Shopping For New Windows? Vocabulary You Should Know To Avoid Fenestration Frustration

Are you thinking about upgrading your house with brand new windows? If you are like most people, you probably feel like you are visiting a foreign country when you step inside of the window showroom. As salespeople throw around unfamiliar jargon, it might be easy to feel intimidated by your decision. However, by brushing up on your window terminology, you can streamline your shopping trip. Here are some vocabulary words you should know to avoid fenestration frustration:

1: Window Types

Which type of windows from a site like do you need? Although you might have a rough idea of the general shape you are after, the fact of the matter is that there are several different kinds of windows—each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are the descriptions of a few basic window types, so you know what to ask for:

  • Double-Hung: Are you looking for standard rectangular windows where the bottom slides up and down? If so, ask for double-hung windows. The double-hung variety is perfect for most rooms of your house, including areas near decks and walkways.
  • Casement: Instead of having separate sashes that slide up and down, casement windows are fixed on a single hinge and open like a door. Some casement windows even swing indoors, so that you can clean them easily. 
  • Picture: Unlike other types of windows, which are meant to open and close to improve ventilation, picture windows are fixed. However, because these windows don't contain opening mechanisms and extra panes, they offer a completely unobstructed view of the outside world.
  • Gliding: Gliding windows are like double-hung windows, except they open side-to-side instead of up and down.
  • Bay: To give your home a nostalgic twist or to add a little extra floor space, some people choose bay windows. These special windows project out of your home, so that you can create interesting reading areas or exterior architectural details.

To make your window installation a little easier, analyze which types of windows your home already contains and look for a similar style. However, if you work with a professional window contractor, you can update your home however you like.    

2: Glass Types

After you have an idea of which type of window you are looking for, you will be asked which type of glass you want for the panes. Unfortunately, unless you work in construction, it can be hard to know what you need. Here are some types of glass, and which rooms they work well for:

  • Float Glass: If you are looking for run-of-the-mill, flat, clear glass, you should ask for float glass. This type of glass is created by mixing sand, calcium, and other additives together and then melting it at around 1500°F. Afterwards, the mixture is poured into a molten tin bath, where it floats on the surface before it cools. Float glass is perfect for upper windows, or parts of the house where they wouldn't be subjected to intense heat or impact.
  • Low-E: When light pours into your home, it can heat up your space fast. Unfortunately, if you have windows on the west side of your house, the afternoon sun can spell trouble for your energy bill. However, Low-E glass is glazed so that it reflects as much as 96% of long-wave, heat generating sunshine.
  • Safety Glass: If you have windows that are situated close to the floor or near bathrooms, you will want to look for safety glass. Some types of safety glass are finished with special films, so that glass pieces won't fall if the pane is ever broken. Tempered glass is another type of safety glass, created to withstand about four times more force than traditional panes.

In addition to making your shopping experience a little easier, understanding window terminology might help you to decide what you want before you get to the store.