PICTURE WINDOW | An Architect Explains

Picture windows are fixed windows, which means they can’t be opened or closed. These large expanses of glass have one use — to frame a beautiful view similar to a bay window. Picture windows are often found in homes with high or vaulted ceilings, offices, courthouses, and in Christian churches as stained or tempered glass that help to minimize the glare from the sun.

picture windows frame a view
Picture windows frame a special view

Although they are not the most popular choice, some manufacturers make combination picture windows that allow both light and air in. Common combination styles include casement and picture, double-hung sash and picture and sliding and picture.

Picture windows have both advantages and disadvantages which make them suitable only in some places. As an Architect, I have described Picture windows under the following headings so that you can decide whether it is suited for your requirement and your space:

Where are Picture windows best suited?
What are the advantages of Picture windows?
What are the disadvantages of Picture windows?



Picture windows may be square, rectangular, oval, or any other shape. They may be placed to allow the maximum amount of natural light into the space, or serve as a means of making a smaller workplace seem larger by using oversized windows that offer an impressive view of the outside. Strategically placed picture windows improve the energy absorption.

Picture windows allow maximum light
Picture windows allow maximum amount of light or offer an impressive view of the outside



Costs: Picture windows are fixed, so there are no mechanical parts to break. This eliminates the costs associated with purchasing replacement moving parts. 

Natural light: Picture windows allow lots of natural light in.

Frame a view: Picture windows frame a beautiful view just like  a picture.

Brighten: A small one can brighten up a stairwell, while a large one showcases an amazing vista.

Heat gain: During the winter months, the heat from the sun helps warm the room and reduces heating costs.

No drafts: Picture windows are completely airtight. Because there are no mechanisms to open and close, there is less chance of small cracks developing that let in air from the outside.

Cleaning: cleaning fixed windows is often considered easier, since there are no sashes or other components that need to be moved during the cleaning process.

picture windows offer no ventilation
Picture windows are generally fixed and do not offer natural ventilation



Heat gain: This can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the way the windows are manufactured. If they don’t contain coatings to reduce solar heat gain, the room may feel hot and stuffy because there is no exit for the hot air.

No ventilation: Operable picture windows are an option, but most homes have inoperable ones. Because they don’t open and close, picture windows don’t offer any natural ventilation.

Picture windows bring the outside in.
Picture windows frame the view and bring the outdoors inside.

Cleaning: The exterior of the window can be cleaned only from the outside.

Picture windows are fixed windows just like Skylight and Transom windows.

For more information on other types of Windows, go to:

For a concise Vastu guide on doors and windows, please refer to my blog on House construction in India

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