The year may be only halfway over, but already the window industry has witnessed some clear trends in residential installations, spurred on by shifting tastes and a new interest in the energy efficiency of a home’s fenestration. Overall the dominant pattern is to select windows that let in more light and make homes seem airier and more spacious, along with choosing products that will have a positive effect on a household’s energy spending.
Meanwhile, contemporary styles are in, in a big way, bringing in a wave of windows that are larger and less adorned than their predecessors. Modern homes feature wider, uninterrupted views that let homeowners appreciate the beauty of nature, and energy efficient models that help protect it, too. Those are just the general trends, of course. Let’s take a look at the specific designs and products that are dominating the market in 2016.
Vinyl is king
Homeowners have embraced the energy efficiency of low maintenance vinyl frames, using them in place of older wood or aluminum models. Vinyl is durable and has the benefit of natural air pockets, that make it naturally insulating. Another advantage homeowners love is that vinyl doesn’t need to be repainted—the color is uniform from the surface all the way into the interior, so scratches aren’t readily visible the way they are with aluminum frames. Meanwhile, they won’t warp the way wooden frames will. Their efficiency and appearance make them a great choice for today’s busy homeowners.
Let in the light
Natural light is what it’s all about this year, and homeowners are celebrating the sun by installing large casement windows, especially in living and dining areas. Wide, pane-free casement windows allow for uninterrupted views and can matched to almost any architectural style, including modern homes. Their simplicity and beauty makes them ideal for many different households—but in 2016, homeowners have been particularly drawn to very large versions, in some cases even extending these windows from floor-to-ceiling.
Glass is getting smarter
These days, everything is getting a new “smarter” version, and that includes the glass in your windows, too! Smart or dynamic glass is made from a specialized material that can automatically switch tints to reduce glare and solar heat and adjust to other temperature fluctuations, as quickly as the weather changes. That could eventually make blinds and shades virtually obsolete. This glass is so high tech, in fact, that innovators imagine it will one day become a replacement for computer screens—imagine projecting your email directly onto your windows! Smart glass is still new, of course, but this year has seen it gaining popularity in the market, and experts predict it will the next big thing in window technology.
Low-E glass reaches new heights
While not all of us may be ready to bet hard on smart glass, Low-E glass offers something of a compromise in terms of energy efficiency. This glass is coated with a microscopically thin layer that reflects heating and cooling back into the home. It works like a thermos does—keeping cold air and hot air inside, not allowing either to seep through the surface of the glass. The benefit of Low-E glazing is that you don’t have to choose between being uncomfortable during one weather extreme—the glass works well in all weather conditions. That’s made it a big hit with homeowners, who are looking for energy savings on their energy bills year round.
Ditch the white
Sure, white window frames are nice, with a stately, classic appeal, but modern homeowners don’t have to resign themselves to plain palettes. Accordingly, many have switched out the classic white frames for something a little more unique. Teal, bronze, rust, and many other hues have found their way to window frames this year, letting homeowners express their own personal tastes and add an extra punch of curbside appeal to their windows. In particular, colored frames look lovely as an accent for brick structures.
Architectural windows on the rise
Homes with multiple stories or tall floors are increasingly being fitted with high accent windows, which sit above those at eye-level to let in a little extra light. Arched windows need not apply, however—this look is all about the angles, so a small rectangular casement window is a much more modern choice.
It’s a gas
Window installers are reporting a high number of requests this year for double- or triple-hung windows insulated with argon or krypton layers between glass panes. These gases are heavier than air, so they slow drafts from entering a home. They’re also often ENERGY STAR certified, and work to reduce frost and condensation from gathering on the glass. In addition, they increase heating and cooling efficiency, and are generally a cheaper option than Low-E glass. Many high-end windows now include argon insulation as standard in double-hung models, so if you’re shopping for new fenestration, it’s a good idea to check the window’s specs to see just what you’re getting.
There was a time when every homeowner’s most urgent desire was for a set of arch-top windows to create a feeling of Italian luxury in their homes. This year, however, rounded is out. Homeowners now are drawn to contemporary lines, and that means sharp, geometric angles in windows. What it doesn’t mean, however, is views that are broken up by lots of smaller panes or other decorative elements. Simple and streamlined is where it’s at.
Blinds, built right in
Contractors have also seen a rise in windows with integral blinds in homes this year. These triple-hung windows have blinds built right into the glass—they sit positioned between two layers to protect them from dust and damage, meaning they theoretically don’t have to be replaced or cleaned as frequently. Many models are also motorized to avoid the hassle of tangled cords, and most cat-owners report they definitely cut back on damage from prying felines.
Hopefully this list has given you some food for thought and provided some insight as you make the journey toward purchasing new windows in your home. Here’s to a great rest of your year—with the windows of your dreams!