Sliding Windows: An Underutilized Option for Wide Window Openings

When the time comes to replace your home’s windows, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is which style of window to use in each window opening. Most homeowners stick with the classics — double-hung and casement windows, perhaps with fixed windows in larger openings. However, there is another option to consider, which are sliding windows.

Sliding windows are an underutilized style, but they have a lot of advantages and are a particularly good choice for wide windows and windows against a patio or porch. Here’s a closer look at sliding windows and how you might use them in your home.

Where to Use Sliding Windows

Sliding windows consist of two window sashes placed side by side. They slide along a top and bottom track made of metal or vinyl. To open the window, you push one sash to the side. Some sliding windows are designed so that both sashes slide, and other styles only permit one sash to slide.

Because the windows remain in the tracks when open, sliding windows are a good choice for window openings against a porch or patio. You do not have to worry about the open window jutting out into the patio space like a casement window would. If you have guests gathered on the patio, you can even hand items out to them through the sliding window if you wish.

You may also wish to place a sliding window in a window opening where you previously had a fixed picture window. Because the sliding window consists of two side-by-side panels, it looks fashionable in a wide window opening. You can open a sliding window for ventilation, which you can’t do with a fixed picture window.

Benefits of Sliding Windows

Sliding windows feature a very simple design and operating system. Since they have less hardware, they’re less likely to break. And if they do break, they are often quite easy to fix. When a window stops sliding freely in the tracks, it is usually just because the tracks are dirty. If the latch or catch mechanism fails, your window manufacturer can generally replace it so that you don’t have to replace the whole window.

Sliding windows are also very easy to open. They don’t require the finger dexterity that a casement or awning window does, so even homeowners with arthritis in their hands and wrists can open and close them with ease. You do not have to worry about children’s fingers getting caught in hinges, either.

Drawbacks of Sliding Windows

Sliding windows do have a few drawbacks. They are often harder to clean than other window styles since you can’t reach the outside of the window from the inside. For this reason, you may want to place them only on the bottom floor of your home so you can clean the exterior surfaces without having to climb a tall ladder.

The tracks in which the windows slide are also a bit difficult to clean. You may need to use a cotton swab or pipe cleaner to remove grime from the grooves.

Sliding windows are also less energy-efficient than casement and awning windows since the sash does not lock as tightly into the window frame. You can still find sufficiently efficient sliding windows with energy-efficient glass and insulating frame materials, but they will never be quite as efficient as casements.

If you have a wide window opening or one against a patio, think about putting a sliding window in that opening. Contact Window Design Center to learn more about our sliding window options. We even offer free estimates online, utilizing real pictures of your home uploaded from your smartphone.