Surely each of us would like to have a lot of light and space in his apartment or country house. Full-length French windows with panoramic views will visually expand the space and let in a lot of sunlight. It is worth carefully weighing the pros and cons when deciding on such panoramic glazing, as it is ideal for country houses, but in city apartments it can be a rather controversial option. 

The warm climate of Southern France predetermined the appearance of large panoramic windows with sashes resembling doors. They were installed in houses with access to a patio or private garden, from where picturesque views opened. French windows differ from ordinary ones in their size and height from floor to ceiling. In fact, such windows have the purpose of both windows and doors. In the city, such windows are installed in apartments with a loggia, and in houses they serve as an exit to the porch, to the winter garden or to the courtyard. 

Like any design, French windows have their pros and cons. Among the advantages we can point out the generous amount of light, their ability to visually expand the space, functionality – since the design combines a window and a door, aesthetics, beautiful panoramic view. But before you decide to install French windows, it is worth remembering some of their shortcomings: additional window insulation will be required, to ensure complete safety for family members (especially children and pets), it will be necessary to install shock-resistant glasses, which are not cheap, constant maintenance and cleaning (and if they are installed on a high floor, cleaning them from both sides can become an issue), psychological discomfort from being constantly on display (especially in the city). 

The warm climate of Southern France predetermined the appearance of large panoramic windows with sashes resembling doors.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

There are many varieties of French windows, depending on the material of the profile, glazing, type of construction. Window profiles are made from different materials: 

  • The aluminum profile for windows is light and strong at the same time – this is its main advantage when it comes to such large and heavy windows as French ones. The insulated aluminum profile is the most popular, as it is durable and at the same time not so expensive. It is made of aluminum and glass fiber reinforced polyamide. Recently, on the market appeared aluminium profiles with a heat-insulating layer between the outer and inner profile, which is really important for French windows constructions. 
  • The most environmentally friendly are the French windows with a wooden frame. In addition, the wood looks warm and beautiful. Another advantage of wooden windows is that they will provide ventilation of the room even when closed, and a minus is the complexity of processing and maintenance. But their main drawback is the high cost, especially if you use expensive wood species like ash, oak and beech. 
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) frames are affordable and durable, they will last you at least 10 years, and even more with some proper care. They can withstand temperatures from -75 to +175 F without any problems. Since plastic is easy to process, it can be used to make a frame of almost any configuration and color. 
  • An innovation in the market of window frames is the glass composite – these frames do not require additional reinforcement and look beautiful. They are distinguished by low thermal conductivity, strength and low weight. Perhaps the only drawback is the relatively high price.

French windows are solid or sectional. Solid ones are distinguished by the absence of partitions in the frame. When buying such windows, you should pay attention to the way they are opened. Fittings must be strong to withstand the weight of large tempered glass. The most acceptable way to open such a solid structure is sliding. Sectional structures divide the panoramic window into smaller inner parts, which increases the reliability and strength of the large window.

The most environmentally friendly are the French windows with a traditional wooden frame.
Photo by Elena Kloppenburg on Unsplash

There are several different types of French windows depending on how they open – as an “accordion” with retractable frames, sliding structures or the very traditional hinged ones. The choice depends mainly on the size of the windows and the room in which they are installed. 

The great variety of French-style window designs, materials, textures and colors make it possible to fit panoramic glazing into any interior design – from classic to Hi-tech.

Of course, the best place for the French window will be the country house, where there will be direct access to the courtyard or garden with a beautiful view. In such houses, French windows can occupy just one wall, but also more, completely opening the room to the surrounding landscape and becoming a link between man and nature. 

It is also not uncommon for city apartments, but the option of installing panoramic windows is possible mainly for owners in new buildings, where the architects initially provided the possibility of such a design. 

Of course, panoramic windows are an interior and exterior decoration themselves. However, they can be additionally decorated by toning, adding stained-glass windows, pleated blinds, roller blinds, etc. The color scheme, texture and ornaments of textiles on the windows should correspond to the general style in the interior. A classic interior can be created using Roman blinds. Japanese panels – shoji-style sliding screens – will also be an excellent option. You can even make them yourself. On the south facade, where the intensity of sunlight is especially high, you can use sun blinds made of thick “blackout” material. 

Panoramic French windows are an interior and exterior decoration themselves.
Photo by Jorge De Jorge on Unsplash

If you are building a house from scratch, then it will be much easier for you to add French windows to the project. And if you want to install them in an already existing house or apartment, contact an architect or a construction engineer who will take into account the features of the building and draw up a plan for installing panoramic windows. As a rule, powerful lintels or columns are used to support the upper floor.


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