most common windows on the market.

Single-hung windows have fewer features than double-hung windows, so they cost less. They’re also easier to replace because they’re so common. However, you can only lift the bottom sash, and that limits the amount of ventilation they provide. The outside of single-hung windows can be difficult to clean, and slipping can become a problem over time.

Cost: $250 to $600 per window

Pros Cons
Inexpensive Difficult to clean exterior
Easy to replace Slipping can be a problem
Limited ventilation

2. Double-hung windows

Double-hung windows look a lot like their single-hung friends, but these windows open from both the top and bottom sashes. This makes them great for ventilation. Most also tilt, which makes cleaning them very easy.

That extra feature, however, ends up increasing the price. And, slipping can still be a problem if these windows are not properly maintained. That said, double-hung windows are a great space saver because they don’t protrude from the wall.

Cost: $300 - $700

Pros Cons
Easy to clean Difficult to clean exterior
Great for ventilation Slipping can be a problem
Good for saving space More expensive than a single-hung

3. Casement or crank windows

Casement windows in a modern loft apartment

Casement windows sit on a hinge so you open them by turning a crank that swings the window out. This is easy to do and creates a good deal of airflow when opened. However, what’s easy for you to open may also be easy for a burglar. Moreover, the mechanical parts are subject to more wear and tear than some other types of windows.

Cost: $300 to $750 per window

Pros Cons
Great for ventilation Easy to break into
Easy to open and close Prone to wear and tear
Weathertight seal Expensive

4. Picture windows

Exterior of modern home with picture window

Picture windows frame a view that you want to capture from inside your home. They let in a lot of light and can make the interior feel connected to the outside, all of which can make a great impression. However, picture windows are sealed in place, so they don’t help with ventilation, and they may also allow heat to escape even with their weathertight seals.

Cost estimate: $400 to $800 per window

Pros Cons
Unobstructed views No ventilation
Increased natural light Not energy efficient
Weathertight seal Difficult to clean

5. Sliding windows

White wall with an open sliding window

Also called gliding windows or sliders, sliding windows are a lot like a double-hung window laid on its side. This makes sliding windows ideal for long, horizontal spaces. Even better, a tilting-slicing window can also be easier to clean than other types of windows. They don’t require a crank so they’re more durable than casement windows, and they generally have better seals than double-hung windows. However, sliding windows are seldom available in wood, and people often complain about sticky sliders.

Cost estimate: $400 to $900 per window

Pros Cons
Inexpensive Low maintenance
Some are easy to clean Prone to sticking
Energy efficient Limited materials

6. Awning windows

Exterior of a gray house with a close-up of an open, white awning window

An awning window is similar to a casement window except its hinges are at the top of the frame. When you turn the crank, the window frame swings open from the bottom. This makes awning windows good for security, but that narrow opening makes exiting in an emergency difficult. Additionally, cleaning the exterior isn’t easy, and the mechanical components can break.

Cost estimate: $350 to $900 to install.

Pros Cons
Inexpensive Prone to wear and tear
Good for security Difficult to clean
Easy to open Can be damaged if left open

7. Bay windows

A bay window in a brick house

Bay windows usually consist of a series of flat windows that project from the side of your home and allow plenty of natural light to enter from multiple angles. The windows are grouped in a way that creates a shelf inside your home while also improving curb appeal.

The amount of light they let in means bay windows probably aren’t the right choice for bedrooms, plus it can be hard to find window treatments for them. Moreover, bay windows don’t open and close, though some homeowners will use casement or double-hung windows on the side panels to improve airflow. Even without this addition, bay windows require professional installation, and that increases the cost.

Cost estimate: $1,200 to $3,500

Pros Cons
Allow lots of natural light in Expensive
Increases interior square footage Difficult to install
Boosts curb appeal Difficult to find window treatments

8. Skylights

A white framed skylight looking out towards blue skies and a flowering tree

Skylights are windows that are installed into the roof to allow a maximum amount of natural light into a room. They’re particularly useful for lighting up a dark, interior room. You can choose skylights that are fixed or one that’s vented that you can open to allow in fresh air. Placed in the right position, skylights can actually help keep your house warm.

Skylights, however, are not cheap. They should be professionally installed, and you have to take good care of them. Leaky skylights can cause damage to your roof.

Cost estimate: $900 to $2,150 per skylight.

Pros Cons
Allows lots of natural light Expensive
Provides indirect solar heat May result in leaks and roof damage
Can help with ventilation Difficult to clean inside and out

9. Transom windows

Traditional transom window with black ironwork

Transom windows that sit on top of interior and exterior doors and windows are mainly decorative elements, but they also let in additional natural light. Today, most transom windows don’t open and close, which means they can make rooms stuffy from radiant heat. The ones that do open allow air to flow through the home without opening all the doors and windows.

Depending on the size and type, transom windows can be difficult to maintain and clean. Prices can also vary.

Cost estimate: $200 to $600 per installed window.

Pros Cons
Increases sunlight Most limit airflow
Inexpensive May increase heat
Stylish Difficult to clean

One final note: Depending on where you live (We’re looking at you, South Florida!) you may need impact-resistant windows and hurricane shutters. Both can help you protect your home.


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