Replacement Windows: The Main Benefits of Sliding Windows

Nick P. Cellucci
Written by Nick P. Cellucci
Updated December 21, 2021
A living room with a fireplace and sliding windows overlooking nature
Photo: Victor zastol'skiy / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Sliding windows open horizontally by sliding on a track.

  • The wider design offers better outdoor views and ventilation.

  • These windows are easier for older adults and small spaces.

  • Not all home designs can fit the larger size of sliding windows.

  • Choose a locking sash design that creates a tighter seal.

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If you’re installing new windows in your home, a horizontal sliding window can be a great choice that’s simple to operate and maintain. These windows offer a variety of unique features and benefits, but they don’t suit every home. It’s important to consider the pros and cons before deciding whether a sliding window is right for your window replacement project.

What Are Sliding Windows?

Before we define sliding windows, it’s important to be familiar with some basic window terminology and parts of a window. A window sash is the movable part of a window that frames and holds panes of glass, fiberglass, vinyl, or other transparent material. The most common home window style is the double-hung window, which features two window sashes that slide up and down to open.

Some other window styles include:

  • Single-hung windows featuring a movable bottom sash and a fixed top sash

  • Casement windows that open outward and operate on a crank

  • Picture windows that remain fixed, have no moving parts, and don’t open

  • Bay windows featuring three sections extending outward from the main wall

Sliding windows, in contrast, feature two or three sashes that slide left and right along a track to open. They tend to come in larger sizes than double-hung windows, and many modern sliding windows feature double panes, meaning there’s a second layer of glass to retain more heat and help improve energy efficiency.

The Pros of Sliding Replacement Windows

Sliding windows are a popular choice for window replacements—and for good reason. Here are some of the benefits they offer homeowners.

Unobstructed Views and Sunlight

The larger size of sliding windows provides a wider window frame for outdoor views and sunlight than that of traditional double-hung windows. Its design also allows for better airflow, as you get ventilation from the full height of the window when left open. Some modern designs even feature a sliding screen. The result is a brighter home and more fresh air.

Easy to Operate

Because they open side to side, sliding windows are simple to operate. This is ideal for hard-to-reach places, such as above kitchen sinks or in small bathrooms, as well as for older adults who may have a harder time exerting the necessary force when lifting or cranking other window styles.

Simple to Repair

Sliding windows glide along a track without the use of springs, pulleys, or cranks. This means they require fewer moving parts to operate than other window styles, making repair and maintenance relatively simple.

Cost-Effective

Though a single sliding window costs more than a double-hung window, sliders can be much wider. This means that fewer windows are required to fill the same amount of space. Additionally, sliding windows tend to cost less than casement windows.

Stormproof

Some homes have storm windows and screens, which are an extra layer of windows installed outside their primary windows for added protection and insulation from wind and weather. Because sliding windows tend to feature insulated double panes of glass, they eliminate the need to climb up on ladders and remove or replace seasonal storm windows.

The Cons of Sliding Replacement Windows

A professional inspecting a house’s sliding windows
Photo: Pormezz / Adobe Stock

Size

Due to their larger size and horizontal length, your home’s existing windows may not be oriented to fit a sliding replacement window without costly renovations. While prairie or contemporary home styles are well-suited to sliding windows, colonial, Cape Cod, and bungalow styles tend to have vertical window orientations.

Cleaning

The U-shaped track of a sliding window tends to collect dirt over time, which requires regular cleaning or the window will become more difficult to operate. Dustier environments will require more frequent cleaning.

Unsecure Seal

The point where the sashes of a sliding window meet isn't always pressure-closed, meaning sliding windows often don't seal as tightly as other window styles. You can avoid this by installing a window with a locking mechanism that pulls the two sashes together when closed.

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