Fenestration Focus May/June 2019

July 15th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Walls or Windows? Five Ways to Win the Debate

By Carrie Scheetz

One of the most defining features of modern-style homes includes the extensive use of glass. With that glass, however, comes a long-standing debate that pits walls against windows.

Windows provide natural light, views and enhance the overall beauty of a home. Walls that are properly insulated are inherently (and significantly) more efficient. But trends and advanced window technologies are proving that, overall, windows can have an edge.

Here are five ways to help your products win the debate:

1 Unobstructed views and minimalism are en vogue.

The decluttering lifestyle has taken off in recent years. As a result, people are cleaning up in droves and opting for simpler lifestyles—all of which is impacting design trends.

What do windows have to do with it? Clean, open spaces with mixed and natural (or at least natural looking) materials are among the most sought-after designs, and by blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living spaces, glass has a role to play in that motif. For this reason, it isn’t surprising that windows and patio doors are growing larger and more integral to designs.

2 People like personalized space.

These days, homeowners are less likely to walk into a showroom and say, “I want exactly that.” Rather, there’s a movement toward personalizing spaces. And therein lies an opportunity for windows.

Window shapes, sizes and placement provide excellent opportunities to create unique spaces. Interesting glass corners, or full window walls—they add the sort of character that one could never achieve through traditional walls.

3 Windows can help to save energy by day.

The more natural light you let in, the less dependent you are on artificial lighting. But to get the most out of daylighting efforts, consumers must pay attention to the direction that windows face. For quick reference, the U.S. Department of Energy provides specific guidelines. For instance:

• South-facing windows allow most winter sunlight into the home, but little direct sun during the summer, especially when properly shaded.
• North-facing windows admit relatively even, natural light, producing little glare and almost no unwanted summer heat-gain.

By following a few simple principals, there’s plenty of energy to be saved.

4 Natural light makes us feel good.

Natural light regulates our sleep habits, makes us more alert and gives us crucial vitamin D. At the same time, Environmental Protection Agency statistics indicate that we spend up to 90% of our time inside. That’s yet another reason for us to go with windows over walls.

5 Windows have come a long (long) way.

We wouldn’t stand a chance in this debate if it weren’t for the work that has been done by our industry. Advanced technologies, such as insulated framing materials, warm-edge spacers, low-E coatings and gas filling have changed the conversation about glass entirely.

Sure, walls might have some energy-efficiency benefits, but not as many as they used to.

Carrie Scheetz is marketing project manager for Quanex Building Products.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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