Windows are taking a bigger role of the home’s design in both size and style; however, performance remains as important as ever to homeowners.

In recent years, whether through upgrades offered by new home builders, custom-built retirement abodes or renovations for energy efficiency, homeowners are becoming increasingly involved in window decisions, manufacturers say.

“We’re seeing very different homes being built,” says John Arsenault, Director of Sales for Peter Kohler Windows and Entrance Systems. “It used to be that homeowners would stick to the paint colours and the flooring, but the new consumer is more educated and they’re looking at a lot of building material options.”

“Windows and doors become a big part of the spend sometimes. They’re really important depending on the homeowners’ views from a scenic standpoint.”

Black and White

Two tones are particularly important when it comes to windows fashion. On the exterior, black windows are becoming even more popular, manufacturers say.

“Painted windows are continuing to grow like crazy, in particular black windows” Arsenault says. “You see whole streets going up with black windows in every home.”

Darker trim makes windows pop, says Marianne Thompson, Vice-President of Sales for JELD-WEN of Canada. She points to popular exterior vinyl colours like blacks, browns and clay, adding that many homeowners coordinate this colour choice with their entrance or garage door.

White interior windows are, of course, always a safe bet. Thompson notes that this is because a white window interior ties it closely to the room’s moulding, which is typically white.

“Windows are now part of the design process of the interior. Colour and options to have a wood looking interior without the maintenance provide a designer or a homeowner flexibility with their windows inside not just outside,” says Tracy Nadiger, Director of Marketing at All Weather Windows.

She says coloured interiors are gaining in popularity, particularly black or other “timeless finishes” like stainable fir. An impressive variety of wood grain substrates are now available as stainable interior wood foils, she suggests, but without the need for maintenance of actual wood windows.

Is Bigger Better?

Larger windows have become a popular aesthetic for many homeowners. “Larger glass continues to gain popularity as homeowner’s design windows to bring more of the outside inside,” Nadiger says.

The trend parallels one seen in entrance systems (See: Doors: What Consumers Want, page 14). Just as the 9’ ceilings are becoming the new norm, this trend is driving homeowners toward tall, wide doors, and they are also helping to promote the same in windows, Arsenault says.

“We’re seeing a lot more of that. Tall windows with a small operating window at the top or bottom,” he says, adding there’s less focus on window grills to create a larger, more open appearance. “We’re seeing a lot of that. It’s a more modern look.”

However, larger panes of glass can have a performance impact to consider and account for. “Homeowners want bigger and larger windows, especially on the rear of their house, but as you get bigger glass units you need more steel reinforcement, and that’s a negative impact on energy performance,” Arsenault says.

Photos courtesy of All Weather Windows

Photo courtesy of Peter Kohler Windows and Entrance Systems

The Rise of Contemporary

Modern-contemporary styles, featuring right angles, straight lines and simplicity continue to gain traction in the windows market, just as they have in doors, cabinetry and other areas of the home.

“If you imagine a Craftsman-style door, the same thing is going on in the area of windows,” Thompson says of this design trend. “The profile is very linear, meaning it’s flat.”

Form, Function or Both?

For many homeowners, nothing looks better than feeling comfortable. Fortunately, with Low-E options and multi-pane glass there is no trade-off needed between aesthetics and performance.

“Triple-pane glass is now offered in all our window lines, from sliders to awnings and casement windows,” Nadiger notes. “Comfort is a feature that most people underestimate in a (window) renovation, but we hear a lot of feedback that they can’t believe how quiet their home is, and warm.”
Consumers are generally more educated and familiar with the issues of energy efficiency, and everyone wants the best for their home, Thompson adds.

The consumer demand for energy efficient windows has even started to go beyond building code requirements, Arsenault suggests. “Homeowners are now asking about Passive House certified windows, in addition to Energy Star and Green Build, NetZero and LEED.”

“We have engineers who work closely with builders and (now) consumers who have very specific requirements about the low-e (low-emissivity) being used. We never had requests like that 10 years ago.”

Photo courtesy of JELD-WEN

Mixed Materials – Vinyl, Aluminum and Acrylic

When it comes to combining style and performance an innovation is gaining traction, according to Marianne Thompson, Vice-President of sales at JELD-WEN of Canada.

Hybrid windows, such as her company’s DF hybrid window family, combine the interior aesthetics and low-maintenance that come from high-performance all-vinyl windows (on the inside), but with the increased durability to weather and elements attributed to aluminum cladding (on the exterior).

“It increases the durability and weather protection and enhances the appearance of the window,” she says. These windows typically have a darker exterior profile with white interior.Tracy Nadiger, Director of Marketing for All Weather Windows points contractors and homeowners to the use of acrylic foil in place of paint or aluminum clad windows.

The advantage, she says, is her company’s interior and exterior acrylic foil wrap—a unique combination of polymers to reduce heat absorption, improve UV resistance and resist weathering—which is also scratch resistant and has a 10-year warranty. —

Photos courtesy of JELD-W