Choosing windows is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a homeowner. Not only will it affect the look and feel of your home, it will greatly influence your home’s energy efficiency.
In some cases your log producer may include a certain brand of window with their log package. Often this is because they feel that brand is the best on the market. If you disagree, you can choose the windows you want. Just know what you’re doing before you make that decision.
There are three major glazing options for windows: single glaze, double glaze and triple glaze. Your decision here will depend greatly on climate. If you live in a mild climate, a single glaze window may provide all the energy efficiency you need at less cost.
If winters are brutal where you live, the extra money you spend on double or triple glaze windows will be well worth the added comfort. And the higher sticker price will be made up with lower heating costs.
Beyond selecting glazings, you can also choose how each glaze is tinted. Bronze- or gray-tinted glass reduces solar heat gain. Remember though, it also reduces visible light creating darker rooms.
Frame choice can greatly influence window appearance and performance. Window frames can be made of one or a combination of materials.
Aluminum is light, strong and durable, making it ideal for custom window design. The downfall: it causes conductive heat loss, which decreases a window’s overall energy efficiency.
Wood framing is a great option if you want your windows to have a more traditional look. From a performance standpoint, wood is great for energy efficiency. The biggest drawback is maintenance. Wood must be protected from moisture because it is susceptible to warping, cracking and rot.
Vinyl is a versatile plastic with good insulating value. Vinyl frames are available in a wide range of shapes and styles. They don’t require painting and offer good moisture resistance.
Fiberglass frames offer the best energy efficiency performance. Fiberglass is a strong, durable material, making it ideal for large expanses of glass and also virtually maintenance-free.
When it comes to choosing a style of window, decide how you want each to look and perform. Some styles are designed for bringing in natural light, some to take advantage of views and some to let in cool summer breezes.
Awning windows feature a sash that pivots at the top. A crank handle opens the bottom outward and up. They are suited for damp climates because they open without letting moisture in.
Bay windows are a composite of three or four windows that project out from the house. They consist of a large (usually fixed) center unit and two flanking units (usually double-hung or casement) angled to the wall. Bay windows provide great straight-ahead and directional views.
Casement windows consist of one sash hinged to a side jamb. They usually open outward from the sill by a crank handle or slider bar. They offer good ventilation and are known for their weather-tight construction.
Double-hung windows feature two sashes that slide along side jambs from top to bottom. They give a traditional appearance and slide up and down for easy cleaning.
Palladian windows have three openings where the central one is usually arched and wider than the others.
Picture windows are large and fixed, making them great for views, but not for ventilation.
Slide-by or slider windows work like double-hung windows, only turned sideways.
Transom windows are small, usually rectangular windows on top of a window or door hinged to a transom.
Windows can make or break your log home. Weigh your options and make an informed decision based on energy efficiency, functionality and appearance.
To learn more about window options for your log home, check out the September 2004 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.