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What is a Picture Window?

Tuesday August 30th, 2022
One of the most beautiful aspects of windows is the connection they weave between our homes and the outside world. We can stay comfortable and cozy while still being able to witness and observe the beauty of the nature. Picture windows are made for this exact purpose—to bring the wonder of nature into the heart of your home. They can be designed to fit into any space you desire; however, there are standard picture window sizes.

Standard Picture Window Sizes

Standard Picture Window Heights: 
• 24 inches
• 36 inches
• 48 inches
• 60 inches
• 72 inches
• 96 inches 

Standard Picture Window Widths:
 • 12 inches
• 18 inches
• 24 inches
• 36 inches
• 48 inches
• 52 inches
• 60 inches
• 62 inches
• 72 inches
• 96 inches

Whether you live in a large apartment overlooking the city or have a home nestled under towering trees, you’ll want a window to capitalize on those views. A picture window is designed to not only enhance one’s home aesthetic, but to also help save on energy costs and bring in natural lighting.

What is a Picture Window?

A picture window is usually a large window strategically placed in a location of the home that will capitalize on views and natural light. Picture windows are direct set, meaning they are non-operational and have a low-profile frame.

A picture window cannot be opened, and is usually glazed directly into the window frame. The frame is slim and unobtrusive so as not to distract from the outdoor views. Depending on the window style you want, they can come with or without window grilles. That said, it is common to skip the grilles, highlighting the glass pane to maintain an unobstructed view.

People commonly ask about ventilation, fearing that a picture window won’t allow enough airflow into the home. Because a picture window cannot be opened, this is a legitimate concern. To address this, most home designers have casement or double-hung windows adorning either side of a large picture window. This allows you to have the best of both worlds: a large window with beautiful views and windows with a screen that can be opened to allow fresh air into the home.

The ideal location for a picture window is dependent on the surrounding views of your home. That said, living room picture windows are a wonderful addition to the space, as they allow guests and the whole family to enjoy the outdoor scenery.

Picture windows are a great option for new construction or as a window replacement for an existing home, especially if the home is older and you’re looking to improve its energy efficiency. You can replace two double hung windows with a large picture window. Or, if you’re re-designing your home or adding an addition, you can design an entire wall to have a few large picture windows to fully open the space.

As you can see, picture windows are a great addition to any home, no matter the style or age.

Why is it Called a Picture Window? 

Picture windows are aptly named because it describes the purpose of the window. The main reason to install a picture window is to highlight the outdoor views and let natural light in.

Picture windows are inoperable, meaning they cannot be opened or closed. They are usually designed as large windows without grilles or a noticeable frame. In this way, they closely resemble a picture, but the image captured is one of the natural, living world.

Can Picture Windows Open?

No, picture windows cannot open. A picture window is often called a fixed window (the more proper term being “direct set”), meaning it is inoperable and “fixed” to the wall. The window glass is directly glazed to the frame, and the window frame does not have any moving parts.

Large picture windows have a long lifespan and are low-maintenance because they do not have moving parts. This window style is also one of the most energy-efficient window options you can choose, making it a great choice for replacement windows.

Do Picture Windows Have Screens?

A picture window doesn’t have a screen, and this is for a couple of reasons. The first being a screen is unnecessary because the window can’t open. The second reason is that a window screen would impede the clear view the large picture window is highlighting and would defeat the purpose of installing a picture window.

If you like the idea of a picture window, but you’re worried about air ventilation, then you’ll be pleased to know that many designers opt to install operable windows around a large picture window. Take living room windows, for example. They typically feature a large picture window in the center with smaller casement windows on either side. This way, you still have the energy-efficient picture window looking out over the stunning landscape, with smaller windows on either side to let in fresh air.

Another way to imagine the different possibilities is to have one wall dedicated to a large picture window and the opposite wall dedicated to a double hung window. Picture windows don’t need to be large, though; they also work well in small places that would benefit from more natural light.

What is the Difference Between a Casement Window and a Picture Window?

Casement windows and picture windows differ quite dramatically in their appearance, functionality, purpose, and design. A casement window is an operable window, meaning it can be opened or closed and has moveable parts and a window screen. Unlike traditional windows that open by sliding up or down, a casement window opens outward. To open a casement window, you turn a hand crank.

The benefit of casement windows is that they’re easy to open, allow plenty of air into the home, and are aesthetically pleasing. Casement windows also add curb appeal to your home, especially with specialty-designed exterior shutters.

A picture window cannot be opened, and is thus a stationary window without moving parts. Picture windows are usually larger than casement windows, and placed strategically in areas of the home where they will capture natural light and outdoor views.

Picture window sizes vary depending on the area you would like them, but the picture window size can also be custom fit for any space. Picture windows are typically featured in the living room and master bedroom, but they can be placed anywhere in the home.

Picture windows are also more energy efficient than casement windows because the window glass is directly glazed into the frame, creating a tight seal. This means no air can seep through gaps, and your home temperature is easily maintained.

Picture windows are also more weather-proof than casement windows because they don’t have moving parts or potential gaps. This means no water can seep in, and they’re less likely to be damaged or need replacement. Because of this, picture windows are ideal for areas that receive ample sunlight and experience harsh weather, such as the south side of the home.

Casement windows are an ideal choice if you want an easy-to-operate window that allows fresh air. Both windows have their pros and cons. Most modern homes have a combination of operable windows and picture windows.  

What is the Difference Between a Fixed and a Picture Window?

Picture windows are often described as fixed windows, which can be confusing. They are “fixed,” but they’re not technically a fixed window.

Allow us to explain: in most contexts the word “fixed” is used to describe the window structure, meaning it’s fixed into the frame and cannot open. In the window world, however, there is such a thing as a fixed window, and it’s not the same as a picture window.
A fixed window is similar to a picture window in that it cannot be opened and is usually a large window. The difference between the two is in the frame. A fixed window has a larger, sometimes more decorative frame than a picture window. These frames are bulkier, add architectural character to the home, and are typically designed to match the frames of accompanying windows.

A picture window is a direct set window and is designed to have a low-profile frame. This ensures the glass surface is maximized and that the frame doesn’t distract from the outside views. Most often, a picture window won’t have grilles or slim sightlines to avoid impeding the view. Fixed windows are different in that they commonly have decorative grilles to match the other windows in the house.

It can be easy to confuse the fixed window style with picture windows, as they are almost identical except for the structure of the window frame. The bottom line is that fixed windows have large, noticeable frames while picture windows have slim and discreet frames.

Are Picture Windows More Energy Efficient?

Yes, one of the main benefits of picture windows is how incredibly energy efficient they are! Besides their aesthetic value, picture windows are sought after for their ability to maintain home temperature levels.

Picture windows are one of the most energy efficient windows you’ll find, simply because they can’t open. The glass is sealed into the frame, which prevents drafts from getting into the house. Because picture windows let in so much light during the day, artificial lights aren’t needed, which will help save on electricity.

You can also make your picture window even more energy efficient with the window material used. For example, you can choose multiplane glass units and low e glass. Low e glass (low-emissivity glass) is a type of glass that reflects heat and minimizes infrared and ultraviolet light. This means your south-facing picture window won’t let in too much heat, which will help maintain the home’s temperature.

All that to say, a hung window or operable window is still energy efficient. However, over time the moving parts will experience wear and tear, resulting in drafts that leak into the home. Because of this, picture windows are considered lower maintenance and will save money in the long run.

Choose Your Perfect Picture Window with Rustica Today!

Picture windows are a window style that allows for impressive views, increases curb appeal, and allows natural light into the home. They are the perfect window replacement option. They’re also a great window type to consider if you’re remodeling a home for energy efficiency and aesthetic value.

Picture windows are truly one-of-a-kind, and are a superb addition to the home. If you want a high-quality window that you can customize to fit your needs, check out Rustica’s selection of picture windows. Whether you’re looking for patio design ideas, window styles, or designer barn doors, Rustica is your one stop shop.  
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