You probably don't think about it much, but you ask a lot of your bathroom windows. Like other home windows, bathroom windows provide natural light and ventilation, but they have the added job of protecting your privacy. The right window is one that can do it all and do it in a difficult environment where humidity runs high.
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Bathroom Window Efficiency
You want all of the windows in your home to be energy efficient, of course, but this trait becomes even more crucial when it comes to your bathroom window. Comfort is a big reason. You don't want cold air leaking through your widow and creating a draft when you're wet. To avoid this problem, look at the label on windows and choose one with a low number in the air leakage rating box.
You'll also want to pay close attention to the window's condensation resistance. Sandwiched between your steamy shower and winter weather, bathroom windows are more prone to condensation than windows in other rooms. This condensation can occur inside the glass, making it impossible to simply wipe it away.
According to Efficient Windows Collaborative, condensation resistance is rated on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the number, the more resistant the window.
The Best Windows for Ventilation
Any window that opens will provide some fresh air and ventilation, but it may not be enough. If your bathroom ventilation fan is weak or altogether absent, you'll want to think about buying casement or awning windows.
A casement window is one with hinges on the side. Usually opened with a crank, the entire glass windowpane swings open. This setup creates a larger window opening than a traditional single-hung window, making it better for ventilation.
The best windows for ventilation, however, are awning windows. Awning windows are hinged at the top. When open, the glass swings out and up, literally creating the awning from which it gets its name. Because the awning hangs over the window opening, you can open these windows even if it's raining or snowing. They also offer more privacy when open than other window styles.
Let There Be Natural Light
If you like a bright bathroom with a lot of natural light, you may find privacy glass a bit too dark for your taste. Solving this problem means looking up. Skylights let in tons of natural light without compromising your privacy. They're a little pricey, though. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of installing a skylight in 2020 is between $900 and $2,500.
When the budget doesn't allow for a traditional skylight, consider a tubular skylight. In this case, tubular does not refer to '80s slang but instead a literal tube. Measuring about 10 to 14 inches in diameter, the tube gathers sunlight from your roof and then reflects it down the tube and into your bathroom. These cost only $500 to $1,000.
Another alternative is to install transom or clerestory windows just beneath your bathroom ceiling. Long and narrow, transom windows sit well above eye level to protect your privacy while letting in natural light. They're also budget friendly at a price between $200 and $600 installed. If you prefer, you can get a similar effect with small porthole windows if you install them above eye level. Transom windows don't usually open, however, so don't go this route if you're hoping for added ventilation.
Bathroom Window Options: Privacy Glass
Some homeowners express concern about having a radically different bathroom window that doesn't match the rest of the house. If you want your bathroom window to look like the other replacement windows you've installed, match the frames on your windows but opt for privacy glass. You can put privacy glass or film on any window, so it doesn't matter what type of window you choose.
The least expensive way to achieve privacy glass is to purchase self-adhesive privacy panels at your local hardware store. These translucent window film sheets stick to your window and make it impossible to get a look inside the bathroom. You can also choose a heavily textured glass pane that will accomplish the same thing. If you change your mind later, however, you can't simply remove a pane of glass like you can a self-adhesive privacy panel.
If you like, you can go beyond basic privacy glass and add a little style to your window. Privacy glass panes and film sheets are available in a wide array of styles and designs, allowing you to go beyond bland. You can also opt for a stained glass window, creating a beautiful focal point in your bathroom and adding privacy at the same time.
Glass Block Windows
Rather than going with a textured glass windowpane, you might want to think about glass block windows. Made of glass or acrylic, these blocks cost between $5 and $15 each. You can purchase a window made of these blocks, or you can get creative. If you go with a standard pre-made window, expect installation to cost between $350 and $600.
If you have a creative streak and some wiggle room in your budget, however, you could install these blocks from floor to ceiling on one wall or add a custom window in any size. Like transoms, glass block windows typically don't open. You can use them creatively to place a window anywhere you want, though, without fear of accidentally flashing the neighbors.
Bathroom Window Tips
You have a lot of options when selecting bathroom windows, but don't overlook the tried and true. A simple double- or single-hung window will do the trick, as will slider windows that slide open from left to right rather than going up and down. If you go this route, you'll simply need to find a window treatment to provide privacy when you need it. This could be something as simple as a Venetian blind.
When trying to get natural light into a small bathroom, don't try fitting in more windows than the space will reasonably allow. Instead, install a window next to your wall mirror so the light from the window reflects into the space. A well-placed mirror will make one window look like two and will make the room brighter.
- Efficent Windows Collaborative: Measuring Performance: Condensation Resistance (CR)
- HomeAdvisor: How Much Does It Cost To Install A Skylight?
- Innovate Building Solutions: 7 Creative High Privacy Bathroom Window Ideas (So You Won’t be Putting on a Show for the Neighbors)
- Ecoline Windows: Choosing The Right Bathroom Window Option
- Modernize: Best Bathroom Window Options
- Energy.gov: Energy Performance Ratings for Windows, Doors, and Skylights