There is an easy way to add visual drama to your home's exterior and interior design and create a sense of openness and flow between the inside and the outside. Picture windows provide open expanses of glass that bring light and exterior views into the home. From the exterior, minimal mullions and few panes of glass draw a viewer's eye right to the window. Picture windows can be purchased premade or built into a structure's framework.
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Definition of Picture Window
Picture windows are windows without mullions or separate panes, designed to frame an exterior landscape or view so that the occupants of the home see the landscape as if it were a picture. Picture windows are also used to allow more light into a space and may be placed as clerestory windows, which are installed at higher heights than other windows. Some manufacturers build smaller, single-pane picture windows designed to frame a view in a smaller space, such as the end of a corridor or over a kitchen sink. Picture windows can also be built at the construction site instead of being purchased from a manufacturer.
Picture Window Sizes
Standard picture window sizes are usually referred to as stock window sizes. Stock sizes help the buyer distinguish between what is available for purchase right away or that can be easily manufactured, and what is a custom size. Stock picture window sizes start at 12 inches in width and height and increase in size by 6 inches -- i.e.18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48 inches. Depending upon the manufacturer, a stock picture window can be as large as 72 inches in height and width. Sizes as tall as 96 inches or more are typically custom-ordered from a manufacturer. Some manufacturers may consider smaller picture window sizes, such as 12- and 18-inch widths, to be custom windows.
Using Picture Windows
Dennis Wedlick, author of the book “Good House Parts,” suggests that the picture window may work best when the style or shape of the window integrates with the overall character of the home. For instance, a group of picture windows placed together on a single wall works well with a contemporary home. In this type of design, same-sized picture windows can be aligned in a row, or several sizes can be arranged to appear as a larger window, such as a large square picture window flanked by two narrower picture windows.
Building Picture Windows
Knowledgeable carpenters can build picture windows. The window opening is part of the exterior wall construction, and the carpenter frames the opening with a window sill and casing. The appropriate piece of glass is purchased and placed into the frame and sealed around the edges to prevent wind and weather from entering around the glass. This type of picture window may be referred to as a “stationary window,” a name that indicates that the window cannot be opened.
Types of Picture Windows
Not all picture windows are single panes of glass. Bay and bow windows are a variation of the picture window that use more than a single pane of framed glass to create a broad, exterior view. Casement windows are another example of a picture window that incorporates more than one pane of glass. Casement windows operate as a pair of picture windows that sit next to each other and are hinged along the exterior sides of the overall frame. The windows open out or swing in, depending upon the requirements of the builder or home owner.