The Ultimate Window Guide: Types, Materials, and Casings

You want to buy new windows, and you’re wondering where to start. Let this be your guide! Below, find out just about everything you need to know about windows.


There are almost as many types of windows as there are houses. With some careful planning, you can find the perfect type of window to suit your needs and home.

First, you need to know that overall, windows come in two varieties: fixed and operable. Fixed windows cannot be opened, so they are good for letting in light but not appropriate if you want your window to provide ventilation. Operable windows can be opened and closed, allowing for light and ventilation.

That said, now let’s look at the different styles of windows:

#1 Casement (operable): This type of window has a hinge on the right or left side and opens outward when a crank is turned. If you won’t get tired of turning the crank, this window offers excellent ventilation, noise reduction and easy cleaning. It is also draft-proof.

#2 Double-hung (operable): This type has two panels that both slide vertically to open and close. Because both panels are operable, this style offers great ventilation. Many double-hung window options can also be tilted inward for easy cleaning. The downside to this type of window is that there is a horizontal bar in the middle that obstructs your view.

#3 Single-hung (operable): Like double-hung windows, this window type has two panels and slides vertically; however, only the bottom can be opened and closed. It offers less ventilation than a double-hung window but is typically cheaper.

#4 Sliding/gliding (operable): This window has two panels. Some options allow both panels to open, while others only allow one. This type is particularly good at conserving energy.

#5 Awning (operable): This window operates via a hinge at the top. It can be opened outward  (meaning you can leave it open in the rain) and installed above or below picture windows.

#6 Picture/stationary (fixed): If you do not need your window to open, a picture window is the perfect option: you can find innumerable styles and varieties, including rectangular, square, round, octagonal, bay, and bow windows. This type of window allows maximum light and often completely unobstructed views.

#7 Glass block (fixed): This type is ideal for increased home security due to its break-resistant glass. It is also useful for spaces where light is desired but privacy is important, such as a first-floor bathroom.

#8 Skylight (fixed or operable): This type of window will allow light and, if operable, ventilation while using little space. The tunnel variety will even add light into a dark space with few windows. The downside of this type is that, unless it is operable, you will need to clean the exterior from the roof.


Despite all being made of glass, all windows are not created equal. The number of panes and the presence of insulation or glazing will affect the energy efficiency of your home.

Single-pane windows: Just like they sound, single-pane windows have only a single pane of glass. They are not insulated. Because of this, they are not very energy efficient or very good at keeping out noise. If you live in a quiet neighborhood in a mild climate, this option could work. For those of us who live in Ohio and Kentucky, however, single-pane windows are not recommended. While they have a cheaper initial cost, you will end up paying more in the long run via higher energy bills.

Double-pane windows: These windows are made of two panes of glass separated by a layer of air or argon gas, which acts as an insulator. Because of the extra pane and insulation, these windows are quite good at noise reduction and are very energy efficient. They cost more up front but will lower your home’s energy costs over their lifetime.

Triple-pane windows: With three panes of glass and two layers of insulation, these windows are the most energy efficient and noise-reducing windows on the market. As a result, they are more expensive than double-pane windows.

Low-Emissive (low-E) glass: This is a glazing applied to the surface of the glass, either on the outside or between the panes. It is useful for several reasons. It allows light to enter the home while protecting from harmful UV rays, which can cause skin cancer and fade the furniture and artwork in your home. It also prevents the transfer of heat through the glass. (On a hot day, it keeps heat out, and on a cold day, it keeps heat in.)

Heat-absorbing tints: Windows can be tinted to absorb solar radiation and reduce glare. Depending on the color, the tint prevents light or heat from entering the home. (Gray or bronze-tinted windows let in less light and heat, while blue or green-tinted windows let in more light and heat.)


Window casings are the molding that go around the frame of the window. Outside, the casing seals the window and prevents air from leaking. Inside, the casing serves to match the window with the baseboards and molding of the room, creating a cohesive look. When you choose a window casing, you should take into account your budget, the style of your home, and the amount of window maintenance you are willing to do. Window casings come in many styles, from minimal and modern to elaborate and high-profile.

Wood: This is one of the most popular window casings because of its beautiful, customizable appearance and its functionality. Wood is often chosen where the window casing will be seen from the inside. It is also chosen because it does not conduct cold or allow for much condensation. Wood casings require more maintenance than other types.

Clad-wood: A clad-wood window is made with uncovered wood on the inside and wood covered with aluminum or vinyl on the outside. Aluminum and vinyl are both easy to paint, which means you can match this type to your home’s exterior. This makes the window nearly maintenance-free, as it impervious to rust and rot.

Fiberglass: This type of window casing justifies its higher price tag by being extremely durable and weather-resistant, requiring no maintenance. It has the best insulation of all window casings and is very environmentally friendly. It is also paintable and even comes in a faux-wood finish.

Aluminum: This type is lighter, thinner, and more durable than wood. It can also be insulated with a layer of foam, helping to reduce heat loss and condensation.

Vinyl: This type of window is made with hollow PVC to reduce heat loss and condensation. Cheaper vinyl windows have the downside of sometimes becoming harder to operate and drafty over time.

Choosing new windows for your home is a big decision. When considering your options, make sure to take into account your budget (including the up-front and long-term costs of each window option), the style of your home, the maintenance you are willing to perform, and the functionality you need from each window. Also keep in mind that you may need different windows throughout your house: it’s perfectly okay to mix and match! On a north-facing wall, you may want a large, clear picture window that lets in as much soft, diffused light as possible. On a south-facing wall, you may want a smaller or tinted window to combat the intense light and heat that enters.

If you have questions, contact the experts at Jack’s Glass. We’ve been helping homeowners and businesses choose and install beautiful, functional, efficient windows for more than 70 years. We’d be happy to do the same for you!