[Infographic] Your Starter Guide to Windows

Doors & Windows
An illustration depicts various window styles and glass types.

Windows aren’t always at the top of home or building owners’ lists when considering renovations, but these ubiquitous fixtures do a lot more than most of us give them credit for. In addition to offering an aesthetic upgrade, new windows can dramatically reduce a home or building’s energy bills by preventing the loss of cool air in the summer and hot air in the winter.

To help spread appreciation for these often unsung works of engineering, we’ve put together an infographic detailing the basics of all things windows. From window parts and anatomy to the staggering variety of window styles, we hope this starter guide will help illustrate just how important windows can be to a home or building’s value. If you’d prefer to read the information in text form, scroll down to below the infographic for an article covering the same topics.

An infographic illustrating basic window parts, styles, and glass types. Scroll below to read the information in text form.

Basic Anatomy

With a wide variety of structural and mechanical parts, windows are much more complex than many of us realize. Before discussing the types and styles of windows available, it’s helpful to go over a few basic terms for the different parts of a window unit.

  • Frame—The main horizontal and vertical beams that form a window’s structural foundation
  • Head—The top horizontal part of a window’s frame
  • Jambs—The vertical parts on the sides of a window’s frame
  • Sash—A framed glass piece that can move within the window’s main frame
  • Glazing—The glass that is encased within a window frame
  • Rail—The top and bottom horizontal parts of a sash’s frame

Types of Windows

If you’ve never looked into window remodeling or installation before, you may be surprised by the staggering variety of window styles out there. Windows can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes with nearly endless customization options, but we’ll just be covering a few of the most common styles here.

  • Single Hung—One sash that moves vertically
  • Double Hung—Two sashes that move vertically past each other
  • Casement—Hinged sashes that open inward or outward
  • Sliding—Large sash that slides horizontally
  • Awning—Hinged sash that opens outward vertically
  • Picture—A single uninterrupted framed glass piece
  • Arched—A fixed panel with a decorative shape
  • Bay—Multiple panels that extrude from the building’s wall

Single Hung / Double Hung Anatomy

While all windows share a common set of basic parts as we previously went over, some window styles feature unique parts with specialized functions. Below is a list of a few of the specialized parts common in single hung and double hung windows.

  • Check Rail—The point where the top rail of the lower sash and bottom rail of the upper sash come in contact in a double-hung window
  • Lift—A handle that makes it easier to raise the sash in a single hung window, or raise the lower sash in a double-hung
  • Sash Lock—A latch that engages with the sash lock strike when the window is closed to lock the sashes in place and reduce rattling
  • Balance—A mechanical device used to counter-balance the weight of a sash, making it easier to lift open

Casement Anatomy

Casement windows have their own array of specialized parts as well. Here are a few common ones found in most casement windows.

  • Hinged Panel—A framed glass panel that connects to a jamb via hinges, allowing the panel to open inwards
  • Operator—A crank-like mechanism for opening the hinged panels on some casement and awning windows
  • Casing—Often decorative horizontal and vertical molding that covers the space between the window frame and the surrounding wall
  • Lock Handle—A mechanism that allows for hinged panels to be secured in place when closed

Types of Window Glass

All this complexity, and we haven’t even begun to cover window glass. Windows can feature a wide variety of glass types, from the basic float glass most people are familiar with to newer, more high tech glasses that are designed to save energy. Here we’ll list a few of the most common types and compare their initial installation cost to the energy savings they can bring over time.

  • Float—The most common type of window glass. Low initial cost and low energy savings in the long term
  • Obscured—Lets in light while maintaining privacy. Low to medium initial cost and low to medium energ savings
  • Insulated—Argon or similar gas trapped between two glass layers. High initial cost offset high energy savings in the long term
  • Low-E—Lets in visible light while blocking infra-red light. High initial cost offset by high energy savings

We hope this information will help illustrate just how interesting windows can be, as well as how important they are to a home or building’s aesthetics and energy efficiency. And if you’re ever in need of a new window installation, give us a call at Divided Sky! Our contractors are experts on all things windows, from installation to energy ratings and more.

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