Although the main aim of any window is to invite natural light and fresh air into a structure, we can all agree that they add to the visual aesthetics and beauty as well. Of course one has to pick the correct style and design of window.
Available in a variety of materials such as wood, aluminium and vinyl, windows also present different designs to choose from, including:
· Double-hung windows: with two sashes that slide vertically up and down in the frame, allowing them to be opened wide from either the top or bottom.
· Casement windows: hinged windows that operate by turn of a crank in an operating mechanism.
· Awning windows: hinged at the top, these windows open outward to let in air from the left or right and the bottom.
· Stationary windows: although they don’t open, these windows can be customised in nearly any angle or shape. They are mostly found in modern- or contemporary-style houses.
· Picture windows: a larger stationary window that lets in the maximum amount of light and views.
· Slider windows: gliding along a track, these windows have at least one operating window that slides horizontally over or past the other one.
Keep in mind that window designs differ according to country and climate. For example, in South Africa, a lot of buildings have double-glazed windows. Double-glazing refers to the glazing process where a window is formed from two panes of glass, and the space in-between filled with dehydrated air or a gas such as Xenon or Argon. The two panes of glass form a layer of insulation and are separated with an aluminium spacer, encapsulated in a primary silicone coating and then sealed with a secondary silicone or bitumen (waterproofing agent) sealant.
The air trapped between the two panes of glass form a layer of insulation.
This substantially reduces and regulates thermal loss from the inside, as well as solar heat gain from the outside, keeping the structure warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
Never assume that a window needs to be completely replaced – first ask a professional to assess your existing panes. If the glass is still intact, it can be a simple case of repairing the frames, which is a far less costly procedure.
Sourcing windows for energy efficiency purposes has a waiting time of around 3 – 4 weeks. It is not necessary to remove your existing windows for measurements. Even though seasoned DIYers are prone to fit their own windows, we recommend finding a team of professional window fitters for this task.
Remember that, during window fitting, the glass needs to be protected, because a shattered pane is a costly and time-consuming procedure.
For the inside of your home, window dressing can make a stylish statement while also ensuring privacy and shade. On the outside, most people tend to leave their windows as is; however, a few pretty window boxes, climbing plants/creepers, and/or colourfully painted frames can provide a high-quality look, depending on personal preference and the design/style of your house.
You first need to determine the function of the window treatment. Is it to block out light, add colour to an otherwise dull window or room, ensure some privacy from prying eyes, etc? Some prime options that are used for windows, in South Africa and abroad, include:
· Blinds: If you want to adjust the level of light and visibility, then blinds can be the most cost-effective choice. Blinds can be horizontal or vertical and are available in a variety of materials to suit your space (wooden blinds can add a rustic touch, aluminium blinds are durable and more suitable for bathroom and areas prone to high moisture, vinyl blinds are cheaper and easier to clean, etc.).
· Curtains: ideal for reducing heat fluctuations, depending on the fabric weave and colour (light-coloured curtains can dramatically reduce a room’s temperature during summer months by reflecting the sun’s rays).
· Shades: Translucent shades are ideal for allowing lots of direct sunlight into a room, while roller shades can provide instant privacy for rooms that require it, like a bathroom. Roman shades ensure a classic touch, are available in numerous colours and patterns, plus lend a soft touch via the fabric design.
· Shutters: If your main concern is light-blocking and privacy, shutters is your answer. They are also the best option if you are looking for additional protection against the elements.
Like all things, windows deteriorate over time due to age, usage and exposure to weather conditions. A relatively small investment in maintenance will extend the life of your windows in addition to reducing heat loss and energy consumption.
Generally speaking, proper inspection and maintenance should cover all components that make up windows, including:
· frame material and finishes
· operating hardware such as handles, cranks, hinges, latches and locks
· sealant joints and gaskets
· surrounding interior finishes for any signs of water leakage or damage.
Regular cleaning sessions, touching up paintjobs and proper inspection for cracked or broken panes and glass (as well as moisture content in-between the glazing panels) can all ensure more beautiful windows for longer.