What’s the Difference between European Windows and American Windows?


Believe it or not, similar to fashion, Europe has long set trends for residential windows in the United States. If you’re in the market for new or replacement windows and want the latest and greatest, you may want to take a look at what window dealers in Europe are currently installing.

So what are some of the differences between American and European windows?

Increased Energy Efficiency

It’s important to know that there is a purpose and reason behind why Europe is ahead of the window game and America plays catch-up. One main difference is energy cost and consumption. From fuel to electricity, energy is much more expensive in Europe than in America. And for that reason, European homeowners usually ensure their homes are as energy efficient as possible.

Turn-tilt vs. Double-hung Window

While double-hung windows are standard in the US, turn-tilt windows, which can be 10-30 times more air-tight, are standard in Europe. Instead of sliding upwards to open, these windows either swing inward or outward from its vertical hinge, or tilt inward or outward on its horizontal hinge. Tilt-turn windows are also able to accommodate large glass surfaces, which can create a much cleaner look due to less framing.

Tilt-turn Window
Tilt-turn window

 

Double-hung window
Double-hung window

Low-E vs. Triple-pane vs. Quadruple-pane Glass

Generally, the more panes of glass used, the better insulating properties a window will have. Double-pane windows are commonly found in American homes. These provide a single layer of climate and noise insulation between the outdoors and a home’s interior. Triple-pane windows offer two layers of insulation and quadruple-pane offers 3.

In addition to the number of layers, the chemical makeup of the glass itself can determine its energy efficiency. Low-E glass, which is glass with low levels of iron, helps reduce the amount of infrared heat absorbed from the sun and is often found in European windows. This means less heat inside your home on sunny days.

Double triple and quadruple windows insulated glazing isolated on white

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Consider the Long-term

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you probably know that most of their buildings are generally much older than those in the United States. Part of this is due to the fact that residential construction is mostly brick or stone, rather than stick-built.

European-house

In Europe, home buyers work closely with architects and builders during the construction process to choose the best options, and longevity is often a factor. Americans have a different approach in which the contractor makes most of the decisions, and decisions are often based on cost, rather than quality. Therefore, less emphasis is put on how windows will perform over the lifespan of a home. This could mean increased energy costs to homeowners.

Design Elements

Not only do European windows have an energy efficiency advantage over American windows, they look trendier too. The tilt-turn windows literally offer a clear advantage over double-hung windows due to less framing interrupting views of the outside. Not only that, but drab white and tan frames aren’t the only options anymore. European manufacturers are making window frames in an array of colors to match any home and homeowner’s style.

European Windows and Shutters

Even hardware can play a part in the look of contemporary windows. The handles and locks can be powder coated to match the framing or left as a bare metal such as polished stainless or brushed nickel. Even these small details can make a big visual impact.

Contemporary European Style Casement Windows

American Windows vs. European Windows

Which is Better?

Many buyers will still choose American window brands over European window brands. It is not necessarily that either one is better than the other. Both have their pros and cons. So when shopping for windows for your new home, or replacement windows for a renovation, it is important to consider certain elements. Think about your home’s aesthetics and style, how important energy savings is, and your budget.

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Style

If you’re going after a contemporary style- maybe large openings for extra light and an impactful look, or bold colors to add extra pop—these lean more towards European styling. If you like the traditional double-hung styling for a more colonial look, then you’ll probably lean towards American.

Energy Savings

Due to supply and demand, this isn’t a huge factor for Americans, who benefit from lower energy costs than Europeans. But cost savings should be looked at over the life of the loan, which can add up substantially.

Cost

In most cases, decisions about the factors above will come down to one thing. Cost. Options and features like color powder coated finishes and sleek hardware will increase costs. So will energy saving costs like low-E glass or triple glazing.

But while fun colors might not give you a return on your investment, the latter energy-saving options may. Calculations can be made to estimate energy savings costs over the effective lifetime of a window. From here you can determine the actual cost of the unit by subtracting the savings from the upfront cost. Given substantial enough savings, you may even reach a break-even point, or come out ahead. This can be especially true in cold climates where trapping in every degree of heat is crucial.

Can I Buy European Windows in America?

Just because a window is made by a European company doesn’t mean that it can’t be obtained in America. There are many European manufacturers who deal in the U.S. market with no shortage of options. As trends develop and demand grows, the options are sure to increase.

Where Can I Buy European Windows?

If you do in fact choose European windows for your next project, whether it be for styling or energy efficiency reasons, you can generally find these windows through window dealers the same way you would find American windows. There may even be some dealers in your area who stock both American and European brands. Visiting a dealer showroom is a great way to get an in-person hands-on look at the different options available.

Glaziers installing glass window indoors
Construction workers glaziers installing glass window indoors.

 

If you’re ready to take the next step in choosing windows for your home, use Glass.com’s window dealer locator to find a reputable dealer in your area. We’ll make sure you get in touch with a company who is able to service your needs quickly.

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13 responses to “What’s the Difference between European Windows and American Windows?”

  1. After having visited my daughter who is living in Germany 🇩🇪, I can say this article is “spot on”. Very helpful as I am definitely wanting this for our 184 yr old brick home.

  2. I would like some clarification on the double-hung versus tilt-turn windows. Why are the latter more efficient? Is there something in the construction or the installation that raises that?
    Also, this article omits casement windows, which is what I have in most of my house. Are they considered a variety of tilt-turn windows? How do they compare?
    I visited Germany, and I was a little concerned a few times when I saw a sizeable pane of glass tilting inward toward me, but I think I got used to it.

    • Hi Rau,

      Thanks for the comment! You bring up a good point about casement windows- this is another popular style. While they do provide the same “turn” feature as you get in a tilt-turn window, they are considered different because the lack the “tilt” feature. Casement windows are also often seen in the french style with two abutting windows, which is not as common with tilt-turn windows.

      As for energy efficiency, it is simply the design differences that allow turn-tilt windows to establish a tighter seal when closed, which increases the energy efficiency. The panels in a double hung window must have a loose enough seal that they can slide up and down. Gasketed seals are usually only found at the top and bottom edges of these windows. But looking a tilt-turn window, the singular panel allows for a tight seal all the way around the frame when in the closed position.

  3. hi. interesting .in usa i mostly have seen sash windpows encased and double hung windows..An d in especially warmer states like california they are almost impossible to open up .because ac equipment etc…usa has a totally different codes of standard in houses,Like the measures of doors and windows and dorknobs instead of handles in europe……in germany and sweden nordic countries scandinavi its common with double windows that you fling open from the middle right to gight and left to left and they are very big panes and often triple or 4 layered. why doesent usa adopt these standards too…..also in usa i see very little recycling of bottles and cans etc how much you reuse in usa… in sweden we reuse and filter everything from papoer to glass to electronics to plastic pater etc…but i know italy rome is far far behind with huge trash mountains in neaples and other cities. we must reuse and make a eco friendly sustainable society….but i like the us windows but they are not so efficient as european windows….is different standards uin usa, europe good or maybe we should all hace same standards for examole in kitchen doors etc house builings etc…john bevegård.

  4. Our windows were badly damaged because of the hail storm. It was explained here that European windows can increase energy efficiency. Furthermore, it’s recommended to hire professionals when considering having European windows.

  5. I appreciate the European design and can attest to the excellent sound proofing. As someone who likes fresh air, the tilt position is great. Most turn in, which takes some floor space – which American homes typically have more of.

    One issue to me, most European systems don’t have insect screens and while screens limit airflow a bit, I would consider them a necessity. Any comment on adding screens to a tilt-and-turn window?

  6. I have seen screens (in Sweden) which roll up tight and are on the inside of the window frame instead of the outside. So instead of the screens being always there, they are only pulled down as needed, and when not needed are rolled up tight in an enclosure so that they are hardly even noticeable.

    • What a cool concept! There are actually a number of companies who offer these in the USA as well. Our guess is that they aren’t as popular due to being cost prohibitive in comparison to traditional stationary fiberglass or aluminum screens.

  7. I’m not a fan of the look of a one-piece casement window; it’s just a hole in the wall filled in with a glass panel, looking sterile and depressing. Double hung or symmetrical casements in which the sashes open in opposite directions look a lot better to my eyes. I do appreciate the ability of casements to seal better better than sliding windows, but I wonder how useful it is in buildings without heat recovery ventilators, if people are going to just open them periodically to air out the rooms. I’ve even heard of UK windows with “trickle vents”, to make them leak like ours, to prevent condensation. And even with laxer American window standards, some local codes now require bathroom fans to run continuously, sucking air through any available leaks, to prevent indoor pollution. I’d like the quiet and insulation of triple pane windows, but as long as recovery ventilators are not standard, I don’t see the point of ultra-tight windows.

  8. I totally agree when you said that we should consider if the type of window is going to cut costs regarding energy bills. I will share this tip with my sister so that she can’t get the right windows that can save her in the long run. This will be perfect since they will be shelling out a lot of money since their house will be custom-built. Thanks!

  9. I am from Denmark.I love the european style of windows. We open them up inwards most of the time many or you flip them inwards at the top. We have more clean lines and not so many lines across the windows , that disturb the view looking out the window. I have seen many putting large furniture being put infront of the windows, which we would never do over here. Also how the windows are placed on the walls. Like in Canada, you have windows in the corners insted of placed on the wall where it looks symatric. Same distance between the windows making it look balanced and symatric. We decorate our home accordingly first and formost to where our windows are so we can look out and have a nice view. We do not build our homes so close to each other either that you can look in to your neighbors home. Monitoring what is going on in there sort of speak. haha. Anyways.We do not push up or push a side our windows. We also want our windows to open up.Get some fresh air in.

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