Surely each of us would like to have a lot of light and space in his apartment or country house. Floor-to-ceiling French windows with panoramic views will visually expand the space and allow maximum sunlight into the room. It is worth carefully weighing the pros and cons, deciding on such panoramic glazing, since it is ideal for country houses, and in city apartments it can have many nuances.
The warm climate of the south of France contributed to the appearance of large panoramic windows with sashes resembling doors. From the end of the 17th century, such windows began to be installed in houses with access to a patio or a private garden, from where a picturesque view of the mountains and river valleys opened. In our country, an unusual glazing system began to gain popularity since the middle of the last century.
French windows differ from ordinary ones in their size and height from floor to ceiling. In fact, such windows are used for both windows and doors, since they occupy 2/3 of the wall area. In apartments, such windows are installed in houses with a loggia, and in private houses they serve as an exit to a terrace , to a winter garden or just to a courtyard.
As with any design, French windows have their pros and cons.
Among the advantages, we note:
- the maximum amount of light they can transmit;
- saving on lighting fixtures;
- the ability to visually expand the space;
- functionality, since the design combines a window and a door;
- aesthetically pleasing appearance;
- a beautiful panoramic view from the window (this is especially true for country houses with a landscaped courtyard).
Before you decide to install French windows, it is worth remembering their shortcomings:
- additional window insulation will be required (if you live in a cold climate);
- to ensure complete safety for family members (especially children), you will need to install impact-resistant glasses, which are not cheap;
- a costly option - improved glass with sputters to reflect infrared rays;
- panoramic windows require constant care and cleaning, and if they are installed on a high floor, cleaning them on both sides is a problem;
- make sure you don't have a phobia of open space before installing windows;
- the need to condition the air in summer, as ordinary double-glazed windows let the sun's rays through;
- difficulties with installation in an apartment building (you will have to redevelop and use load-bearing walls);
- psychological discomfort from constant being "in sight".
There are many types of French windows, depending on the material of the profile, glazing, type of construction. Profiles are made from different materials.
The aluminum profile is lightweight and at the same time durable - this is its main advantage when it comes to such heavyweight windows as French ones. Insulated aluminum profiles are most popular because they are durable and not so expensive. Its assembly is made of aluminum parts and glass fiber reinforced polyamide. It is he who provides the structure with good heat and sound insulation.
As a rule, aluminum frames are used for glazing a cold balcony. Although recently, thanks to the use of thermal break technology, warm aluminum windows began to appear on the market of finishing materials. In such a construction, a heat-insulating layer is placed between the outer and inner profiles.
The most environmentally friendly are structures with a wooden frame . In addition, such material looks impressive from an aesthetic point of view. Their only drawback is their high cost, and if you use elite types of ash, oak and beech wood, the cost will be even higher. Usually, our compatriots give preference to structures made of larch or pine.
For production, not an array of trees is used, but a glued beam, since it is more resistant to weathering and does not deform. Another plus of wooden windows is that they will provide ventilation even when closed, and a minus is the complexity of processing and maintenance.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) frames are affordable and durable, lasting at least 10 years, and with proper care, even longer. Such a finishing material is able to withstand temperature fluctuations from -60 to +80 degrees. And if you wish, you can style such a frame with wood-like film. Since plastic is easy to process, it can be used to make a frame of almost any configuration.
To reduce thermal conductivity, such a profile should be equipped with at least 3 chambers.
An innovation in the market of finishing materials is glass composite structures that do not require additional reinforcement and look beautiful. They are distinguished by low thermal conductivity, strength and low weight. The only drawback is the high cost.
Window designs are also solid and sectional:
- One-piece is distinguished by the absence of partitions in the frame. When buying, you should pay attention to the way of opening such windows. The hardware must be strong to support the weight of the large tempered glass. The most acceptable way to open a one-piece structure is sliding.
- Sectional structures divide the panoramic window into parts, which increases the reliability and strength of the window in the case of a large glazing area.
Frames with an impost (vertical lintel in the middle) are more durable than without it. The presence of such an element allows, if necessary, to open only one sash or put it in the ventilation mode.
Frames with a shtulp (without a lintel in the middle) allow the panoramic view to be as wide and open as possible. Unfortunately, such doors cannot be hinged, but only rotary. But shtulpovye windows are 100% consistent with the French style, which does not provide for any restrictive elements in the window construction.
In accordance with the window opening system, there are several types:
- Sliding type "accordion" , representing the construction of a "door-window" of one or more canvases. The door slides open, folding like an accordion and forming a wide passage. Such designs are appropriate in large rooms.
- Parallel-sliding windows are windows with sliding sashes running parallel to the frame on the sides. This is the most reliable and functional design. To keep the door open, latches or latches are used.
- A portal window is a system where several leaves are opened, performing the function of a door. Typically, such a structure is installed at the exit from the house or balcony block.
- French swing windows are essentially traditional glass doors. They are usually placed in narrow openings, while such a window can be opened both inward and outward, for which a classic handle is used as fittings.
By the type of glazing, double-glazed windows can be distinguished: single-chamber with two panes and two-chamber with three panes. The former can be placed in the southern climatic zone, and the latter in the northern climate.
Separately, there are several more types of double-glazed windows:
- Energy-saving , in which one of the glasses has a special coating of silver and titanium oxide, which does not transmit infrared radiation. They similarly reduce heat loss in winter and reduce the heating of the room by the sun's rays in summer. The maximum efficiency is possessed by a double-glazed unit with 3 panes. And single-chamber double-glazed windows are appropriate if you live in a sunny region.
- Soundproof , when glass of different thickness and different gaps are present in the glass unit , thereby reducing the noise level coming from the street.
- Light- shielding , when the glass transmits less light, which is important for rooms located on the south side, and does not allow the room to overheat.
And by the type of glass used, one can distinguish:
- heat-polished glass (float glass);
- triplex (consists of two parts with a film in the middle, resistant to stress, and if it accidentally breaks, there will be no sharp fragments);
- tempered glass;
- electrochromic glass (smart glass) is an expensive innovative technology that can be used to control the transparency of the glass with a remote control.
A wide selection of French-style window designs (from rectangular to arches), the use of various materials, textures and colors allow panoramic glazing to fit into any interior design - from classic to Hi-tech. So, rectangular windows are suitable for a modern style, and designs with an arch are ideal for baroque or empire styles.
French-style windows will decorate any room of a country house - living room, bedroom, dining room. There are many projects and options for using French windows in the interior. Such glazing will look especially impressive in studio apartments or city living rooms with a wide loggia. In the warm season, French windows can be opened or pushed apart, using the loggia more rationally.
Scope of application
Of course, the optimal scope of application of a French window will be its installation in a private house, where there will be direct access to the courtyard or garden. It is not uncommon for the owners of city apartments to think about such a project, but the installation options for them will be limited.
For city apartments, the option of installing panoramic windows is possible for owners of new buildings, where initially the architects provided for the possibility of such a design. And the owner independently decides whether to make the window French or reduce it to its usual size by laying part of the wall with aerated concrete. In addition, it will be necessary to clarify in advance whether construction is planned in front of a multi-storey building, which will spoil the panoramic view, and make the windows simply useless.
If the owner of an apartment in a high-rise building plans to install a panoramic window with access to a loggia or a small balcony, the load-bearing wall will have to be partially destroyed, which will require not only approval from the licensing authorities, but also the hiring of a professional architect to evaluate the project.
When installing a window on a balcony or loggia, please note that you can glaze no more than 10% of the total area. Needless to say, a French window in a Khrushchev building will look at least inappropriate.
French windows in a one-story private house are a real dream for designers and owners. If funds allow you, opt for just this type of glazing, opening the entrance to the terrace or garden. In country houses, such windows can occupy both one wall and a large area , giving residents a view of the surrounding landscape and becoming a link between man and nature.
It is permissible to organize such glazing in the kitchen , so that you can cook food for your household with pleasure and in a pleasant atmosphere.
Also, French-style windows can be used as interior doors, which will visually expand the space of the room and add airiness to it.
Since French windows are a fairly large-scale structure, the outflow of heat in winter will be greater than with conventional windows. Therefore, you need to take care of heating even before installing windows. If in the southern regions of Russia, where the winter is warm, you can use conventional heating, then in the middle lane, and even more so in the northern regions or Siberia, you will have to take care of the additional installation of a warm floor or equip an autonomous heating system.
Since such a solution requires a lot of financial costs, you can opt for glasses with a reflective infrared coating , which conserves heat in winter and does not let it in in summer. Unfortunately, such a coating will last only 7 years, after which it will have to be changed.
Considering the fact that the technology of warm glasses is improving from year to year, pay attention to the latter option.
Instead, you can also stick a sun-protection film on the windows yourself - this is done on a clean and dry glass unit removed from the frame.
Before gluing, the glass and the film are moistened with soapy water, which is driven from the center of the glass unit to the edges so that bubbles do not form on the glass surface when gluing.
Radiators are placed on the opposite wall of the room to avoid condensation on the windows.
Installation of floor convectors next to the window will cost you a lot, usually such heating systems are laid at the construction stage. The heated air will create a kind of heat curtain near the window, preventing the room from cooling. Caring for convectors is very simple, it is enough to clean it with a vacuum cleaner from time to time and wipe it with a damp cloth.
Warm skirting boards can be water or electric and are suitable for use in rooms with a large glazing area. The advantage of such heating elements is that they take up a minimum of usable space in the room.
Underfloor heating can also be water or electric, it can be installed both in private houses and in ordinary apartments.
Of course, panoramic windows are an interior decoration in themselves. However, they can be additionally decorated by toning, adding stained-glass windows, pleated blinds, roller blinds or a light but rather dense organza .
Keep in mind that even with tinted windows, you will still be in full view of everyone by turning on the lights, so curtains are a must. At the same time, it is better to refuse lambrequins, dark and heavy curtains.
The color scheme, texture and ornaments of textiles on the windows should correspond to the general style of the interior.
A classic interior can be created using roman blinds. An excellent option would be Japanese panels - shoji sliding screens . You can even make them yourself by decorating with ornaments or appliques.
A good solution for French windows is blinds and shutters , which provide complete protection from the sun. At the same time, the fabric roller shutter will preserve natural light in the room. And also on the south side, where the intensity of sunlight is especially high, you can use blackout sun shades.
When ordering French windows, pay attention to the fittings. The service life of the windows and ease of use will depend on its quality.
Products from Siegenia, Maco, Roto and Winkhaus have earned good reviews on the Internet . Remember that a cheapskate pays twice, and inexpensive hardware is made of short-lived metal. Such low-quality handles turn over time, and wear of the pressure rollers can lead to a loose window closing.
As you can conclude from reviews on the Internet, the popularity of French window designs sometimes pushes our citizens to the idea of installing them where the French themselves would never have thought of. It must be remembered that when installing such a window, their functionality and economic feasibility are important.
In a small city apartment with a balcony, such windows are unlikely to be appropriate. In addition, such a redevelopment is not always safe, because the windows are installed in the facade walls, which are load-bearing. Do not do the alteration yourself, especially the dismantling of walls in residential buildings without coordinating the project with the relevant structures.
You can learn about the pros and cons of the French balcony from the following video.
If you are building a private house from scratch, then it will be much easier for you to include French windows in the project. And at the stage of alteration, contact an architect who will take into account the features of the building and draw up a plan for installing panoramic windows. As a rule, for this purpose, powerful lintels or columns are used to support the ceiling of the second floor.
If you live on a high floor, anticipate a "psychological moment" in advance . For some people at a height, such a window can act as a "portal to the abyss" and become a phobia. French glazing is not very favorable at a height and where there are children. Firstly, it is unsafe, and secondly, get ready to see and clean the marks of children's hands several times a day.
Such an urgent problem of French windows, as condensation, can be solved by providing good supply and exhaust ventilation in the room.
If the frames are made of wood, they can get scratched. In this case, the surface can be restored with putty and polishing.
When choosing windows, pay attention to the presence of pressure rollers at the bottom and top. If the sash is fixed only with the central lock, its edges will move away from the insulation, increasing heat loss. The sash must have a transom mode, which will allow the room to be ventilated.
If you want to make a French window original and exclusive, use a decorative layout (spros), which is a plastic or aluminum grill inserted into the window, dividing the glass into several blocks.
Such decorative elements carry not only the aesthetic function of decorating the window, but are also intended to strengthen the large glazing. Layouts can be constructive (spros divide the window frame into several fragments, in each of which a double-glazed unit is inserted), Venetian, which are glued to the glass inside or outside, and inter-glazed, planned between the glasses even during the manufacture of the double-glazed unit. Such spros are the most practical and easy to clean.
If during operation the door adjustment is disrupted and jamming appears, adjust the elements yourself or with the help of specialists. It is enough to carefully study the instructions, which describe the purpose and function of all bolts.
Do not repair "at random", because it can easily break or break the mechanism . And before adjusting, open the door, first placing a wedge under it so that the heavy structure does not fall, and you can hold it.
"Classics of the genre" - a French window with access to the terrace or garden.
Despite the difficulties faced by the owners of city apartments, who decided to install French windows, these designs remain popular and in demand.
French windows will help create an atmosphere of unity between nature and man.
One of the main advantages of French windows is maximum illumination of the room and, as a result, energy savings.