Window shopping

Tom Swallow of Quickslide Windows & Doors discusses some of the key performance and aesthetic considerations when selecting windows.

Windows are crucial to the design of a home. Not only do they take the brunt of the elements such as wind, rain, snow and ice, but they also boost the look, feel, climate and even the overall price of a home.

Choosing the right windows for a house can be difficult and there are quite a few things to take into consideration, from natural light and insulation, to the view and even the function of a room itself.

Natural light

Windows give you a chance to flood a room with natural light. When designing a house, you should carefully consider how the placement of the windows will affect the natural light that comes into the home. Here in the northern hemisphere, south facing homes tend to receive more sunlight overall throughout the day.

Homes built with the longest wall of the house facing south have great potential if homeowners are looking for maximum sunlight, as quite simply, you can fit more windows in! However, while windows let in a lot of light, they also let in a lot of heat. This is great during the winter, but not so desirable in the summer. For south facing windows, to maintain a happy medium, it is advisable to aim for window distribution of 5 per cent to 12 per cent of the floor area of the house. This will maximise available light, while ensuring the home is not overheated.

Boosting natural light can have many benefits for the new homeowners, helping them to be more productive, happier, healthier and calmer. Natural light has been known to reduce eye strain and increase vitamin D intake, the latter helping to regulate the immune system and body weight. And the benefits don’t stop there, a brighter space is of course also more aesthetically pleasing. Natural light is often used by architects to make spaces appear larger, for example. It can illuminate interior structures and increase the perceived beauty of a space.

Additional windows aren’t the only way to boost natural light, though; it might be worth considering bi-fold doors. Not only are they great at opening a kitchen space and creating a seamless connection into the garden, a high quality set of aluminium bi- fold doors can add 5-10 per cent to the value of a property.

Type of window

There are many types of windows on the market, and it is important to consider which style best fits the aesthetics of the house, whether modern or traditional.

Casement windows are a popular choice and very versatile, being compatible with most types of property. Hinged on one side with multi-locking points, casement windows work well for a modern home.

Sliding sash windows however are a more traditional offering, one that can preserve the appearance of an old-style home – the design has in fact been around for several hundred years.

Other frames such as bay, ‘tilt & turn’ and heritage windows are also available on the market if neither sash or casement are suitable.

Once the frame has been decided on, you should consider both the material and colour that will best match the overall aesthetic that you want to achieve. PVCu is often viewed as a low maintenance, weather resistant option, while an aluminium frame is seen as more elegant and contemporary.

Now you’re set on the frame, material and colour, the glass itself needs to be suitable for purpose. Safety laminated glass is a stronger, reinforced glass that avoids chips and cracks, and is generally safer than regular glass windows – perhaps ideal for windows and doors on the bottom floor of a house to avoid chips and cracks. Tinted or frosted glass is perfect for privacy, and is perhaps best suited to bathrooms and ensuites. Insulated glass is great for energy saving, and is especially good for eco-homes.

Function of room

Something that is often overlooked when choosing window placement on a new home is how these windows can help improve the function of a room. For example, in the kitchen a homeowner will need space, light and good ventilation. Remember that kitchen windows are open more often, so it’s advisable to put them in a place that makes them both easily accessible and easy to open and close.

Bedroom windows need more privacy, and unless the bedroom isn’t overlooked by anybody, it is a good idea to place smaller windows slightly higher to avoid two-way viewing. When placing bedroom windows, you should also consider the view. Is it possible to place them in a spot where the occupants can enjoy the view from the bed? If you want to add larger windows to a bedroom you should consider mirrored glass or tinted glass to increase privacy if overlooked by neighbours or people from the street.

Bathroom windows should be much more private than the rest of the house. Ensure that they are placed to allow in enough natural light, but keep the view from outside away from showers, baths and toilets.

Rooms like the dining room, living room and any office space there may be can accommodate larger windows as there’s not too much of an issue with privacy. You may wish to compromise on a happy medium here, taking into consideration both natural light and the occupants’ potential wish for keeping passers-by from seeing too far into their home.

Consider the exterior

Sometimes the position that feels right for the interior doesn’t always look the best from the outside. This doesn’t matter so much on exterior walls that aren’t often looked at, but the front of the house should be carefully considered.

Remember, you don’t have to use windows just for functionality – they can be used for design elements too. Think about incorporating round windows or bay windows to add another element of style to a home.

Tom Swallow is sales and marketing director at Quickslide Windows & Doors