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Window Size


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By Marty in Boston, MA on 4/27/2007


I am looking for some input/opinion on window size. I am building a Colonial home and have decided to purchase Andersen 400 Series windows with Colonial grille patterns. My plans currently call for 3’x4’8” windows on the first floor and 3’x4’ windows on the second floor. After visiting several (new) open houses in my area I have noticed that many of the windows are a lot narrower (more like 2’6” wide). Does anyone have an opinion on window sizes? I don’t want my home to look odd when compared to the other homes in the area. What is everyone else doing?


Also, I noticed that many of the homes have windows on the first floor start at about 1’ from the floor.  In my opinion this seems a bit low. Can someone please offer some insight on this as well?

 

Thanks in advance for your help.
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By Richard in Coventry, CT on 4/28/2007


If you are doing a standard-type Colonial I think those windows are too short. In my opinion, I would go with TW210410 on the second floor and TW21056 or TW21052 on the first floor. I am confused - are these second-floor windows in bedrooms - because they probably do not meet egress requirements. Andersen size chart attached along with a Colonial with similar-size windows.

Hope This Helps!


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By Marty in Boston, MA on 4/28/2007


Richard,

 

Thank you for your helpful reply. According to your recommendation, it seems that you too are suggesting a 3’ wide window (I am rounding to the nearest inch). This makes me feel better about the width of the windows in my plans. Do you know how wide the windows are in the attached photos?

 

I will definitely consider going with taller windows, however, I may run into some trouble if I go with 5’ tall windows on the second floor. My home has an 8’ ceiling on the second floor. Considering that the window will start 32” from the floor and will end 12” from the ceiling, I should be able to fit 4’4” tall windows (TW21042). This isn’t taking the actual floor into consideration, however I will have some play from the ceiling (i.e. instead of 12” from the ceiling it will be closer to 10”).

 

From the many open houses I have visited, I have seen windows on the first floor start from as low as 12” from the floor. I would like to start at least 24” from the floor. The ceiling height on the first floor is 9 ft. This being the case, I should be able to fit 5’8” tall windows (TW21056). My only concern is that it will look odd when compared to the windows on the second floor. 

 

What is the standard when it comes to window height from the floor and ceiling? Also what is the standard width? Is there a formula I should be using?
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By Marty in Boston, MA on 6/5/2007


I hate to beat a dead horse; however, does anyone have any more information to add to this topic? I am getting close to making my final decision on the window size. Right now I am leaving the width at 3’. As for height, I am now leaning towards 5’ windows on the second floor and 5’4” windows on the first. Even 5’8” windows will fit on the first floor, however, I do not know how these windows will look when compared to the second floor. The widows will start approximately 20” from the floor - so I will have plenty of space. What have others who have built Colonials done? 

Your opinions/help are greatly appreciated.
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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 6/6/2007


Marty,

  Unfortunately, I don't have the information you're looking for.  I'm just starting the same process - selecting window sizes.  My plan is to go back through the stack of floorplan books I have, find some houses that are similar in style to my own, and see what size windows they use.

  As an alternative, you could probably figure it out from pictures of Colonials. Cut and paste a picture into Microsoft Paint or Photo Editor.  Use the "zoom" to enlarge the picture, and use a ruler to estimate the ratio of height to width. You know the height you want, and can use this ratio to find the width.

  For instance... from the pictures posted above, I estimate a height-to-width ratio of 2.09 for the first floor windows, and 1.78 for the second floor. For 3' wide windows, that would give you 5'4" windows upstairs and 6'3" windows downstairs. I'm sure you could tweak those sizes without the windows looking odd.

  One last thought, if you shop a decent window store, they should be able to make recommendations.

  Sorry I couldn't provide my specific advice.

Jon


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By Wendy in Onalaska, WI on 2/6/2008


I too wonder if anyone can give me some advice on second-floor window size. I'm almost certain that when I called the building inspector for our town a few months ago he said we didn't need to have egress-sized windows for the second-floor windows. However, we just turned our house plan over to be drawn up, and the designer said the smallest double-hung window we could have on the second floor was 37"x57" (and then commented that if we care about our children, of course we'll want this size window!). 

One concern I have is that, in order to match the top of the window with the top of the door, the sill will be only 23 inches off the floor. That doesn't seem safe to me, either.  Also, we really like the look of narrower windows, and were hoping to go with windows 29 inches wide or smaller. It looks like an egress window that is 29" wide must be 65" high, which would make it 15 inches off the floor. Can anyone give me thoughts on this?

I know I must eventually call our building inspector, but hearing from others that he gets a little crabby with people, I don't want to get on his bad side before getting more information! Another thought I had was to build a stairway from the garage into the upstairs bonus room. Would having two exits from the second story make egress-sized windows unnecessary?

Thanks so much!

Wendy


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By Richard in Coventry, CT on 2/6/2008


Egress windows are primarily so emergency personnel (firemen, paramedics, etc.) can get in and out of the window with their gear on.

15 inches from floor is too low in my opinion and will most likely not pass your building code, and 29 inches wide is too narrow in my opinion also.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 2/6/2008


Wendy,

  As I understand the code, you need two exits from each bedroom, so a stairway to the second floor would not satisfy code. 

  Also, keep in mind that the dimensions of the egress windows are not only to ensure residents an escape route, but also to allow a firefighter with a backpack to enter.

  In our county, they recently changed the code for windows. Now, only the movable portion of the window counts toward the minimum 5.7 sq.ft. opening. That may be why your designer is spec'ing such a large window. (Doesn't make much sense to me, because an adult could remove the glass, a child needs less area to crawl through, and a firefighter will just break the entire window with an axe. But, that's what the code says.) If you want a smaller window, you may be able to get one by using casements. You could probably get grills for them that would make them match the DH windows on the first floor.


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