Window styles: Making the right choice
Windows aren't just for looking out of – the style of window you choose has a huge impact on the appearance and feel of your home. And there are lots of things to think about: size, materials, colours, insulation, even how the window will open and close.
Personal preference is an important part of choosing a window style, but you also need to think about how well it will fit with the architecture of your home. Windows tend to have gotten bigger over the centuries, as glass became cheaper and we developed ways of making larger panes, so as a very general rule, the more modern the house, the bigger and cleaner the glazing can be. Big windows may look odd in an old cottage not designed to have them.
The golden ratio, as developed in classical architecture, is still used today as a rule of thumb for window proportions. The ratio holds that something should be 1.6 times as tall as it is wide.
Sash windows are made of two panes of glass which open and close by sliding one pane over the other. Single-hung windows have one sliding pane; on a double-hung window you can slide both panes, so if you have young children or pets you can open the window at the top to avoid them climbing out.
Casement windows open on hinges, most commonly sideways but also sometimes upwards.
Tilt and turn windows have hinges at the side and the bottom, so can be opened either like a casement window, or by tilting them inwards at the top.
Windows can be made from wood, uPVC, aluminium or a combination of these.
Wood: Lots of people like wood because it looks lovely. It is also strong and a good insulator. The downside is that it involves considerable maintenance: it has to be painted and treated to stop it getting wet, deforming or decomposing.
uPVC: uPVC requires virtually no maintenance, and is a good insulator and good value. You generally get what you pay for: cheap uPVC windows may be of dubious quality.
Aluminium: Aluminium is very strong and lightweight, so can be used to produce very slim frames. It is very low maintenance and well suited to contemporary homes, but it is expensive.
You can also get composite windows made from a wooden core with an aluminium or uPVC cladding on the part that sits outside, so you have the natural look of wood inside your home while protecting it from the weather on the outside.
Types of glass
Double glazing uses two panes of glass with a layer of air trapped between them to provide extra insulation. Some windows have a noble gas like argon in the gap, which works even better. Triple glazing uses three panes of glass, but isn't necessarily that much more effective at keeping heat in.
South east London architects Bluelime Home Design have been working on homes across London and Kent for 13 years and can offer advice on windows for properties of all periods, sizes and styles. We have offices in Dartford, Bromley, Erith, Bexley and Croydon, but can work much further afield. Call 01322 517632 for a free architect consultation or to find out more.