When remodeling your bathroom, you’re choosing all sorts of new design elements. It’s easy to get caught up in that gorgeous new vanity or debate between shower tiles, but there’s another element that sometimes becomes an afterthought – and that’s the bathroom windows.

The typical bathroom window is small, rather high up on the wall so no one can look in and see what’s happening in the bathroom, and might feel more decorative than functional. The window might even be covered full-time by shades or blinds, depending upon where you live – for instance, living in the city might mean keeping the window covered for privacy, leaving you with a small bit of light shining through. No wonder such a serious design element in the bathroom can become an afterthought!

But properly chosen bathroom windows can turn your space from a ho-hum room to a place that pops with energy and light. Let’s look at the most popular bathroom windows today.

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Window Frames

It all starts out with the frame that glass sits in. There are all sorts of materials used to make frames, from metal to vinyl to fiberglass to wood. Keep in mind that your bathroom is likely a very humid place, which means bathroom windows must have a frame that can stand up to the moisture in the air.

In some cases, the framing of your windows will depend on what’s already there, especially if you plan to keep costs down and keep the same window shape and position in the room. On the other hand, many older frames were made of wood, which can absorb moisture, swell up, and begin to rot on the inside. If a frame is falling apart like this, replacement – not repair – is the likely answer.

Given the uniquely humid atmosphere of a bathroom, vinyl and fiberglass might be the best choices for window frames. Modernize has a strong rundown of the different types of window frames, which can help you in your ultimate search for the right option.

Window Styles

Though there might be some limitations on the window styles you can choose for your bathroom, you might be surprised by how many options will work. It’s a matter of getting creative with the space and determining what works best for your particular room, home, and even outdoor environment. Here are a few to consider:

  •       Skylights. This option provides the ultimate in privacy, as someone would have to climb onto your roof to look down into the room and see what you’re doing! On the other hand, skylights can be rather expensive, at $60 to $100 per square foot. Tubular skylights, designed as tubes that bring in a burst of natural light into a room too small for traditional skylights, might be more affordable, installed for between $500 and $1,000.
  •       Textured glass. Don’t want to bother with curtains or shades? Textured glass provides privacy with its wavy design and allows plenty of light to flow through. These windows can often be opened just as a traditional window anywhere else in your house, thus giving you fresh air – a very nice option for that humid bathroom. The downside is that you don’t have much of a view. When it comes to this kind of privacy, you can also go with opaque, etched, or frosted panels. These windows are just like double-hung styles, which can go up to $800 or more for installation.
  •       Glass block. This works much like the textured glass, in that you get light coming through but lots of privacy, too. Glass block also allow for configurations that go beyond the typical 3X5 window size, in that the individual blocks can be used to create a variety of shapes. The downside is that these are set in place and don’t allow the window to be opened. Blocks can run between $18 and $25 per piece, depending upon your choice of clear, frosted, textured, and the like. 
  •       Transom. These are much like skylights, though instead of being on the ceiling, they are on the upper walls, where light can come in freely but privacy is ensured. These long, thin windows are great for small spaces, such as above a shower, where there isn’t room for a traditional window and the space would go to waste otherwise. Expect these windows to set you back between $200 and $575 per window, depending upon the style chosen.
  •       Hopper. Want some fresh air in the bathroom? The hopper window is perfect for bathrooms where high humidity is an issue. These are usually installed high on the wall and open from the top, allowing all that rising humid air to flow out and fresh air to come in. They provide a good view of the outside and depending upon how high up they are placed, you can have privacy too. As with many other windows, the price range can be pretty wide, ranging from $260 to $720 per window.

Don’t hesitate to be flexible! If you’ve got room for a transom and a hopper, go for it. Mix up your windows in the bathroom to bring in as much natural light as you want.

Staying Energy Efficient

Your bathroom windows might be smaller than those in the rest of the house, but they still matter when it comes to energy efficiency. When going with hopper, textured glass, or even skylights, go for double-pane if available, which maximizes the comfort level of the room. A low-E coating, also known as low emissivity, is a coating that helps to keep cool air in during the summer and cold air out during the winter, thus saving on your energy bills. Yes, it might cost a bit more up-front to go with energy-efficient features, but your utility bills will thank you over the years.

Finding the Right Contractor for the Job

When looking for the best contractor to handle your bathroom windows, go for someone with a great reputation. Look for a contractor who has done many window installs, can help you choose which manufacturer offers the best windows for your needs, and helps you understand the warranties that come along with each. Modernize is great at connecting homeowners with contractors who can meet their needs, and perhaps even offer suggestions for your bathroom windows that hadn’t crossed your mind.