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Window Styles: Which is Right for Your Home?

Window Styles - What Window Style to Choose to Suit Your Build
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Window styles are one aspect of house design that really can make or break a project. Whether you are renovating, extending or building from scratch, getting the style right can give your property instant kerb appeal.

These days, house façades are often more window than wall so it is highly important to take into account the thermal performance and energy efficiency of you chosen window style, not just how much natural light it will bring to the table.

This guide sets out everything you need to know when choosing the right windows for your home.

(MORE: Get a Tailored Quote for Your Windows)

What to Consider When Choosing a Window Style

When you are choosing your window styles you should consider the following:

  • Design: Will your windows be classic and traditional, or sleek and contemporary?
  • Style: Find out about the different types of casements and the what the styles bring to the table
  • Material: Our material guide that compares cost, durability and style
  • Glazing: Thermal performance and energy efficiency are now high of the priority list for many self builders and renovators
  • Costs: Take a look at our advice on comparing between quotes
  • Ordering: Think about how to order and how the lead-in times will affect your project
The golden ratio

As developed in classical architecture – is still used today as a general rule of thumb. The ratio proportions are 1:1.618 meaning a vertical sash window at 800mm wide should be 1,300mm tall

The positioning of windows will be influenced by room layouts and the shape of the house itself but the shape and type of the windows themselves should be taken into serious consideration when deciding on the exterior and interior finishes.

For instance, a contemporary, single-storey house is improved by similarly narrow, vertical windows but old cottages look odd with large glazed openings forced into thick stone walls.

How Much Do Different Window Styles Cost?

Window Styles - What Window Style to Choose to Suit Your Build

Large sliding windows can have a huge design impact (Image credit: Getty Images)

Your window costs will vary depending on the size of your project but there are a few clever ways to get some really good estimates when shopping around.

Before you chose your new window style it would be wise to decide what material you want your windows making out of. Do you want timber or steel, plastic or aluminum? 

Below are the pros and cons of different window materials.

Softwood windows:

Costs: £6,000-£15,000, less if ‘DIYed’ on site

Pros:

  • Nothing can beat the tactility and detailing of a timber framed window
  • Softwood is popular among those on a limited budget as they are the cheapest option if glazed and decorated on site
  • Can be stained, but are usually painted
  • Suites both contemporary and traditional style homes

Cons:

  • On-site glazing carries a risk of double-glazing failure (i.e. misted units)
  • Factory glazing lowers the risk but costs more
  • Softwood requires repainting every few years

Best softwoods to choose:

Douglas fir is a very stable, durable softwood while European Redwood (also known as Scots Pine) is less prone to dimensional change and movement.

Hardwood windows

Costs: Between £8,000 and £20,000

Pros:

  • Have a tighter grain than softwoods, making them more stable and durable
  • Can be treated to be further stabilised
  • Most popular on traditional-style homes
  • Usually stained

Cons: 

  • It’s expensive — anything up to four times the cost of softwood

Window Styles - Beautiful Windows by IDSystems

Aluminium windows by IDSystems (Image credit: IDSystems Windows)

Aluminium windows

Costs: £8,000 - £18,000

One of the most popular materials for windows in contemporary homes, aluminium windows can offer slim sightlines or a frameless appearance.

Pros:

  • Energy efficient
  • Last up to 40 years
  • Little maintenance

Cons:

  • It can be up to 20% more expensive than PUVu windows
  • In some cases the colour can be limited

PVCu windows

Costs: £5,000-£15,000 for a one-off house

PVCu windows long reigned supreme as the dominant material for replacement windows and for good reason. A quick and easy option, plastic windows are low-maintenance and cheap.

Pros:

  • Cheapest overall although costs var with quality
  • Low-maintenance

Cons:

  • Can look cheap
  • Can reduce the value of period homes
  • Not easy to repair
  • Doors can be weak

Window Styles - Beautiful Windows by IDSystems

You don't need a big space to try a sliding window. Window by IDSystems (Image credit: IDSystems Windows)

Composite windows 

Costs: Between £10,000 and £25,000 — expect to pay 25% more for triple glazing

If you’re struggling with the choice of materials, there is a compromise — the so-called composite systems that mix different framing materials inside and out.

Pros:

  • Best of both worlds as they usually consist of timber windows with a weather-proof capping, such as aluminium strips or plastic
  • Can withstand harsh climates (widely used in such as Canada and Sweden)
  • Great for triple-glazing
  • Complement modern designs
  • Low maintenance but offer the warmth of timber

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Unlikely to be made to standard UK sizes if ordered from the Continent

Steel Warehouse Windows by Clement Windows

Steel warehouse style windows by Clement Windows (Image credit: Clement Windows LTD)

Steel windows 

Costs: Between £8,000 and £20,000

Steel windows are fast becoming a popular choice with people that want to create a European style finish or want to add a modern touch to a period renovation.

Pros:

  • Popular among contemporary-style homes but increasingly popular in period properties (particularly for Belgian doors)
  • Low maintenance
  • Produce finer frames

Cons:

  • Not as thermally efficient as wood
  • Can be expensive

It’s also useful to rank window costs on a square metre basis. 

Suppliers tend to dislike this because you don’t buy windows by the square metre: they are priced individually and generally the larger the actual window, the less it costs per square metre, so reducing a window range down to a square metre price is never going to produce an accurate pricing method. 

But from a comparison point of view, it’s a very useful tool.

Take the total amount quoted to supply windows and divide by the area of the window openings to derive the square metre rates.

Editor's Note: If you're looking for a quote for your windows, simply tell us a bit about your project in the questionnaire below and we’ll match your requirements with the services and prices that our partners offer. And don't worry, only partners that match your needs will reach out to you. 

What Different Windows Styles Can I Choose From?

Casement windows

A traditional British option (historically and in the 20th century), open-out casements are available in a variety of formats. Choose split casements for cottage-style designs and small glazed units to mimic ‘Georgian style’. In contemporary house styles, side hung and awning formations work well as there is no mullion to interrupt the view. 

Benefits of Casement Windows

  • Large casements tend to be the cheapest
  • Costs tend to be lower because they are made in modular, standard sizes
  • Great for ventilating rooms but as they can open wide, this might cause concern for those with small children or animal

Types of Casement Windows

  • Side Hung: The most recognisable casement. It is hinged at the side for easy opening
  • Top Light: A fixed pane divided from a narrow glazed top-hinged casement
  • Sliding Folding: The sash is hinged so that it folds, increasing the area of openable window to an almost clear expanse
  • Top Hung/ Awning: A casement window that is hinged at the top. Perfect for wet climates as it blocks out rain
  • Bottom Hung/ Hopper: A casement window that is hinged at the bottom. most commonly used in basement
  • Centre Hinge/ Pivot: A window that is hinged in the centre to allow for a wider opening, it requires less of a swinging clearance

Tilt and turn windows open inwards, and look best on modern designs. The ‘tilt’ option provides ventilation with security. 

  • They are typically made to order, increasing the cost
  • Secure
  • Great for smaller rooms where saving space is a priority

Fixed Windows 

Fixed windows are just that, fixed, so they don’t open out or let in any ventilation. However, they do maximise opportunities for natural light throughout a home. As they don’t need to be made to incorporate a opening mechanism, there are endless designs and styles to play around with.

  • Provides light in wasted spaces
  • Can create interesting designs
  • Usually the cheapest style of window

Steel Windows by Clement Windows

Stunning steel replacement casement windows by Clement Windows (Image credit: Clement Windows LTD)

Sash Windows 

Sash windows are essential when renovating or replicating Georgian and Victorian housing, still widely used on traditional-style new builds. Sizes are typically not standard but windows need to be in proport­ion to the house, so are often bespoke.

  • Timber sash windows require maintenance
  • Typically have vertical tracks so won’t fill up with leaves and detritus

Roof Windows

Introducing windows into the roof can work wonders to bring in natural light where conventional windows can’t be installed. Fixed windows that follow the roofline are typically known as skylights, while rooflights tend to open. Roof lanterns are common in orangery-style extensions and sunrooms as they replace a solid roof.

  • Rooflights are great for ‘rooms in the roof’ in loft conversions or one-and-a-half storey homes, which are steadily becoming more popular options among self-builders with height restrictions
  • Skylights are increasingly seen in terraced houses with side return extensions, providing light deeper into the floorplan
  • Roof lanterns offer a greater opportunity to introduce the maximum amount of light and help to achieve the illusion of extra head-height in extensions with flat roofs

Window Style - Frosted Window Film on a Bay Window Purlfrost

(Image credit: Bay Window Purlfrost)

Bay Windows

A bay window projects outward from the face of a building, forming a recess within a room. A Bay window can span more than one storey, as seen in many Victorian and Edwardian homes, and can be used in self-builds to create window seats and breakfast nooks. 

There are different types of styles of bay windows including:

  • Canted: This means the window is formed of straight front and angled sides
  • Bow: Where the window structure is architecturally curved
  • Oriel: Starting above ground level, an oriel window is supported by corbels or brackets as it jetties out from the main walls of a building

High-level Windows 

These are sometimes used to retain privacy but increase natural light or ventilation. In modern energy efficient houses, clerestory windows have been used in solar gain strategy and paired with stone, brick or concrete. In hotter parts of the day the elevated window position gains heat and essentially uses the structure below as a heat bank.

  • Let in extra light and ventilation
  • Great for rooms with high ceilings

Glazed Gables

An architecturally impressive way to flood a home with light, glazed gables don’t have to break the budget on a self build or extension if planned into the design early on. 

  • Add ‘wow factor’ to any room
  • Can suit traditional cottages just as well as modern designs

Window Styles - What Window Style to Choose to Suit Your Build

Modern bay windows can really bring the outside in (Image credit: Getty Images)

What Type of Glazing Should You Choose? 

Double Glazing

You can choose between on-site and factory double glazing.

On Site Double Glazing: This is the cheapest option for DIY self-builders, usually done with softwood frames which are then painted on site. Slow and time consuming, most suppliers are moving away from on-site glazing for new installations.

Factory Double Glazing: New methods in factory double glazing mean that many windows can be clipped into templates from inside, thus stream­lining the installation. However, it is more expensive than on-site glazing.

Low-emissivity or ‘low-E’ glass (as it is more commonly known) is a type of glazing designed specifically to prevent heat escaping through windows. Low-E double glazing meets Building Regulations in the UK (such as Part L1B in England) for replacement windows and new windows for extensions.

Benefits include:

  • Can reduce heat loss by at least as four or five times compared with single glazing
  • Solar control glass can be specified to educe excessive solar gain in the summer for areas of the home susceptible to overheating

Rooflights in modern loft space

The rooflights in this loft space bring in loads of light, while the internal glazing allows the space to feel much bigger  (Image credit: Someday Designs)

Triple Glazing

Once only popular in low-energy homes, triple glazing is rapidly becoming a standard solution for today’s window suppliers. 

Benefits include:

  • Excellent comfort levels as it evens our temperature profiles of rooms
  • Great for noise reduction for homes near busy roads etc
  • Helps minimise overheating
  • Some suppliers offer special coatings that will allow solar gain when required (i.e. in winter)

However, the issue is really around where to put it, with most experts agreeing that it’s near-essential on north-facing elevations with lots of glazing and to be generally avoided on south-facing elevations.

(MORE: Replacement Windows)

Aluminium Windows - SUNFLEX SF55 aluminium bifold window and door from IDSystems

You can match sliding windows to your bi-fold doors for a modern look (Image credit: IDSystems / Gruff Architects / Ben Blossom Photography)

How to Bring in More Natural Light

When you first step into a new home or freshly completed extension, the first thing people notice is whether it feels light and airy, or dark and dingy. This is impacted by the amount of natural light provided by window design.

Considering how an extension will affect the existing rooms is key in the longevity of your enjoyment in the new space so take the time to study where light will fall throughout the day and when you will utilise each room. Think about adding small side windows or clerestory windows to compensate.

For new homes, the luxury is the floorplan is freshly designed to suit each space’s needs, but be weary of overheating in rooms with too much glazing. As anyone who has been in a conservatory tacked onto the back of a house will attest, simply incorporating a lot of glazing isn’t necessarily a recipe for a comfortable interior.

(MORE: Bifold Doors)

Terrace house extension with extensive glazing

Glazing can drastically enhance kerb appeal, as in this contemporary front extension (Image credit: IQ Glass)

How to Order New Windows

This very much depends on whether you’re opting for off-the-shelf windows or bespoke products, and can also differ from company to company.

A general lead time would be around 12 weeks, however, it goes without saying that bespoke windows will inevitably carry longer lead times. It is best to not order too early on in the project in case amendments to the building design or aperture sizes occur.