Window 101: Parts of a Window

When I first started in the window business a lot of the terms were foreign to me. Grilles? You mean like the one in my backyard? However, once you look at a diagram of a window and read the part descriptions, it’s easy to master all the terminology required to make an informed decision about replacement windows.

Parts of a Window:

There are six main parts of a window. The terms for each part are listed below, test yourself and see how many you can correctly match. Or, just skip below to read the correct terms and descriptions. 

Grilles Low E4 Coating Frame Sash Cladding Insulated Glass 

(Photo:Consumer Reports)

  1. Frame: Outer structure of the window that holds the sash in place. The frame is the foundation of the window; it creates it’s shape and provides structure. For most replacement windows, the original frame of the window remains in tact, just the sash/glass is replaced.

  2. Cladding: A wrapping around the outside of the window frame. Cladding protects the exterior of a wood or composite window(vinyl windows have cladding already in place) from the elements. Cladding is made of fiberglass or vinyl ideally. Many windows are also aluminum-cladded, but stay away from this cladding if at all possible because it is a conductor. If the outside of your window is cladded, it most likely will never have to be painted.

  3. Sash: The body of the window. This is the main part of the window that moves. Many windows have a tilt-in sash that allowed you to tilt the window inside for easy cleaning.

  4. Insulated glass: Glass that has a special air pack trapped inside your window, to make it more energy efficient. Double-paned windows have a sealed space between the two panes that is either filled with air or another gas that insulates better than air. Argon gas is standard on many windows, but it often dissipates almost immediately after leaving the factory. To get real energy savings you need a gas pack that includes Krypton, which prevents Argon dissipation.

  5. Low-E coating: Layer applied to the glass of windows to make them more energy efficient. This coating is transparent, so it doesn’t look purple. It improves energy efficiency by reflecting heat yet still lets light in. In warmer climates, the coating is applied to the outside of the glass; in super cold areas its applied to in inside to prevent heat from escaping.

  6. Grilles: The small bars that create a pattern on your windows. Grilles are purely for decoration. The can come between the window panes, on top and are available in a variety of different shapes, styles and patterns to match your home and personal style.

Added Features:

The six parts of a window above are standard on virtually every window that you will purchase. However there is a myriad of upgrades and additions that you can make to replacement windows to make them more energy efficient and stylish. Here are some of the most common added features in the window market:

  • Between the Glass Grilles: These are grilles are are installed between two or three window panes. They look like they are “inside” the window; you cann’t touch them. These help with cleaning, since you wont have to clean individual sections of glass.

  • Hardware & Finish Upgrades: If you want a fancier window handles/cranks/locks style or non-traditional finish color.

  • Non-Standard Colors: If you want a special type of color outside or hand painting

  • Jamb Extensions: Added when extra depth is needed to the window frame

  • Triple Insulated Glass: This glass has three layers, which improves energy efficient and reduces noise significantly.

  • Simulated Divided Light Grilles: Grilles that are are applied to both sides of the window (room side & outside). It’s used to simulate the look of a window with multiple glass lites.

  • Tilt-In Sashes: Allows the window sash to tilt-in completely so you can clean the outside from the inside of the home.

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