Tom Shafer

Turning the image of replacement windows on its side

August 14, 2012

Replacement windows come in all styles, but the most common residential windows, double hung, generally are the first that come to mind -- and the ones you'll most often see advertised and demonstrated by dealers.

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If you aren't afraid to think outside the box -- and want to turn things on their side for real -- consider sliders.

Sliding replacement windows: double hung turned 90°

A sliding window is essentially a double-hung window configured horizontally. These are the similarities and differences:

  • Operation: In place of balances, adjustable wheels in a carriage on the bottom of the operating sash assist with opening and closing the window. If the window has nylon pads in the track instead of wheels, it's a glider, rather than a slider.
  • Water drainage: The sloped window sills that carry water away from double-hung windows are non-existent on sliders because of the track in which the sliders open and close. The sill is actually two pieces with a void in between. Water collects in the void and drains out and away from the window by means of weep holes.
  • Hardware: The locks are cam action, similar to those used on double-hung windows.

Why choose sliders?

You can purchase sliders in all types of materials: wood, vinyl, aluminum and fiberglass. In regions like the upper Midwest where casement windows are common, sliders are a popular replacement window because they tend to be less expensive than casements. They are also easier to open than double-hung windows in hard-to-reach places, such as over a kitchen sink.

Picture window flanked by double hung windows  Sliding replacement window

Replacing a picture window and two double-hung windows with one slider can be cost effective

Prices for a 3-by-4 slider versus a double-hung window vary, of course, so cost comparisons are not always apples to apples. However, a slider as a replacement for a picture window flanked by two double-hung windows provides the best replacement value: a slider is typically about half the cost of the triple-window unit. Window material also influences costs: clad-wood sliders are more costly than clad-wood, double-hung windows by a 7- to 10-percent margin. Vinyl sliders tend to be 7 to 10 percent less than wood sliders.

Distinctive appearance and smooth operation, as well as cost considerations, make sliding or gliding replacement windows a viable option. Don't overlook them when choosing replacement windows for your home.

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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