How to choose a Window

Glazing can make or break a home design. Here’s what to consider in style, cost, material and efficiency, plus expert top tips and inspirational homes with windows done right

Without a doubt, one of the biggest purchases in a home building project, deciding on window styles can make or break your house design.

Our facades are often more window than wall these days, so it is highly important to take into account the thermal performance and energy efficiency, not just how much natural light it will bring to the table.

So whatever your project, the style of window you choose makes a huge impact on the overall appearance of the building and can influence how you interact with different rooms research is key. You should consider:

  • Design: Will your windows be classic and traditional, or sleek and contemporary?
  • Style: Find out about the different types of casements and what the styles bring to the table
  • Material: Compare cost, durability, and style.
  • Glazing: Thermal performance and energy efficiency are now high of the priority list for many self-builders and renovators
  • Costs: Take a look at our advice on comparing quotes



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Choosing the Right Window Style for Your Home

The positioning of windows will be informed and influenced by room layouts and the shape of the house itself but the shape and type of the windows themselves should be taken into serious consideration when deciding on the exterior and interior finishes.

For instance, a contemporary, single-story house is improved by similarly narrow, vertical windows but old cottages look odd with large glazed openings forced into thick stone walls.


Window Styles for Traditional Homes

If you’re building in a period style or renovating an older home, choosing appropriate materials and styles is a must — in most cases, this will mean timber casements or sashes. Modern window companies can replicate older styles where possible but unfortunately, you cannot effectively replicate wood grain with PVCu, although there are a few manufacturers might try.

Small casement windows are associated with cottages and there are some stunning offerings out there, but a trickier style to replicate with double glazing is a Georgian and early Victorian era multi-pan sliding sash as achieving glazing bars which are as elegant with modern methods is tough.


Window Styles for Contemporary Homes

Since 3500BC glass has been used to provide light, warmth and comfort to enhance peoples lives. Since then, the glass used in buildings has evolved and changed remarkably. In New Zealand, windows have become larger and generally contain low-e double glazing.

You could consider the more modern the house or build-style, the bigger and cleaner the glazing will be. Timber will soften a rendered exterior of a modern home, while aluminium windows create a perfect minimalist style.



Types of Casement-style Windows

1. Side Hung: The most recognizable casement. It is hinged at the side for easy opening
2. Top Light: A fixed pane divided from a narrow glazed top-hinged casement
3. Sliding Folding: The sash is hinged so that it folds, increasing the area of the openable window to an almost clear expanse
4. Top Hung/ Awning: A casement window that is hinged at the top. Perfect for wet climates as it blocks out rain
5. Bottom Hung/ Hopper: A casement window that is hinged at the bottom. most commonly used in a basement
6. Centre Hinge/ Pivot: A window that is hinged in the center to allow for a wider opening, it requires less of a swinging clearance

Tilt and Turn Windows

Continental-style tilt and turn windows open inwards, and look best on modern designs. The ‘tilt’ option provides ventilation with security. 

  • They are typically made to order, increasing the cost
  • Secure
  • Great for smaller rooms where saving space is a priority

Sash Windows

Sash windows are essential when renovating or replicating Georgian and Victorian housing, still widely used on traditional-style new builds. Sizes are typically not standard but windows need to be in proport­ion to the house, so are often bespoke.

Fixed Windows

Fixed windows are just that, fixed, so they don’t open or provide ventilation. However, they do maximise opportunities for natural light throughout a home. They also can: 

  • provides light in wasted spaces
  • allow for interesting designs

Bay Windows

A bay window projects outward from the face of a building, forming a recess within a room. A Bay window can span more than one storey, as seen in many Victorian and Edwardian homes. There are different types of styles of bay windows including:

  • Canted. This means the window is formed of straight front and angled sides.
  • Bow. Where the window structure is architecturally curved.
  • Oriel. Starting above ground level, an oriel window is supported by corbels or brackets as it jetties out from the main walls of a building.

Choosing the Best Material for Your Style of Window

Plastic Windows (UPVC)

PVCu windows long reigned supreme as the dominant material for replacement windows and for good reason. A quick and easy option, plastic windows are low-maintenance and cheap.


  • Good thermal efficiency
  • Low-maintenance


  • Can look cheap
  • Can reduce the value of period homes
  • Not easy to repair
  • Doors can be weak

Timber Windows (Wooden)

Timber’s main selling point is the feel and authenticity it offers to period-style homes: there is no real replacement for the warmth of traditional timber windows.


  • Excellent thermal efficiency
  • Nothing can beat the tactility and detail of a timber-framed window
  • Can be stained, but are usually painted
  • Suits both contemporary and traditional-style homes


  • requires repainting every few years

Aluminium Windows


  • Less expensive than other materials.
  • Aluminium is easy to maintain; available in anodized or baked-on finishes, so repainting is not needed.
  • It offers a slim profile and narrow frame which allows more glass area and increased sightlines.
  • Aluminium window frames are light-weight and can be customized to fit specific configurations.
  • Warp-resistant corners are mechanically joined to maintain their shape for many years.


  • It has a low R-value because it conducts (loses) heat and cold easily. Therefore, aluminium is the least energy-efficient of all the materials. Some manufacturers offer frames with built-in thermal breaks between the interior and exterior surfaces to improve efficiency.
  • Aluminium can be cold to the touch and is often prone to condensation.
  • Can be susceptible to corrosion if exposed to saltwater and salt air. This can lead to problems with operation and overall performance.

Thermally Broken Aluminium Windows 


  • Eliminate condensation
  • Conducts heat and noise 1000 times slower than normal aluminum
  • Flame retardant
  • An added layer of security
  • Low maintenance
  • Long-lasting
  • Durable
  • Non-corrosive
  • Thermal break technology
  • Excellent thermal and acoustic insulation
  • Powder-coated surfaces with a large range of colours

Steel/Fibreglass/Alloy Windows


  • Popular among contemporary-style homes but increasingly popular in period properties (particularly for Belgian doors)
  • GRP (fibreglass) can create a strong load-bearing frame
  • GRB can be supplied in any colour
  • Low maintenance
  • Produce finer frames


  • Not as thermally efficient as wood
  • Can be expensive


Choosing the Right Glazing for the Style of Window

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