A casement window is a window that swings open inwardly or outwardly. Like a door, the casement window swings on hinges. It can be fitted with either a latch or a handle that is used to crank the window open. The casement window has evolved into an elegant architectural statement, and its classic and simple design can be found throughout Europe and America today.
The casement window was the earliest form of movable window. A fine medieval example of this style window can be viewed at the Falstaff Inn at Canterbury, Kent, England. Timber casement windows were developed from the heavy oak frames of medieval windows, and these were the most common style used by the second half of the eighteenth century. Originally, casement windows held six panes of glass in each "casement." Occasionally, Gothic arches and smaller panes were used, especially during the mid 1800's. With glass improvements, the basic casement window changed once again, being made of two panes in each casement, with a leaded bar in the center. Since the earliest casements were constructed with oak frames, these were left unpainted. But with the softer wood used in the nineteenth century, frames in casements were always painted. White was the common color of choice, but strong colors like blues, greens, blacks and even deep reds were sometimes used. With the advent of the sash window in the early 1900's, the casement window declined in popularity, though today this window style is enjoying a resurgence.
Casement windows can be found in a few basic styles. A single casement, hinged on the side, can open swinging in or swinging out. A French casement window consists of two casements, each with a single pane of glass. These casements open in the center. The French casements, in fact, were used in the United States to open onto balconies and porches, and eventually became known as French doors or French windows. An awning casement window is hinged at the top and opens from the bottom and upward.
Basically, a casement window is constructed with a frame, lights (panes of glass), and hinges. In Europe, casement windows most commonly open with a latch, and the German and British custom is casement windows opening outward. In the United States, almost all casement windows open using a crank-style handle. The casement window can be installed as a single unit, and can be constructed with a wood or metal frame.
When installing casement windows, be certain that if the windows open outward, there is ample space for opening. Occasionally, casement windows will conflict with one another and the homeowner will be unable to properly open a window.
The casement window can open much more widely than any other style window. Though this may prove beneficial for catching a cross breeze, it could also prove dangerous for small children who could easily fall out of a casement window with no obstruction.
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