Popular Window Styles

15 Most Popular Window Styles With Their Pros and Cons

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

There is always more to windows than improving the usability and efficiency of your home. Installing windows is the perfect way to increase your curb appeal. You use many different types of windows in the construction of your house. The main purpose of windows is to allow natural light into your room during the day and let in air to keep the room fresh.

The windows also help define your house's traditional or modern style. The architect can help customize nearly any window to suit a client's changing tastes and needs. In collaboration with Portella, a company that manufactures high-quality handcrafted custom steel doors and windows, we explore some of the most popular window styles by architects worldwide for residential homes and other types of establishments.

1. Awning Window

The awning window is mounted vertically, with the hinge at the top, and they swing outward from the bottom; that is, the window pushes outside. Many homeowners use this type of window, especially for allowing air to flow without the seasonal debris, for example, falling leaves or rainfall.

 Awning Window

In addition, some homeowners use this design to add an interesting decoration to their home's exterior. The construction of these awning windows will also allow more natural light into your house.

Pros:

  • Quite easy to open and close
  • The window can remain open during light rains as the glass act like an awning preventing water from getting in
  • Airtight and energy-efficient window type

Cons:

  • The window type doesn't encourage fresh air flow
  • Vulnerable to damage if exposed to elements

2. Casement Window

Image courtesy of Worthview

These casement windows were popular in the UK just before the invention of the sash window and are still popular in many European countries. In this type of window, the operable panel, either installed in pairs or singles, hangs on a hinge. These side hinges allow the window to swing outwards, opening and closing with the turn of a handle. This operable panel enables the window to be opened like a door.

This window construction is perfect for those spots that are hard to reach around your home, like over the kitchen sink or even the fireplace mantle. In addition, the design of these casement windows is aesthetically neutral, making them a good fit for most homes.

Pros:

  • Quite easy to open and close
  • Encourages fresh airflow
  • Relatively secure against intruders
  • Offers weathertight, energy-efficient seal

Cons:

  • Vulnerable to damage if exposed to elements
  • Strong winds can break off this window style

3. Sliding Window

Image courtesy of Indiamart

Sliding windows consist of two horizontally mounted sashes that open and close very easily by sliding horizontally on a track. These windows are favorable for large windows and are an excellent choice of windows to mount over a counter or sink or in any circumstance with obstacles to access.

Sliding windows work perfectly in modern or contemporary homes. In addition, many of these sliding designs have removable sashes that make them easy to clean.

Pros:

  • Quite affordable windows to install
  • Relatively durable window type
  • Easy to open and close
  • Ideal for egress windows

Cons:

  • It comes in limited sizes and shapes
  • The window style might stick over time

4. Bay Window

Image courtesy of Freshome

Bay windows consist of a large window surrounded by casement. The bay design particularly pairs well with traditional and rustic designs. However, installing these bay windows can require additional construction and structural upgrades. Talk to a professional before adding bay windows to your home.

Today bay windows are commonly used in mansions and modest homes. Bay windows are favorable because they allow maximum light to enter a room as the sun moves across the sky over a day.

Pros:

  • The window style encourages a lot of natural light
  • Perfect window style for those who love a constant view of the outdoors
  • The window style provides shelf space for displaying decorative items or growing plants
  • Architecturally appealing windows

Cons:

  • A bit expensive compared to several window styles
  • Installation requires expertise

5. Double Hung Windows

Image courtesy of Marvin

Double Hung windows are very common. This double-hung window style has two main sashes that slide vertically up and down in the frame. These sashes can easily open wide from the top or the bottom, although they remain inside the frame so that they don't protrude out to the house's exterior or interior.

The movable upper and lower portions of double-hung windows allow for easy operation and improved ventilation. In addition, the sashes lean inward, which makes their cleaning and replacement easier. The difference between double and single-hung windows is that in the single-hung window, only the bottom part of the window operates while the top part remains fixed.

Pros:

  • Encourages fresh airflow
  • Relatively easy to open and close
  • They are readily available since many manufacturers make them
  • Tracks are vertical, so don't get filled up with dirt. 

Cons:

  • They require regular maintenance to keep operating smoothly.
  • The seal is not weathertight

6. Transom Window

Image courtesy of Portella

Transom windows are usually located above or below the primary windows. Many homeowners tend to use transoms to enlarge the existing smaller windows. These windows come in vented and fixed models. This window can either be operable or not. They are usually mounted above a door or window to let in more light.

Pros:

  • The window type has a very elegant look
  • Quite affordable windows
  • Energy-efficient as they promote airflow throughout your room
  • Increases natural lighting in a room

Cons:

  • They are a bit challenging to clean
  • They require regular maintenance

7. Single Hung

Image courtesy of Pellabranch

Single-hung windows are raised from the bottom to allow air into your home. Single-hung sashes are stationary, which can make cleaning more difficult. However, the single-hung aesthetic will give any home a classic look.

The sash window consists of two panels arranged vertically. Although this type of window is attributed to the English inventor Robert Hooke, its use caught on quickly due to the design's simplicity. In the single-hung sash, the bottom panel moves up to allow airflow while the top panel stays fixed.

Pros:

  • Encourages fresh airflow
  • Relatively easy to open and close
  • The window style has an affordable price tag
  • They are readily available since many manufacturers make them

Cons:

  • Cleaning them is a bit difficult
  • The seal is not weathertight

8. Bow Window

Image courtesy of Deavita

Bow windows are four or more windows joined together in an arc or semi-circle. They can be a combination of windows, often with a fixed window in the middle bound by either double-hung windows or casements. They depend on the curved architecture and use more glass panels than bay windows. As a result, they provide more interior space as they protrude from the house's exterior.

Like bay windows, installing bow windows will require more construction than other designs, so it's best to talk to a professional before installation. Bow windows are popular in breakfast nooks and additional seating areas.

Pros:

  • They provide you with more interior space
  • The windows promote a lot of natural light
  • Architecturally appealing windows
  • Ideal for those who love a constant view of the outdoors

Cons:

  • You will need to hire a professional to install the windows
  • Cleaning them is a bit difficult compared to several window styles

9. Fixed/Stationary Window

Image courtesy of Portella

Fixed windows cannot be opened, but they can be easily customized in nearly any shape you desire according to your needs and wants. They can be located on exterior walls to admit natural light or into interior walls. They are often found in modern or contemporary houses and are mostly in conjunction with operating windows. This type of window comes in all shapes and sizes and, of course, custom options.

Pros:

  • The windows offer a modern home-style feeling
  • They offer better energy efficiency
  • Quite affordable windows to install

Cons:

  • The window style doesn't encourage fresh air flow
  • They create too much warm air in warm, sunny climates

10. Custom And Special Shapes Windows

Image courtesy of Marvin

Custom designs are always ideal for unusual architectural features or home designs. For example, most window manufacturers will help you develop the perfect design and construction of windows for your home. Unfortunately, these windows are considerably more expensive than the other options.

Specially shaped windows will add visual interest to your home, but they are not likely to open. In addition, installing these oddly shaped windows can be more expensive than installing the other designs, and it might also take a very long completion timeline.

Pros:

  • Ideal for unusual architectural features or home designs
  • The window style adds visual interest to your home
  • Perfect for those who love a constant view of the outdoors

Cons:

  • They are considerably more expensive than the other options
  • Installation is not easy

11. Picture Windows

Picture window types are fixed and typically installed in the center of the room's wall to improve aesthetics and natural lighting. These huge flat square or rectangular windows are common among homeowners who want to optimize their view of the outdoors. Besides, they are perfect for use in hard-to-reach spaces where opening the window would be challenging.

Image courtesy of modernize

Picture windows are versatile; you can install them alone or in combination with other types of windows to create a spectacular focal point and improve ventilation. Besides, you can pair picture windows of various shapes and sizes to create a large viewing area.

Furthermore, they are stationary and do not open, enhancing their overall energy efficiency.

Pros:

  • They offer better energy efficiency
  • Ideal for those who love a constant view of the outdoors
  • They improve aesthetics and natural lighting
  • Cost-effective than mechanical windows

Cons:

  • They can be hard to clean, especially on the outside
  • Offers less airflow or ventilation

12. Skylight Windows

Skylight or roof windows are installed in the ceiling rather than the wall, providing the full benefits of an open sky without risking rain or snow falling into the house. They can either be fixed, meaning they don't open, or they can have a crank mechanism or a remote control to operate the window for ventilation.

Attic modern bedroom with white bed and skylight and beige walls and carpet.

Image courtesy of Community Roofing & Restoration

Therefore, homeowners can install electric skylight windows that open and close at the press of a button instead of in manual operation. Another good thing about these popular window styles is that they can be used as an emergency exit route. Besides, they're an excellent way to provide natural light to small spaces without taking up wall space.

Additionally, skylight window types are often used in high front halls or foyers to enhance the lighting at a home's entrance.

Pros:

  • The windows promote a lot of natural light
  • They can be used as an emergency exit route
  • The windows can help expel hot air in summer
  • Direct exposure to the sun means these roof windows can help heat spaces during winter

Cons:

  • The roof windows have a shorter lifespan than other window styles
  • Installation requires expertise

13. Glass Block Windows

Though glass block window types were trendy in the 1980s, modern homes don't look hideous with them. These windows are made of numerous cubic blocks. The blocks are partially translucent and have a patterned design that adds a decorative aspect. Furthermore, they are ideally suited for private areas such as the shower or bathroom. But you can install them anywhere.

Image courtesy of angi

The glass blocks usually allow natural light to enter the space. Besides, the patterned design adds a decorative accent to any space. However, glass block windows cannot be opened for ventilation.

Pros:

  • The window style offers natural light and privacy
  • They add a decorative accent to any space
  • Weathertight window style
  • Relatively durable windows

Cons:

  • A bit expensive to install

14. Garden Windows

Garden windows are mini bay windows designed specifically for plants. They extend outward from your home, adding space and visual appeal. They also provide sun exposure from three sides, allowing more natural light to enter your home and enhance the interior.

Image courtesy of modernize

These windows are perfect for a year-round greenhouse for growing plants and herbs. They are also an excellent place to display your favorite decorative pieces.

Moreover, they are extremely versatile, making them suitable for home design. You can install them over the sink in your kitchen or the breakfast nook to offer an eye-catching accent. The windows make a room feel bigger.

Pros:

  • They are perfect for use as a year-round greenhouse for growing plants and herbs
  • Ideal for any home design
  • They make a room feel bigger
  • Increases natural lighting in a room

Cons:

  • A bit expensive to install

15. Hopper Windows

Hopper windows are ideal for rooms with limited wall space to accommodate a new window. They normally open from the top and crank open to tip down, swinging inwards at 45-90 degrees. Since they use compact spaces, they are used in basements, attics, or bathrooms.

Image courtesy of modernize

Basement hopper windows, unlike egress windows, are generally used for ventilation because they are smaller and cannot be used as an emergency exit. Furthermore, these windows provide good insulation since they seal against the frame.

Pros:

  • Ideal for rooms with limited wall space
  • The windows provide good insulation
  • Perfect for basements, attics, or bathrooms
  • Relatively easy to open and close

Cons:

  • Not ideal during rainy or winter season

How to Pick the Best Window Style for Your Home

1. Identify the Intended Purpose of the Window

The primary function of windows is to allow natural light and air while also connecting with the outdoors. Besides, windows serve as a doorway, such as a sliding glass door to access the porch. They can be operable to access spaces or fixed as an ornamental element for aesthetic purposes.

Image courtesy of Edward Enterprises

Conversely, the right window style will depend on the available space and the light or view priorities in that area. Therefore, before investing in different window types, we recommend considering which rooms the window will serve and if a view is important or natural light is essential.

2. Go for Window Styles that Reflect your House’s Architectural Style

Most homes, if not all, have an architectural design that makes them stand out from the rest. So when choosing the right window style for your home, ensure it complements its architectural design. This is regardless of your house, whether it's a traditional or a modern one.

3. Go for a Window Style that Complements the Interior

Although the exterior appearance of your windows is crucial, it's also important to keep in mind how the window will appear in interiors. For instance, we recommend going for a window style that allows light in the bathroom but doesn't give direct views from the outside.

4. Make the windows the focal point of your interior.

Windows usually allow you to stare out into the lovely view formed by natural elements. Their design, shape, color, and window details can serve as the main focus of attention on the exteriors. We recommend going for windows with unique mullions and frame elements to add details to your interior.

5. Go for the Best Accent Colors for the Window Frames

We recommend choosing an accent color that you can use on your home and on the window frames to enhance the exterior aesthetics. However, these two can still have different colors that complement the entire composition and improve the exterior's appearance.

6. Look for Colorful window frames & mullions.

Image courtesy of Brennan Enterprises

Choosing window frames and mullions will depend on the architectural style of your home. Whether you choose wooden or metallic frames, a color tint can be applied to improve the appearance of the house's exterior. And if you decide to give your exterior home a makeover and paint your frames and mullions, consult a paint professional for the best exterior paints to use for your application.

7. Consider the amount of ventilation needed.

As mentioned earlier, ventilation is one of the primary roles of windows. And most popular window styles offer a range of operable or fixed windows. However, both sets can be used in the design depending on the demands of different spaces. Operable windows ensure enough airflow in the space, while fixed windows cannot be opened.

8. Pay attention to the orientation of the sun.

When choosing a window style, paying attention to the sun's orientation based on your location is important. A careful assessment of the orientation can help in choosing energy-efficient windows. Consequently, planning the window type and placement can ensure your home is warm or cool depending on the season and save power expenses.

9. Windows are an excellent remodeling project.

If you are considering a makeover, window replacement is one of the things you need to consider. The new window types offer better energy efficiency and lower energy and money expenses with updated shapes and enhanced features.

10. Choose Different Operable Window Styles for your unique application.

Choose the one that meets the requirements with the many operations of each window type. Base your decision on weighing the benefits and drawbacks of various operable windows.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Window Styles

1. What’s a mullion window?

A mullion is a vertical piece of wood separating the glass panes, not the vertical and horizontal stile parts. Nowadays, mullions are the vertical bars that run between the panes of glass in a window. Their function, like that of muntins, is decorative.

2. Should all windows in a house match?

Though every window does not have to have the same materials or style, we recommend choosing similar or complimentary options for all window types to create a cohesive look. Grilles are an excellent approach to establishing a consistent look across the most popular window styles.

3. What should the height of a window be from the floor?

If you are looking for a general rule of thumb, the bottom of the window should start roughly 2 to 3 feet from the floor, and the top should end no less than 16 to 18 inches from the ceiling.

4. Can a house actually have black and white windows?

The most common colors to consider are black and white. They are both timeless hues that will still look great now and in the future. They will not go out of style or out of date, making your home look antiquated. When deciding between the two, keep in mind that each has advantages and disadvantages.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.