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How would you select the right windows? [Expert Guide]

Usually, Double-hung windows are great for barndominiums, even the Awning windows bring a minimalist appearance. The Casement windows are okay for spring and summer since they allow cool breezes inside.

Bay windows and picture windows would require some technical sufficiency and considerable factors such as R-value & U-value, Solar heat gain coefficient, visible transmittance, and air leakage ratings.

We will dig down each of these concepts one after another as we move forward with this article.

What type of windows are suitable for barndominium & why?

From my past experience in the design and construction of metal buildings and barndominiums, below are the window types that are preferred by most of the home owners.

The choice of windows in a barndominium or a pole barn is not merely about aesthetics; it’s about functionality, energy efficiency, and the structural integrity of the building.

I will explain the each window types along with suitability and probably challenges.

Double-hung Windows

Double-hung windows are classic. They have two sashes that slide vertically, allowing for ventilation from the top or bottom.

Double Hung Window for Barndominium

For barndominiums and pole barns, double-hung windows offer a traditional look with practical ventilation benefits. However, their potential for energy inefficiency might be a concern in extreme climates.

To address these issues, it’s essential to choose double-hung windows crafted from superior materials and equipped with cutting-edge characteristics. Opting for windows that integrate energy-saving technologies, like double or triple glazed panes, low-emissivity (low-E) coatings, and a layer of inert gas sandwiched between the panes, can significantly improve their ability to maintain temperature. Moreover, focusing on precise installation and bolstering insulation around the window frames can drastically reduce air infiltration, boosting the building’s energy effectiveness as a whole.

For instance, a barndominium in Minnesota, where temperature nosedives during the winter months, would benefit greatly from double-hung windows equipped with these energy-saving features.

Pros: These windows are excellent for ventilation and are easy to clean since many modern designs allow for the sashes to tilt inward.

Cons: They are not the most airtight, potentially leading to higher energy costs.

Awning Windows

Awning windows hinge at the top and open outward, creating an awning effect.

Awning Windows

Awning windows, with their unique ability to keep the rain out while letting fresh air flow in, are a game-changer for barndominiums located in rain-prone areas.

Imagine, if you are in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, where, awning windows allow residents to enjoy the melody of the rain without worrying about water seeping indoors. It also ensures that the space remains ventilated and cozy, even during a downpour.

Similarly, traveling north to Canada, where the climate can swing from wet spring months to cold, snowy winters, awning windows present a clever solution.

For example, In British Columbia, they enable homeowners to harness natural light and maintain air circulation without losing heat, playing a crucial role in energy efficiency.

Pros: They offer excellent ventilation and can be left open during light rain. They’re also quite secure and provide good insulation when closed.

Cons: Their outward opening can obstruct outdoor spaces, and they may not suit every architectural style.

Casement Windows

Casement windows hinge at the side and swing outward like a door, providing maximum ventilation and unobstructed views.

Casement Windows

In coastal areas prone to hurricanes and storms, casement windows can be incredibly advantageous due to their strong seal when closed. When the wind presses against the window, it enhances the seal, making these windows more resistant to water and air infiltration than their sliding counterparts. For example, in Florida, where hurricanes are a regular threat, casement windows equipped with impact-resistant glass provide an added layer of protection against flying debris and strong winds.

Moroever, In regions with many historic homes, such as New England, casement windows can match the aesthetic and functional needs of these properties. They offer a classic look that complements the architectural style of historic homes while providing modern benefits like improved ventilation and energy efficiency.

Pros: They seal tightly when closed, offering superior energy efficiency, and are easy to open and close.

Cons: Similar to awning windows, their outward swing can be a problem in areas with limited outdoor space.

Bay Windows

Bay windows project outward from the main walls, forming a bay in the room. They are a combination of windows, usually with a fixed window in the center flanked by casements or double-hung windows.

Bay Windows

While bay windows can add a stunning aesthetic and functional value to a barndominium or pole barn, their installation in metal structures requires careful consideration of the load-bearing aspects and insulation. They are more suited to areas in a barndominium that require a focal point or additional space, like living areas or master bedrooms.

Pros: They add architectural interest and increase natural light and views. They also create additional space inside.

Cons: The complexity of their design makes them more expensive and challenging to install.

Need a Barndominium Floor Plan?

We filtered out the trending barndominiun design layouts in one place.

Picture Windows

Picture windows are large, fixed panes of glass designed to provide unobstructed views of the outside while letting in maximum light.

Picture Windows

In barndominiums and pole barns with scenic surroundings, picture windows can be a magnificent addition, bringing the beauty of the outdoors inside. However, their use should be balanced with other window types to ensure adequate ventilation, especially in living spaces or areas prone to moisture, causing a condensation.

Pros: They offer excellent energy efficiency since they do not open and close, and maximize the natural light and views.

Cons: Lack of ventilation and the potential for heat gain in warmer climates due to their size.

How would you decide any window for your barndominium?

Choosing a window pattern is not just picking a cherry from the pack.

The window types must adhere to the floor plan and overall architectural point of view. Moreso, the appeal, be it aesthetic or modern will largely depend on what type of window are you choosing. We recommend to maintain an evenness with between the doors and windows so that together they do not look awekward.

Lastly, the climate would be a strong driver while choosing the window.

As said earlier, casement windows are perfect for the coastal areas whereas the picture window mostly suits a barndominium being surrounded by scenic beauty.

However, below is a simple checklist you may follow before choosing any window types:

Window TypeVentilationEnergy EfficiencyViewSuitability for Harsh WeatherAesthetic FlexibilityCost RangeKey Decision Factors
Double-hungExcellentGood (with upgrades)GoodModerateHighModerateTraditional look, ventilation needs, budget considerations.
AwningGoodVery GoodLimitedHighModerateModerate to HighRainy climates, need for higher window placement, security.
CasementExcellentVery GoodExcellentHighHighModerate to HighMaximum ventilation, desire for great views, energy efficiency.
BayVariesGoodExcellentModerateVery HighHighArchitectural interest, added space, natural light.
PictureNoneExcellentExcellentHighHighModerate to HighUnobstructed views, maximizing natural light, energy efficiency.
Barndominium window selection checklist

What is the standard height of barndominium windows?

The standard practice is that windows are often positioned with their bottoms about 3 feet (or 36 inches) from the floor. However, the “standard” can vary based on the design, function, and overall architectural style of the barndominium.

Moreover, the top of these windows typically extends to about 6 to 6.5 feet (or 72 to 78 inches) above the floor. This range allows for ample natural light and ventilation without compromising the structural integrity of the walls or the visual balance of the room.

What should you consider before selecting the windows?

Choosing the right window types for a barndominium involves more than just picking out designs that appeal to your aesthetic sensibilities.

By considering the below key factors and grounding your decisions in practical examples, you can make choices that serve your needs well.

Climate Adaptability

First and foremost, your local climate should significantly influence your window type choice. For example, during the heavy summer of Texas, where temperatures can soar above 100°F, choosing windows with low-E coatings and double glazing is crucial.

These windows reduce heat gain, keeping your metal structure cooler without overworking the air conditioning system.

In contrast, in colder climates like Minnesota’s frigid winters, triple-glazed casement windows can provide the tight seal necessary to keep the heat in and the cold out, reducing heating costs. Keep in mind that the window alone cannot solve your temperature controlling as it works together with your insulation and air sealing.

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of a window type is paramount, not only for environmental concerns but also for reducing utility bills.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat gain and loss through windows are responsible for 25%-30% of residential heating and cooling energy use. Windows like double-hung with low-E coatings or casement windows with insulated frames are popular choices among barndominium owners for their energy-saving potential.

Selecting ENERGY STAR-rated windows can lead to significant savings; for instance, an average household in the Pacific Northwest can save up to $366 per year when replacing single-pane windows.

Aesthetic and Architectural Style

Your barndominium’s architectural style will also dictate your window choice. Modern barndominiums with minimalist designs often feature large picture windows to create seamless indoor-outdoor transitions, offering stunning views of the landscape.

Traditional or rustic styles, on the other hand, might benefit from the classic look of double-hung windows, which can complement the aesthetic without sacrificing functionality.

Ventilation and Natural Light

Consideration of how windows contribute to ventilation and natural light is crucial. Awning windows, for example, are excellent for ventilation and can be placed high on walls to preserve privacy while allowing light and air to flow.

In areas like California, where natural light is abundant and desired, large casement windows can maximize light entry and can be opened to allow fresh air to circulate, enhancing the indoor air quality and comfort.

Cost vs. Benefit

Budget constraints play a significant role in the decision-making process. While bay windows can add significant architectural interest and increase the value of your property, they are also more complex and costly to install.

Weighing the cost versus the benefits of each window type is essential. For instance, investing in high-quality, energy-efficient windows may have a higher upfront cost but can result in long-term savings on energy bills and increased property value.

Here’s two examples I should mention from my personal experience with barndo windows.

  • In Colorado, a barndominium owner opted for triple-glazed casement windows to withstand the cold winters and sunny summers, achieving both thermal efficiency and maximizing the picturesque views of the Rocky Mountains.
  • A Florida barndominium incorporated impact-resistant awning windows to protect against hurricanes while ensuring the home remained bright and airy, showcasing the adaptability of windows to local environmental challenges.

Window cost comparison & Fact sheet

Let me help you with a quick comparison of the different window costs. Even though this cost would be within the financial offer of your barndominium kit provider or contractor, you still need this information in case of changing or renovating your existing house.

Window TypeAvg. Cost (Materials)Installation CostFactors Affecting CostTotal Est. CostDouble-hung$200 – $450$100 – $200Size, material, energy-efficient features.$300 – $650Awning$400 – $600$100 – $250Size, material, opening mechanism, energy-efficient features.$500 – $850Casement$300 – $500$150 – $300Size, material, hardware, energy-efficient features.$450 – $800Bay$1,200 – $3,500$500 – $1,000Size, number of panes, custom designs, structural modifications.$1,700 – $4,500Picture$250 – $750$50 – $400Size, glass type, framing material.$300 – $1,150

Do you understand the window ratings?

Navigating window ratings can feel like deciphering a secret code, especially for new barndominium owners. However, understanding these ratings is key to choosing the right windows for your home. Let’s break down the most common window ratings and explain what they mean in a straightforward way, making it easier to decide which ones are suitable for different areas or structures.

U-Factor (or U-Value)

What It Is: The U-Factor measures the window’s ability to prevent heat from escaping. It’s essentially about insulation. The rating falls typically between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the U-Factor, the better the window is at keeping heat inside, making it crucial for colder climates.

Ideal for: Cold regions where heating needs are higher, such as the northern parts of the USA. For barndominiums in these areas, selecting windows with a low U-Factor can help maintain warmth and reduce heating costs.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

What It Is: SHGC measures how well a window can block heat from the sun. The rating ranges from 0 to 1. A lower SHGC means the window is better at blocking heat, which is essential in hot climates to keep interiors cooler and reduce air conditioning needs.

Ideal for: Hot, sunny climates like those in the Southern and Southwestern USA. Barndominium owners in these regions should look for windows with low SHGC ratings to minimize solar heat gain and maintain cooler indoor temperatures.

Visible Transmittance (VT)

What It Is: VT measures how much natural light a window lets through, with ratings between 0 and 1. Higher values indicate more light penetration. This rating doesn’t necessarily impact energy efficiency but affects brightness and visibility inside your home.

Ideal for: All climates, but particularly areas where maximizing natural light is desired without concern for heat gain or loss. For barndominiums looking to enhance interior natural lighting, choosing windows with a higher VT rating is beneficial.

Air Leakage (AL)

What It Is: This rating measures the amount of air that passes through the window’s joints, indicating how well the window prevents air infiltration. Rated from 0.1 to 0.3, lower scores mean less air leakage.

Ideal for: Regions experiencing strong winds or extreme weather conditions. In such areas, a barndominium with windows having a low AL rating will better withstand the elements and maintain indoor comfort.

Condensation Resistance (CR)

What It Is: CR rates a window’s ability to resist the formation of condensation on the interior surface. The scale runs from 0 to 100; higher numbers indicate better resistance to condensation.

Ideal for: Areas with high humidity or significant temperature differences between indoors and outdoors. For barndominiums in these climates, choosing windows with a high CR rating can help reduce moisture build-up and the potential for mold or mildew.

Understanding these ratings can significantly impact the comfort, energy efficiency, and even the long-term maintenance needs of your barndominium. By choosing windows that align with the specific demands of your local climate and your home’s design, you can create a space that’s not only beautiful but also comfortable and sustainable.

Installation dips for the DIY people

DIY window installation in a barndominium can be a rewarding project, saving money and adding a personal touch to your home. However, it’s crucial to approach the task with careful planning and preparation to ensure a successful outcome. Here are some tips for DIY window installers looking to take on this project in their barndominium:

  • Measure Twice, Order Once: Accuracy in measuring your window openings cannot be overstated. A common mistake is not accounting for any irregularities in the wall or existing frame. Measure the width and height at multiple points and use the smallest measurements to ensure a proper fit.
  • Understand Local Building Codes: Before starting, check local building codes and regulations regarding window installation. Some areas may require specific types of windows or installation methods to ensure energy efficiency and safety.
  • Choose the Right Windows for Your Climate: Consider the window ratings discussed earlier (U-Factor, SHGC, etc.) to select windows that are appropriate for your local climate. This decision will impact your barndominium’s energy efficiency and comfort levels.
  • Have the Right Tools Ready: Ensure you have all necessary tools and materials before starting. Typical tools include a level, tape measure, hammer, drill, caulking gun, insulation, and waterproof flashing. Having everything at hand will streamline the installation process.
  • Prepare the Opening: Remove the old window carefully to avoid damage to the surrounding walls. Check the sill for level and the frame for squareness. Make any necessary repairs or adjustments to ensure a proper fit for the new window.
  • Install Flashing: Apply waterproof flashing around the window opening to prevent water intrusion. This step is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your barndominium’s structure and preventing mold growth.
  • Secure the Window: Place the new window into the opening and use shims to ensure it is level, square, and plumb. Once properly aligned, secure the window to the frame according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Insulate and Seal: After the window is installed, fill the gaps between the window frame and the opening with insulation to prevent drafts. Then, apply caulk around the exterior of the window to seal it against weather and leaks.
  • Finishing Touches: Install any necessary trim or molding around the window, both inside and out, to create a finished look. Paint or stain the trim to match your barndominium’s decor.
  • Inspect and Test: Once the installation is complete, inspect your work for any gaps or areas that may need additional sealing. Test the window to ensure it opens, closes, and locks smoothly.
  • Don’t Rush: Take your time with the installation to ensure it’s done right. Rushing can lead to mistakes that might compromise the window’s performance or aesthetic appeal.
  • Seek Help if Needed: If at any point you feel unsure about the installation process, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional. It’s better to ask for help than to risk improper installation.

Benefits & challenges of large windows in barndominium design

Large windows in barndominium designs bring a myriad of benefits, making your living space not just a place to stay, but a place to thrive. Here are the key advantages laid out for easy readability:

  • Natural Light: They flood interiors with sunlight, reducing the need for artificial lighting and energy costs.
  • Views: Offer expansive views of the surroundings, connecting you with nature or urban vistas.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Enhance the architectural design, adding a modern touch and increasing property value.
  • Ventilation: Improve air circulation when operational, contributing to better indoor air quality.
  • Energy Efficiency: With the right glass options, they can help in temperature regulation, reducing heating and cooling expenses.
  • Mood Boosting: Increased exposure to natural light can elevate moods and boost overall well-being.

Despite these appealing benefits, there are challenges to consider:

  • Privacy: Large windows can expose your living spaces, necessitating strategic design or treatments for privacy.
  • Energy Balance: Without proper glazing, they can lead to heat loss in winter and overheating in summer, impacting utility bills.
  • Structural Integrity: The larger openings may require additional structural support, potentially increasing construction costs.
  • Cost: High-quality, large windows come with higher initial costs for both purchase and installation.

Which window frame is better? metal, wood, or vinyl?

Choosing a right window frame is again confusing as it depends on your budget. structural plan and climate where your barndominium is located in.

We always prefer a metal frame as they are more secure and highly resistant to warping, rotting, and termite damage.

However, there are justification for the suitability of each of the window frames available.

Let me present a quick chart that justifies each of the window frames from different angle.

Energy EfficiencyModerate (with thermal break)HighHigh
MaintenanceLowHighVery Low
Aesthetic AppealHigh (Modern)High (Classic)Moderate
CostModerate to HighHighLow to Moderate
Suitability for ClimatesAll (with considerations for condensation)Mild to moderate (with proper maintenance)All
Window frame comparison

How would you recognize Impact-Resistant Windows for storm-prone area

Recognizing Impact-Resistant Windows for storm-prone areas is crucial for ensuring the safety and durability of your barndominium, especially in regions of the USA that are susceptible to hurricanes and severe weather events. These windows are designed to withstand high winds and flying debris, a common threat during storms. Here’s how to identify them:

  • Look for the Label: Genuine impact-resistant windows come with labels indicating they have been tested for impact resistance. These labels often include performance grades, the manufacturer’s name, and the testing standards they meet (like ASTM E1886 and E1996).
  • Check for Certification: Ensure the windows are certified by reputable organizations such as the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) or the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). These certifications mean the windows have undergone rigorous testing to meet specific safety and performance standards.
  • Construction Details: Impact-resistant windows typically feature a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) sandwiched between two panes of glass. This construction prevents the window from shattering upon impact. The frames are also stronger and more durable, often made from aluminum or reinforced vinyl, to withstand the force of high winds.
  • Manufacturer’s Documentation: Reputable manufacturers provide detailed documentation and specifications for their impact-resistant windows. This documentation includes information on wind load, impact resistance, and the specific design pressures the window can withstand.

For barndominium owners in the USA, particularly those in hurricane-prone areas like the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Eastern Seaboard, choosing impact-resistant windows is a wise investment. Not only do they provide critical protection during storms, but they can also enhance the overall value of your property and may reduce insurance premiums due to their added safety features.

Repair & Maintenance tips

Maintaining and repairing barndominium windows ensures their longevity and performance. Here are targeted tips considering different window types, frames, and other influential factors:

Double-Hung Windows

  • Lubrication: Annually lubricate the tracks and rollers to ensure smooth operation.
  • Check Balances: Inspect and adjust the spring balances to prevent sash issues.

Casement Windows

  • Hinge Care: Lubricate hinges and operators yearly for ease of use.
  • Seal Check: Regularly check the seal integrity and apply weatherstripping if needed.

Awning Windows

  • Hardware Inspection: Inspect the closing mechanism and hardware for wear; replace if necessary.
  • Drainage: Ensure the weep holes are clear of debris to prevent water buildup.

Picture Windows

  • Sealant Inspection: Annually inspect the exterior sealants for gaps or cracks to prevent leaks.
  • Cleaning: Use non-abrasive cleaners to avoid scratching the glass.

Bay/Bow Windows

  • Structural Support: Periodically check the support cables or braces to ensure stability.
  • Joint Sealing: Check and reseal any gaps along the window joints to maintain energy efficiency.

Window Frames

  • Vinyl Frames: Clean with a mild detergent; check for warping or heat damage.
  • Wood Frames: Look for signs of rot or water damage; repaint or reseal as needed.
  • Metal Frames: Check for rust or corrosion; treat with rust inhibitor and repaint if necessary.

General Maintenance Tips

  • Cleaning: Regularly clean windows to prevent dirt buildup that can damage tracks and frames.
  • Inspection: Conduct seasonal inspections for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Repairs: Address issues like cracked glass or damaged frames promptly to maintain structural integrity.
  • Professional Help: For complex issues, consider hiring a professional to ensure proper repair and maintenance.

Remember, consistent care and maintenance of your barndominium windows not only extend their lifespan but also enhance your home’s energy efficiency and comfort.

How can you add security features into windows?

Adding security features to windows is crucial for enhancing the safety of your barndominium. Here are practical ways to fortify your windows against break-ins and ensure peace of mind:

  • Window Locks: Upgrade standard locks with high-quality, tamper-resistant locks. For double-hung windows, consider adding pin locks, and for sliding windows, use key-operated locks or a charley bar.
  • Impact-Resistant Glass: Install windows with impact-resistant glass, which is designed to withstand heavy impacts and extreme weather conditions. This type of glass is harder to break, offering an additional layer of security.
  • Window Alarms: Attach window alarms that trigger a loud noise when the window is opened or broken. This can deter intruders and alert you to potential security breaches.
  • Security Films: Apply security film to your window glass. This clear film makes the glass harder to break and can hold the glass together even if shattered, preventing easy entry.
  • Window Bars or Grilles: For ground-level or accessible windows, consider installing decorative bars or grilles. These can be designed to match your home’s aesthetic while providing a physical barrier to entry.
  • Reinforced Window Frames: Strengthen window frames with metal reinforcement or use security screws to prevent them from being easily removed or tampered with.
  • Floodlights and Motion Sensors: Install motion-sensor floodlights around your windows. The sudden illumination can deter intruders and make it difficult for them to approach unseen.
  • Smart Windows: Consider smart windows that integrate with home security systems. These windows can send alerts to your smartphone if they’re tampered with or opened unexpectedly.
  • Privacy Treatments: Use window treatments like curtains, blinds, or privacy film to obscure the view into your home, making it harder for potential intruders to scope out valuables or entry points.
  • Landscaping: Maintain landscaping around windows to eliminate hiding spots for burglars. Thorny bushes or plants under windows can also act as a natural deterrent.


In conclusion, selecting the right windows for a barndominium involves a careful balance between aesthetic appeal, energy efficiency, and functionality tailored to the unique needs of the structure and its location. From the importance of choosing the appropriate frame material to understanding the benefits of various window types and incorporating impact-resistant features for storm-prone areas, the decisions made can significantly enhance the comfort, security, and overall value of a barndominium. Regular maintenance and the addition of security features further ensure that these windows continue to provide safety, light, and beauty for years to come.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper

I'm Brian, an architectural engineer from the University of Texas

Writing about barndominium is my passion. I try to bring informative and technical contents on barndominium so that the entire sourcing and construction process seems easy.

As an architectural engineer, I do have expertise of designing and building using prefabricated steel structures. Moreover, I am connected with 500+ prefabricated steel structure experts that helps me to gather and prepare the relevant information for your help.

I have experience of 250+ barndominium contrustion of which 75% are built with metal structure. Moreover, I am a trained energy audit professional, and with that specialization I can help you to bring your barndo's energy consumption at minimum level.

I hope you like my write-ups which is my greatest inspiration.

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