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What are picture windows?

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A picture window is unbeatable for letting in natural light and enhancing your home’s appearance by framing the outdoor scene and providing an unobstructed view.

Simple yet impactful, picture windows offer many benefits. In this article, our experts will examine the benefits and costs and explain how to compare the best deals on these double-glazed windows.

What is a picture window?

A picture window is a large, fixed pane of glass that doesn’t open and is designed to offer expansive views of the outdoors. This window type is appreciated for its simplicity, focusing on maximising visibility and natural light rather than complex functionality. Despite its basic design, a picture window significantly enhances a property’s aesthetic appeal. Homeowners value them for their ability to frame outdoor scenes like a live painting, seamlessly integrating the beauty of nature with interior spaces. 

This blend of function and form makes picture windows a popular choice if you want to bring a touch of the outdoors into your home while maintaining a sleek and minimalistic look.

The benefits and disadvantages of a picture window

Considering the pros and cons can help determine whether picture windows are the right choice for your home. You should balance their aesthetic and functional benefits against any potential drawbacks.


  • Cost: generally, picture windows are more affordable than other types of windows because of their simplicity in design and function
  • Easy maintenance: picture windows don’t have any moving parts, so they’re relatively easy to maintain, and you won’t have to worry about hardware deterioration
  • Increased natural light: the large size of picture windows allows an abundance of natural light to enter the room, brightening up the space and potentially reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day
  • Durability: the lack of moving parts not only makes picture windows easier to maintain but also contributes to their longevity
  • Aesthetic appeal: picture windows offer a clear, unobstructed view of the outside, making them an attractive feature for any home. They can act as a focal point in a room, showcasing the beauty of the outdoors


  • Limited ventilation: picture windows don’t open, so they don’t provide ventilation. This could be a drawback in areas where air circulation is desired
  • Cleaning challenges: depending on their placement, picture windows can be difficult to clean, especially if they’re large or installed in hard-to-reach areas
  • Energy efficiency: while modern picture windows often incorporate energy-efficient double glazing, large expanses of glass can still lead to heat loss in the winter or heat gain in the summer, potentially affecting your home’s energy efficiency
  • Escape routes: in case of emergencies, picture windows do not serve as egress points due to their fixed nature
The best picture windows are positioned to capture a specific vista- perhaps a tree, landscape or corner of a garden(Adobe)

Is there a difference between a picture window and a fixed window?

While both picture and fixed windows are stationary and do not open, there are some distinctions between them, primarily in design intent and framing.

FeatureFixed windowPicture window
PurposeDesigned to let in light and add architectural detail without necessarily maximising the viewPrimarily designed to offer expansive views of the outside, almost like a picture or painting
FrameCan have wider frames, as the focus is more on matching the architectural style of a building rather than providing an unrestricted viewOften have thinner frames to maximise the glass area and provide a clearer, unobstructed view
SizeCan vary in size and are often used in places where opening windows aren’t required but light is neededUsually larger to take advantage of views and bring in more natural light
GlassMay consist of smaller panes or patterns depending on the architectural requirementsTypically made with single large panes of glass to enhance the view
UsageUsed anywhere in a home or building where additional light is desired but ventilation is unnecessaryOften used in living rooms, dining areas or any room where the goal is to highlight the outdoor scenery

What are the most common types of picture windows?

Picture windows come in various styles to complement architectural designs and personal preferences. While specific cost figures can fluctuate based on size, material and manufacturer, here’s an overview of the most common types and associated window prices

  • Standard picture windows: these are the simplest form. They’re often rectangular or square and designed to provide a clear, unobstructed view. They fit well with any home style
  • Architectural or shaped picture windows: custom-shaped windows can include arches, circles, triangles and more and are used to add architectural interest or match unique home details
  • Combination picture windows: this type features a large picture window surrounded by smaller, often operable windows, allowing for both view and ventilation. These combination windows are often incorporated into bow or bay designs

uPVC picture windows

Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) picture windows are favoured for their durability, low maintenance and excellent insulation properties. They are resistant to rotting and fading, making them a practical choice for many homeowners, especially as uPVC windows can be customised in various colours and finishes.

Aluminium picture windows

Aluminium windows offer a sleek, modern look with slim frames and a large glass area, maximising the view. They are strong, durable and resistant to the elements, with minimal maintenance needed. Aluminium frames can be powder coated in a wide range of colours. 

Wooden picture windows

Wooden picture windows add warmth and natural beauty to any space. They’re perfectly suited to traditional and contemporary homes and are highly customisable in terms of shape, size and colour. Wooden windows require more maintenance but offer unparalleled aesthetic appeal. 

Composite picture windows

Composite picture windows are made from a blend of materials, combining the best attributes of wood and uPVC or aluminium. They offer excellent energy efficiency, durability, minimal maintenance and wood’s timeless aesthetic appeal.

What’s a reasonable price to pay for a picture window?

The cost of a picture window can vary significantly based on factors such as size, material and additional features, such as energy-efficient glazing and custom shapes. 

If you’re considering purchasing a picture window, it’s important to get quotes from several double-glazing companies to compare prices and options. You should also consider the long-term benefits of energy savings and aesthetic appeal.

Window material600mm x 900mm900mm x 1,200mm1,200mm x 1,200mm

Picture windows FAQs

Picture windows can be an excellent option, offering several benefits that align well with the needs of UK homeowners. Given the varied climate, maximising natural light is a priority, and the large expanse of glass in picture windows does just that, brightening interiors even on overcast days. 

Modern picture windows come with energy-efficient glazing options that can help maintain comfortable indoor temperatures and reduce energy costs. This addresses concerns about heat loss, particularly relevant in the cooler UK climate. Their fixed nature means they’re more secure and can be more energy-efficient than operable windows, adding an extra layer of insulation against the outside weather. While they don’t offer ventilation, pairing them with operable windows can mitigate this, making them a versatile choice.

Yes, picture windows are built to last. Their stationary design, without any moving parts, such as hinges or locks, significantly reduces wear and tear, contributing to their longevity.

Installing a picture window can increase the value of your home by improving its aesthetic appeal and overall ambience. Additionally, their energy-efficient features attract potential buyers looking for homes with lower energy costs. This combination of benefits makes your home more desirable and can lead to a higher resale value.

A traditional picture window is designed to be stationary and doesn’t open or close. Its primary function is to provide unobstructed views and allow natural light into the space rather than offer ventilation. 

If you’re looking for something that combines the clear views of a picture window with the ability to open for ventilation, consider alternative window styles that feature large panes of glass and operable sections, such as casement windows with minimal framing or sash windows. These alternatives can offer the best of both worlds – the aesthetic appeal of a picture window and the practicality of ventilation.

Katharine Allison

Energy Saving Writer

As Independent Advisor’s energy saving expert, Katharine, a keen advocate for sustainability, is an authority on solar panels, double glazing, and cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Her dedication merges with a commitment to enlighten and steer readers toward embracing eco-friendly solutions and the latest trends in sustainability.

With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.