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Picture Window Price Guide

A picture window is a large, fixed window without opening mechanisms or glazing bars. The point of this type of window is to provide an unobstructed view to the outside. Picture windows offer many practical options for homeowners. "Low-e" glass ensures energy efficiency. Other choices include high and low solar-gain glazing to control the amount of heat the window holds in. A variety of interior and exterior colors and trim designs allows homeowners to seamlessly match new windows to their home's style. Vinyl is the most common and sturdy choice but many types of wood are also available.

The Costs

  • $4 to $6 per inch

Picture Window Advantages and Disadvantages

Picture windows can be incorporated into new home constructions or used to replace existing windows. When considering this design element, homeowners should realize that the main purpose of installing picture windows is to create a "room with a view." These windows function to frame a section of the outdoor area the same way a picture frame accents a piece of art. Thus, they are best used in areas with picturesque landscaping, beachfront views or bordering woodlands.

Using large expanses of glass as design elements has several benefits:

  • Increases natural light, cutting down on electricity use

  • Makes the room feel more open and inviting

  • Offers a beautiful view of a favorite part of a home's natural surroundings

  • Allows more heat to come in and stay in, contributing to fuel efficiency in colder months 

Plus, with no moving parts, picture windows won't suffer mechanical failure that requires replacement or repairs. On the other hand, because these types of windows are fixed, they can't be used to ventilate a room. This can be a problem if the heat-holding properties of the windows make the room too warm in the summer. 

The same open view that allows homeowners to look out of a picture window can also allow others to look in. Correcting this requires a good set of curtains or blinds that can be drawn when privacy is desired. Windows will also need regular cleaning to ensure a clear view when the curtains are open.

In climates prone to wind storms and other weather that may result in flying debris, picture windows will be susceptible to breakage. This kind of damage can range from inconvenient and expensive to dangerous or even life-threatening, depending on the circumstances. Homeowners need to be aware of the practicality of choosing picture windows in their particular location.

Installation Overview: Method and Materials

Installing a picture window requires at least two people to avoid mishaps that could lead to injury. Window panes are heavy and can be prone to breakage, so proper precautions should be taken. It's a good idea for everyone working on the job to wear protective goggles and gloves.

To start, the window must be fitted to the opening. This is easier if windows are being installed as a home is built, but most homeowners will likely be looking to replace existing windows. In this case, window openings may need to be cut and resized to accommodate new panes of glass.

The next step is to install metal flashing or flashing tape around the opening to keep moisture out and prevent any potential leakage around the window after it's in place. The window should then be fitted into the opening and checked with a level to ensure that everything sits the way it should. Holding the window in place temporarily with nails or screws will keep it from shifting while installation is completed. Shims can be used at this point to correct any problems with placement.

Once the window is level, the shims can be secured and permanent screws or nails installed. Any remaining gaps should be filled with fiberglass insulation before interior and exterior trim are put in place. Exterior caulking provides added insurance against drafts and unwanted air currents.

Homeowners looking to achieve a specific look may wish to consider working with a professional contractor or installation expert. Mistakes in window placement can detract from the appearance of a home while insufficient insulation or caulking will decrease a window's energy efficiency. Professionals get the job done right the first time and can work with a homeowner's design vision to create a more beautiful home.

Other Costs

Materials and accessories necessary for installation can add the following costs to a picture window:

  • Gloves - $2 to $135

  • Goggles - $3 to $30

  • Level - $1 to $500 depending on features

  • Flashing or flashing tape - $7 to $19 including kit options

  • Shims - $2 to $4 per bundle depending on materials

  • Fiberglass insulation - $5 to $90 for varying sizes and amounts

  • Caulking - $2 to $25 for single tubes or multi-packs

  • Trim - $19 to $57 with style and material choices available

Picture Window Designs

Homeowners can take advantage of the bright, open look that picture windows provide to create a variety of home designs. All it takes is one or two decorative panes to transform stuffy, cramped rooms into beautiful spaces that are a joy to spend time in. Floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding or incorporating doors to the outside create a more expansive feeling like that of an enclosed porch.

Installing picture windows all the way around the walls of a rounded room results in a continual panorama of the outdoors that is best utilized in areas with a view of beaches, oceans or lakes. Not only does this style allow families to enjoy a natural expanse that many only dream of, it also creates an open look that improves the appearance of the home's exterior.

Including picture windows in home design brings depth and beauty that makes any room more comfortable. Homeowners who choose to include picture windows will enjoy a full view of the outdoors, better lighting and an energy-efficient window style that aids in keeping the temperature of the house consistent. By combining attractive design with practical features, picture windows improve both the look and value of the home.

Last updated on Apr 22, 2014

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