There are several different types of windows. Traditionally, most windows were side-hinged windows, referred to as casements, and sliding sash windows. New opening mechanisms such as friction and pivot hinges are increasingly popular. Window materials, shapes, and sizes vary considerably, as does terminology, so you should read your manufacturer’s literature carefully. Replacement windows for older homes often need to be custom-built to your requirements.
Most styles of windows are available in a number of different materials. Each material has advantages and disadvantages in terms of maintenance and appearance.
Windows were traditionally made of wood, and it is still popular because it is so versatile. Softwood windows need to be protected by paint or a natural wood finish, and regularly maintained.
Double-glazed, vinyl windows offer excellent heat and sound insulation. Old windows are often replaced throughout a house by new vinyl windows. In addition to white, other finishes are available, such as wood-grain. Vinyl requires little maintenance.
Where maximum light is required, aluminum windows can be an excellent option-the strength of aluminum means a thin frame can support a large expanse of glass. Double-glazing may be required by building regulations to reduce heat loss. Old aluminum windows were prone to rust, but modern versions are coated during manufacturing and are durable and low-maintenance.
Windows can be made from a combination of materials. Aluminum windows, for example, often have a wooden core, and steel casements can be housed in wooden frames to reduce heat loss. Frames with decorative real wood on the inside, and maintenance-free fiberglass or vinyl exteriors are also available. Traditional lead lights are made up of small pieces of glass held between strips of lead within a wood frame. Other types of windows are available with lead-light-effect double-glazing.