Door Sidelights Can Spruce Up Any Entry

Written by Angie's List Staff
Updated November 28, 2011
Pella door sidelights exterior door
Sidelights are windows that border a doorway, letting in light. They come in a variety of shapes and styles. (Photo courtesy of Pella® Windows and Doors)

A door installation contractor can help find the perfect sidelight for your home.

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Entry doors come in just about any configuration, style and material imaginable. But depending on their style, they may not offer much light into an entry or living room.

Sidelights, the stationary framed glass panels that sometimes appear on one or both sides of a door, are a way to open up a darker interior and add curb appeal to your exterior.

Though sidelights are most commonly a set of narrow windows about six inches wide, they are also sometimes as wide as the door when installed as part of a wall of windows and doors. Installation of a sidelight can open up the look of a room and add considerable amounts of light.

Manufactured by a variety of companies, including Pella and Andersen, sidelights can come in a variety of materials and finishes including wood, fiberglass or steel, often to compliment the door. In other instances, their frames may be painted to blend in with the woodwork.

Typically, sidelights can be frameless; full-glass, three-quarters glass or half-glass; and like other windows in the home, they can be straight-edged or arched. They also can be customized or semi-customized with grilles to match the overall style of the home.

Most sidelights can accommodate various types of glass, from clear to frosted or textured for those who are concerned with privacy. As with other types of windows, special blinds and curtains also are available to enhance privacy.

The glass also can be leaded, stained or etched with a pattern. Glass and grille options for sidelights can be matched to those used in the doors and caming, the metal used in leaded and stained glass, often can be matched to hardware, such as doorknobs and hinges.

To enhance energy efficiency, the windows in sidelights nowadays contain double-paned, low-E glass. Property owners will want their sidelights to conform to the standards of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association.

Particularly in new construction or in total replacements, the sidelights are often part of a pre-hung door system that also can include a transom that runs horizontally above the entire system.

The size of such a system may mean it’s best to leave installation to a door installation contractor. This is especially prudent since a professional can place the sidelight in order to keep the integrity and security of the door intact.

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