Architecture and fashions change over the years, and windows haven’t escaped this evolution. The first glass windows are believed to date back to Alexandria, Egypt around 100 AD. While these windows were thick and small, the concept and functionality of windows hasn’t changed all that much in two thousand years. That said, fashions certainly come and and go and each period has brought about its own distinctive style both in terms of looks and materials. As windows are a focal point of a house – its “eyes” as it were – windows are an important part of a building’s architectural style.
One window style that continues to be popular years after its initial conception is the casement window. These windows still carry some of the characteristic design features of the originals. So, when did casement windows first appear and what are they?
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The history of casement windows
The first casement windows appeared during Georgian times towards the end of the 18th century. These began replacing stone mullions and were first handcrafted out of iron by blacksmiths. At this time, glass manufacturing wasn’t what it is now. It was really difficult to make large glass sheets and so panes in casement windows were small. This meant that the windows would typically have six panes of glass with lead strips keeping them together.
Over time, wood began to replace the iron frames. At the dawn of Victorian times during the middle of the 19th century, there were no longer iron casement frames being made. The preferred wood used was oak. Oak was also used instead of lead to hold the glass panes together. Theses had rabbets – a stepped recess made that made inserted glass easier. The panes were then kept in place by sprigs – headless nails – and putty.
As previously mentioned, it was common for casement windows to have six panes, but there were different variations and casement windows developed in style over the years as window-making and glazing techniques developed.
With the rise in popularity of Gothic architecture during the Victorian era, casement windows began to take on some elements. These included formed window tops and more glass panes of varying shapes.
Evolution of glass manufacturing led to changes
With development in glass manufacturing, it became possible to produce larger panes of glass. This meant that casement windows began to have two panes with a single glazing bar positioned horizontally.
Oak continued to be the most popular material until the dawn of the 20th century when softwood became more popular. With softwood, there were many advantages. These included thinner window frames, which were more aesthetically appealing. However, with hardwoods like oak, you didn’t need to paint the frames, which was a change. Most people painted their windows white but you could find coloured casement frames that were black, red, light blue and green, for example.
The introduction of sash windows – changes afoot?
Until the end of the 1800s, casement windows were the only window type available. As glass production techniques continued to improve, people could have larger glass panes and sash windows were born. However, since casement windows were still aesthetically pleasing and had a rich history, they didn’t stay away for long, and still remain a popular style of window nowadays!
What is a casement window like nowadays?
Even if you’re not familiar with the term “casement window,” it’s guaranteed that you will have seen them. These windows are versatile, functional and, importantly, secure.
Casement windows come in lots of different materials and can have curved (sculptured) of symmetrical (chamfered) frames. These windows are a great enhancement on heritage or traditional properties, but they look just as good on new builds. As windows go, these are really low-maintenance.
Typically, a casement window will have side hinges but they can also open at the bottom or top of the window frame. The former are hopper casement windows, while the latter are called awning casement windows usually open outwards but they can be manufactured to open inwards too.
Casement window parts
If you’re considering casement windows, you might be interested in knowing their different parts. Let’s take a look at these:
- Window Frame
The frame is responsible for holding the windows in position. The window frame head runs horizontally at the top of the window while the sill runs horizontally along the bottom. The side parts are called jambs and they run vertically on each side.
- Window Sill
As mentioned above, the window sill goes along the bottom of the frame. These are slanted to direct rainwater away from the window and building.
- The casement
We mentioned mullions above when we talked about stone windows. Mullions are vertical supporting strips. These are usually the same material as the window frame i.e., aluminium, timber or uPVC. Mullions divide separate units, for example, the opening window pane with a fixed pane.
If you have a transom casement window, you will have a horizontal supporting strip dividing separate units. Like the mullion, this will be the same material as the window frame. Transoms separate vent windows from fixed glass panes.
- Lock handles
Locks are found on the jamb. There are lots of colours and styles of handles and will depend on if you choose crank and turn opening or push out casement windows.
- Trickle vents
Many casement windows require trickle vents to be added. This is important when you need to prevent condensation and increase ventilation. Trickle vents are added to the top and are made up of an outside grill and inside closing vent.
- Georgian bars
These are fitted to the inside of the unit and are made up of both horizontal and vertical bars to make the glass seem divided into smaller squares, just like during the Georgian era of the 18th century.
- Astragal bars
These aren’t too dissimilar to Georgian bars but they are fitted to a single pane and are placed on top, externally and internally.
What are fixed casement windows?
Windows with a fixed casement are for decorative purposes. They can’t open like regular casement windows. Their purpose is simply to create great views and create an abundance of natural light in a room. They’re often a popular feature of bay windows, for example.
What are casement picture windows?
Casement picture windows are large fixed windows that are placed to show off an appealing view. Typically, they’re flanked either side with functioning casement windows to increase the natural light and add ventilation as the picture window doesn’t open.
Are casement windows better than other types of window?
This depends on your property type but they can be an excellent choice for both period and contemporary properties. In terms of window seal, most casement windows are much more airtight than sash windows. Sash windows need flexible seals to be able to open them while casements have an airtight seal and can retain heat much better, thus reducing energy bills.
Should you replace windows if you plan to sell your house?
The advantage of replacement windows means that your home will be more appealing for buyers. Having a secure home with energy efficient windows is appealing to prospective buyers. After all, the cost of buying a home is high and many buyers want to buy a home where they don’t have to start doing work after they’ve moved in.
If you do replace your windows, you can also add value to your property and increase its resale price by up to 10%. If you also pay attention to your home’s EPC (Energy Performance Rating), you’ll probably be able to boost value by up to 14% more with improvements to energy efficiency.
Advantages and disadvantages of a casement window
If you’re considering new windows, it’s important to make considerations of the pros and cons of casement windows. Many people want to keep costs low and so rule out a casement window. However, there are many advantages to casement windows that make them worth choosing.
Advantages of casement windows
- Improved ventilation
Compared to other window types, casement windows are the best in terms of ventilation. You can have a fully open window, allowing for maximum ventilation.
- Opening outwards
Since a casement window typically opens outward, they don’t get in the way inside your room.
- Energy efficient
A casement window is more energy efficient in comparison many styles of window, like window sash or sliding windows. They have an excellent seal when closed and stop draughts.
- Unobstructed view
Without mullions, casement windows give excellent views. Window opens outward.
Window locks and a top-of-the-range locking mechanism are standard features in casement windows. Modern casement windows, whether aluminium frames, uPVC frames, or timber frames, are very difficult to get into from outside so they make your home extra secure.
This type of window is really customisable in terms of window styles and functionality . You can have a range of materials, colours and designs. There are French casement windows (that can be style with French doors), awning windows, single frame casement windows, cross casement windows, and more!
Casement windows and doors are highly customizable and can be adapted to suit various styles. Moreover, they are available in a variety of finishes and an array of colours, designs, and frames, which means they can suit different types of homes. Furthermore, they are also available with a range of accessories such as chrome, vinyl or brass crank handles, surface grills, prairie grill, lead grills which help add another level of style and panache.
Disadvantages of casement windows
- Casement windows open fully and so you need to be mindful not to open these around children (or pets)
- Because of their weight (inclusive of their hardware), casement windows can’t be an unlimited size.
- Not suitable for use with air conditioning units – since casement windows open outward, you can’t use air conditioning units with them. Double hung windows or single hung windows are a better choice.
How much do casement windows cost?
It’s difficult to put an average price on casement windows because the cost depends on a lot of factors. These include:
- Material chosen
- style (one pane, hinged at the top, two hinged casements, horizontal bars, single mullion etc.)
- glazing (double or triple glazing)
- Hardware (hinges, mechanical parts, locking mechanism etc.)
Final thoughts on what is a casement window?
If you’re looking for new windows and think a casement window would be ideal, you’re probably right. Forget sliding windows that lack energy efficiency, a casement window, whether it’s a single frame casement window or a set of double casement windows or more, is an excellent addition to most properties.
There is a style and functionality for everyone. So, whether you fancy aluminium windows and aluminium frames, timber windows and French casements, or uPVC, there’s bound to be something for everyone. And, when you replace windows with a reputable company, you know they are bound by building regulations to do a great job and keep energy efficiency a priority.