Lots of our clients ask us about glazing and how to make the right choices. Whether you are working with an architect to build a new build house, convert your loft, add space with a single or two storey extension or create a sunroom/orangery; window choices can often make or break an architectural design.
Windows are also a big part of your build budget, so we understand that getting it right is vital! Large windows often take centre stage in the facades of modern design, which means that energy efficiency and thermal performance needs serious consideration. Research is key. Acre Design are Newcastle’s leading architectural designers and we are here to help!
We don’t have to look far from our front doors to find some exceptional examples of stunning, efficient and innovative glazing solutions:
The Sill, National Landscape Discovery Centre in Hexham, Northumberland is a purpose build visitor centre which promotes the local landscapes. The glazing meets the highest standards of sustainability (a focus of the project) whilst standing strong against the unpredictable and harsh elements in the area. With The Sage (Gateshead), The Baltic, Newcastle City Library and The Centre for Life (Newcastle) also leading the way with innovative glazing solutions, we really are spoilt for inspiration here, in Newcastle.
Which is the right window style for your home?
Room layouts and the shape of your house itself will greatly inform the positioning and size of windows, unless you are designing a self-build home of course. Whether you are building a new build, extension or loft conversion, we always consider the style of the property when presenting glazing solutions. For example, an old cottage would not suit extra large glazing forced into thick stone walls. However, a contemporary, single-storey home would be improved by this style of window. This is where the classical architecture idea of the golden ratio is a helpful tool. The ratio proportions should be 1:1:618, meaning a vertical sash window, for example, should be 1300mm tall if it is 800mm wide.
What are the different window styles?
Fixed windows do not open or let in ventilation, their function is to let in natural light and maximise views from your property. Without the need for an opening mechanism, these windows come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and you can get really creative with them. We love to use these in stairways in particular, providing light and decoration in an otherwise often wasted space.
Another option, useful for kitchen design and extensions, if the fixed and operable splashback window. Much like the glass or tiles you can fix behind a surface such as a sink or cooker, you can also have splashbacks that double as a window. They come in two forms: fixed or operable. These showcase your views, invite natural light in and provide extra ventilation (if operable of course). These are perfect for dimly lit kitchen spaces and they are practical, stylish and modern.
Now, if you love bringing the outside in to your garden but do not have the floorspace for bifold doors, bifold windows could be a viable and satisfying option. Allowing you to open the window entirely, they are refreshing, modern and very stylish.
Rooflights or skylights bring so much natural light to a new space where a conventional window just wouldn’t fit. There are so many options to choose from here, depending on your taste and the style of your property. Flat glass rooflights are modern and minimalistic, with a low-profile flat glass plane. They are unobtrusive but provide a great deal of natural light. Polycarbonate domes also provide a lot of natural light and are a great low-cost solution. We’ve used roof lanterns and pyramids in many of our orangeries and extensions – they are large and beautifully decorative, creating a contemporary and open feel to your space. Sliding rooflights are a nice ventilation option. If you’re considering incorporating a balcony above, walk-on rooflights are completely safe to walk on. This means that you can utilise the roof space of your new extension with a balcony above. For awkwardly shaped spaces, we love suntubes – they let in an incredible amount of light and are becoming very popular here, in Newcastle.
Sash windows are often a beautiful, traditional addition to a new build home and are an essential factor if you are renovating a Georgian or Victorian home – a popular housing style in Newcastle Upon Tyne. They come in non-standard sizes and are often bespoke for each project. We love the feeling of lifting a sash window to feel fresh air rush into a room.
Another traditional British option, also very common in Newcastle, are open-out casements, which come in a range of forms. Large casements are often the cheapest and these are usually standard sizing so a lot cheaper to source and fit. These are great for ventilation, opening really wide. However, if you have a young family or animals in your home, you need to think about safety catches for this reason.
If you love the Continental style, tilt and turn windows might be for you! This style of window opens inwards and provides a tilt option for secure ventilation. Often, these windows suit a more modern design and they are great for a smaller room.
How about triple glazing?
Triple glazed windows are the new standard in today’s windows. They are great for noise reduction and energy efficiency. Some suppliers can even offer special coatings to allow solar gain when required – utilising the sun’s heat when it is wanted in the winter but minimising overheating in the summer. We have found this is near-essential on elevations receiving a lot of direct sunlight, but you may not need to spend the money here on elevations where sunlight is rarely directed.
Traditional style homes
Choosing appropriate materials is vital if you’re building a period style self-build home or renovating your older style home. Timber window casements and sash windows are the usual choices for these styles. PVCu is a great choice but replicating a traditional wood grain finish is pretty tricky. It can be quite the challenge to find the perfect period style windows, so we recommend starting your research as soon as possible. Acre Design can help with this.
The size of windows we use has grown rapidly over time as glazing methods evolved and larger panes became affordable. A minimal amount of frame is very desirable in contemporary builds, with aluminium frames rising in popularity. We often find, the more modern the house or extension, the bigger and cleaner the glazing should be.
Which material should I choose?
Alloy, metal or fibreglass windows are really popular in contemporary-style houses, though they are not as thermally efficient as wood. GRP (fibreglass) can create a strong load-bearing frame, which is great when you are renovating or extending, and these come in a huge range of colours! This style is really low maintenance and allows for a very small frame around the glazing if this is desired. Though this is an expensive option, the aesthetic rewards are huge.
PVCu or plastic windows are a quick and easy option, whilst being low-maintenance and cost efficient!
A main advantage of timber windows is the authentic feel offered to period style homes. You just can’t replicate the feel of timber windows. They may require a little more maintenance and will be more expensive than other options however, so it is a decision worth taking some time over.
Using composite windows is a great compromise solution if you are undecided. This style mixes framing materials, usually weather-proof capping (aluminium or plastic) over a timber frame. These are great for longevity and withstanding harsher weather and are a low maintenance option which also provides the insulation pros of timber. These can be a pricey choice, so again, a great deal of thought and research is recommended.
We hope that you find this information helpful, at Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things glazing and would love to discuss your project with you in detail.