Garden windows are an excellent way to open up a room and include a slice of the outdoors in your home. They protrude from the exterior wall for a three-dimensional effect, creating indoor shelf space that can be used to grow herbs and flowers or display treasured collectibles. Typically found in kitchens and baths, garden windows may also allow additional ventilation through hinged top or side panels that open with a crank, much like casement or awning windows.
The most frequently used materials in garden window frames are vinyl and aluminum, although wood frames are also available. These are some of the features of each material:
- Vinyl: resists fading and peeling, is impervious to rot, and provides excellent thermal insulation. Operable top and/or side vents allow for ventilation. Both standard and optional colors are impregnated into the vinyl material.
- Aluminum: newer aluminum construction incorporates air pockets that greatly improve thermal performance. Colors are powder-coated or anodized, and resist fading and chipping. Aluminum frames are weatherproof and virtually maintenance-free. Operable top and/or side vents provide ventilation.
- Wood: sturdy and always in style, this natural material complements the outdoor/indoor and garden element of the window. Wood frames require periodic painting and maintenance, and may be subject to rot and peeling. Limited availability may make them a more expensive option, and they are heavier, which can make installation more difficult.
Garden windows can be ordered in multi-pane construction with coatings, and an inert gas between the panes to increase energy efficiency.
By carefully choosing the frame materials and glass construction that will perform best in your climate, you can ensure optimum energy efficiency in your garden window. Pay attention to the insulation coefficient, solar heat gain, and air leakage. Become familiar with the following terms and refer to them when researching garden windows:
- NFRC ratings: the National Fenestration Rating Counsel provides ratings for window performance. Look for the NFRC label on your garden windows
- Energy Star: this government certification program may qualify your garden window for tax rebates
- R-Value: look for a high R-value, which means that your garden window has less heat loss
- U-Value: a U-value of 0.35 or lower means that your garden window performs well in preventing air leakage
To further enhance your garden window's energy efficiency, you can choose an inert gas such as argon between panes to reduce heat transfer. If you live in a warm climate, also choose a low-e coating applied to the outside window surface keep heat out. For colder climates, a low-e coating on the inside of the window glass helps retain heat.
Manufacturers and prices
Manufacturers of quality garden windows include Alside, Andersen, Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork, Mildgard, Pella Sunrise, Thermal Industries, Tru-Frame, and more. You can plan on spending around $1,000 and up for a garden window. Prices will vary by manufacturer, size, materials, and options.
Shopping garden windows
To begin your search for the perfect garden window, use the form on this page. You will also find it useful to contact one or more manufacturers by telephone or email, and to visit dealers' showrooms and home improvement stores. When getting a quote, be sure to have all the information on hand, including window size and any options you might want. Be sure that installation, shipping, and taxes are included in your budget calculations.