Tom Shafer

A different angle on window shapes

January 06, 2012

Windows come in plenty of shapes besides rectangles. It is actually very common to see special window shapes including half and quarter round, trapezoids, or even circles. Special window shapes can be as simple as those, or extremely complex like the custom shapes designed by Marvin Windows and Doors.

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Colonial homes often featured large double hung windows topped by half windows. This look became more elegant when designs were created using the muntins, such as star bursts or concentric half circles.

Half circles above hung windows are still common today. If you have wood windows in shapes such as a half-round, ask for a replacement window to fit that opening. Many companies make special sizes like radius half-rounds. Remember the height of a half-round is half of the width.

A Palladian window -- typically a large arched window flanked by two smaller windows -- may also extend the arch over the side windows as well. This look is popular for two-story entrances. The arched look is achieved with the use of half-round or quarter-round windows above the rectangular ones.

Palladian windows can make use of ellipses or "eyebrows" to create the arched top. Ellipses are a portion of a circle -- other than a half or quarter -- with a flat bottom. Eyebrows have a flat bottom and a curved top that resembles the shape of a human eyebrow.

In France, it's not uncommon to see casement windows featuring a sash that is curved on top. With minimal carpentry work these French-style casements could be used to replace your vertical, rectangular casements. Peachtree also makes French doors topped by curved or half-round transoms.

Beyond rectangles and circles

Octagon-shaped windows are often put in gables, baths and even kitchens. Century Window makes octagons that can include decorative glass with many different designs. Century also makes ovals and circles for placement in the same areas. Octagons can open for ventilation, but circles and especially ovals are difficult to make operable because of problems tightly sealing out water and air.

Trapezoids, or trapezoids paired with picture windows to give a total wall of windows, are another shape used in gables. Topping the gable on these walls of windows is often a pentagon-shaped window made with 90 degree angles on the sill. Lower on the wall, right-angle triangles might fill in the rest of the space.

By adding some different window shapes, you can dramatically alter the look of an ordinary home, or just replace a couple of ho-hum windows. If you're a round peg, you don't have to settle for a square hole in the wall.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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