Barndominium Windows: The Ultimate Guide (2024)

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Barndominiums are a type of residence incorporating the utility of an American rural barn’s exterior and the sleek practicality of a modern house on the inside. You can buy them as a kit, a house built from scratch, or a restoration of an unused agricultural building.

Many barndominiums, or barndos, are made from wood or mixed materials. But, the vast majority, and the cheapest to buy, have steel framing covered in vinyl or steel siding and roof.

Building a barndo allows you to add your touches to the design, and windows don’t only contribute to how your barndo looks. They also have an essential function that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Using the correct size and type of window in the right place is crucial to their overall usage and how the building interacts with you and your environment. 

This guide helps you decide which windows to use and what options there are. By knowing as much as you can about windows, you can make the right choice and improve your barndo project.

Table of Contents

Why Are Windows Essential?

Good quality barndominium windows do a great job in your home, and it’s not only about providing natural light. Additionally, windows affect your barndo’s aesthetics and functionality in many ways.

Natural light aside, windows also increase energy efficiency and save money on energy bills. The two buzzwords to understand here are the R-value and U-value. Let’s consider each to know how they relate to our windows.

R-value

R-values are the insulating materials’ resistance to heat loss by conduction. We can also define it as the thermal resistance per unit area.

Mathematically: 

  • In the USA, we express this as  Btu/(h ft2 ⁰F). 
  • In SI units, this is m2 ⁰K/W.

Larger R-values have a more significant insulating effect than smaller values.

U-value

U-value is the heat transfer rate through a material divided by the temperature difference across the two surfaces. 

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Mathematically:

  • In the US, we measure U-value in British thermal units (Btu) per hour-square feet-degrees Fahrenheit or Btu/(h ft2 ⁰F). 
  • In SI units, this is W/m2 ⁰K. 

Therefore, the better your insulation, the lower the U-value. Furthermore, U-values consider all types of heat loss caused by convention, conduction, and radiation.

The US Department of Energy publishes a helpful page explaining insulation on its Energy Saver website. Typically, windows gain a higher R-value by using double or triple glazing and thermally efficient window frames.

Types Of Windows For Barndominiums

When you decide on the type of windows for your barndo, take your time and don’t hurry. You’d be amazed at the difference a beautiful set of windows makes when you choose the right ones. And many sizes, materials, designs, and colors are available.

Generally, we all know that there are many climate zones in the US, and choosing the best window is often the type that suits your weather, but don’t forget what they look like. These two features are what makes the choice sing.

Different Window Styles

Reviewing each window type lets us see what each one is best for, which you can then relate to your circumstances.

Awning Windows

Awning windows offer a simple design with lots of benefits. They give excellent ventilation when open and, when closed, provide great insulation.

They open from the bottom and have hinges at the top.

Their main benefit is that they keep the rain out and help prevent flying insects from coming indoors.

Casement Windows

Casement windows hinge on the side; you can choose them as single or double-opening pairs. They can open inwards or outwards depending on the space you have and your preferences.

They’re ideal for spring and summer use as they allow good ventilation into the room, and they allow plenty of natural light when open.

Typically, casements have good seals, preventing drafts and helping to keep the house warm in winter.

Bay Windows

Bay windows usually have three window frames connected so that the side panels sit at an angle to the wall.

This arrangement pushes the center pane away from the wall, giving more room indoors and allowing a complete 180⁰ viewpoint from indoors, which is perfect if you have a great view you want to show off.

The style lets in plenty of natural light for bedrooms and living rooms.

Picture Windows

Picture windows have a large expanse of glass with a frame surrounding the scenery outside. They allow lots of light into the room, allowing you to see as much outside view as possible.

The glass is sometimes one large pane but may be multiple panes.

Generally, the windows don’t open, so they’re also known as fixed windows, which don’t give any ventilation.

Single-hung and Double-hung Windows

Double and single-hung windows are very popular because they look traditional and in keeping with your barndo architecture. But, they also offer the practicality of modern technology.

In a single-hung window, there is one fixed sash. At the same time, the other freely slides up and down to give the maximum ventilation without protruding on the outside or inside.

Thus, it’s advantageous if the windows open onto a narrow pedestrian way, such as on a balcony, porch, or deck. Furthermore, the moveable sash can tilt to open the window, allowing access for cleaning. 

A double-hung window operates on the same principle as the single-hung except that both panes slide and open.

Window Frame Materials

Window frames can be made from several materials, each with advantages and disadvantages.

Which one you choose is up to you, but if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, ask if there are any window rules you must comply with.

Vinyl Windows

Vinyl window frames are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It’s a type of plastic that’s great for construction projects as it is flexible, durable, can be molded into almost any shape, and can be colored using an extensive color range.

Furthermore, many projects use vinyl siding to complement the windows. Vinyl frames are popular because they’re energy-efficient, durable, and affordable.

Like all plastics, vinyl is a good insulator, comparable with wood. So, you won’t lose heat through the window frames during the cold months or gain heat during summer.

Typically, vinyl window frames have cavities and insulating foam molded inside to reduce heat transfer further. Although vinyl is affordable, its best attribute is that it’s virtually maintenance-free and doesn’t need painting.

Pros

  • Resistant to rot, warping, and corrosion
  • Recyclable
  • Low heat transfer
  • Relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • Sometimes, there are limited color choices.

Aluminum Windows

Aluminum is a typical choice for projects requiring thin, strong frames with a large glass surface area. Like vinyl, aluminum is also more affordable than other materials.

Aluminum is a lightweight, versatile metal used for many purposes in the construction industry, such as doors, windows, and skylights. The metal can be strengthened by adding other elements to produce alloys with distinctive and unique properties.

Probably, one of the most valuable properties is that it doesn’t rust like steel or iron. Furthermore, we can buy aluminum in many molded shapes and colored coatings.

However, metals conduct heat very well, thus increasing the window’s U-value considerably. Therefore, your home will lose heat through the frames during winter and gain heat in summer. 

If you decide to have aluminum windows for their strength and durability, check with the building codes first. Some jurisdictions, such as North Texas, have energy building codes that won’t allow the use of aluminum because of its high U-value. 

Pros

  • It won’t warp or swell when exposed to weather.
  • Firm yet slender frame profiles allow you to use larger areas of glass.
  • Relatively low maintenance
  • Easily molded into many profiles
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Inexpensive
  • Recyclable

Cons

  • Very low thermal efficiency
  • Causes condensation

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass window frames are high quality and have many benefits. They consist of glass fibers embedded in an epoxy polymer matrix.

It can be molded into many different profiles to produce the shapes needed for window frames. However, over time, extreme weather and ultraviolet radiation can weaken the matrix and affect the material’s performance, so it won’t last forever.

Generally, fiberglass is as versatile as aluminum, energy-efficient, and environmentally-friendly, but is much more expensive to buy.

Pros

  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Energy-efficient
  • Low maintenance
  • Moisture and corrosion-resistant
  • Readily shaped into various profiles
  • Easily colored

Cons

  • Relatively expensive

Composite Windows

Composite window frames consist of two or more materials blended to form a composite. Typically, man-made wood products are an excellent example as they consist of wood fibers and sawdust blended with an epoxy resin matrix.

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Combining the two materials creates a material with wood’s structure and energy efficiency. But, without the problems associated with moisture and fungal rot.

Composite materials technology continuously improves, giving window frames a long lifespan. Furthermore, we can shape, stain, and paint them to simulate natural wood.

Pros

  • Energy-efficient
  • Recyclable
  • Environmentally-friendly material
  • Rot- and corrosion-resistant
  • Mechanically stable (won’t warp or split), unlike natural wood

Cons

  • Many different composite grades to suit various applications
  • Variable durability is usually dependent on the manufacturer

Solid Wood Windows

Everyone wants natural wood windows, which look beautiful when crafted correctly. But they also have issues that come with being a natural material.

Natural wood frames need more hand craftsmanship than other materials, making them more expensive. But, they have an old-world charm you can’t mimic with other materials.

You can paint or stain them with shades of different colors; each tree species gives different woodgrain effects, and each tree’s grain is unique. Typical examples of tree species used in window construction include:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Mahogany
  • Pine
  • Oak

Wooden windows tend to be used in high-end or older houses, as they cost a lot and need more maintenance than other materials.

Furthermore, they suffer from rot, splitting, and warping if not correctly looked after. But, if maintained well, the frames will last for decades, and you’ll have a highly energy-efficient material to help keep your energy bills low.

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Unique woodgrain patterns
  • Easily shaped by hand or machine
  • Energy-efficient

Cons

  • Prone to rot, splitting, warping, and insect infestation
  • Needs regular maintenance
  • Expensive to fit out an entire house with wood windows

Structure

Let’s examine the pros and cons of the different window types mentioned previously.

Awning Windows

Awning windows hang from hinges mounted at the top of the window.

We use them in many different styles of homes and business premises.

Pros
  • If placed high on a wall, you gain ventilation and privacy, which is especially useful in bathrooms.
  • Can be placed above doors for natural lighting, but doesn’t compromise privacy or security. 
  • Leave an awning window open during lousy weather, and it allows ventilation without rain coming indoors.
  • Placing these windows high up a wall maximizes interior space as you can position many types of furniture below them.
  • They come in many shapes, styles, designs, and materials.
  • Prices start at a budget level.
Cons
  • Generally, building codes won’t allow you to install awning windows as a designated fire escape route because of their typical size, shape, and position on the wall. They are also difficult to open fully and remain open without using stays. So, check with building codes for permitted locations.
  • These windows open outward, so we can’t use them where there is foot traffic unless positioned high on a wall. So, don’t use them opening onto a deck or porch.
  • Because awning windows open outwards and hinged at the top, they collect more dirt than most other window types. Also, they’re difficult to clean, and we can only access them from outside. So, we may need special access equipment to reach

Casement Windows

Casement windows have hinges on the side and generally swing outwards, although sometimes they open inward.

Pros
  • Often used in locations where you can’t easily reach the window sash, such as above countertops.
  • Readily available in a large variety of sizes, designs, and materials. Often incorporated with other window types, such as bow, bay, and French doors, or as part of a larger installation. 
  • Casements are among the most energy-efficient window types, as there is an airtight seal when the sash is closed in the frame.
  • It can ventilate a room efficiently due to its side opening.
Cons
  • Can’t install air conditioners in casement windows.
  • Usually, you can’t install screens, storm windows, or shutters, as these would prevent the outward opening sash from opening fully. 
  • Because the sash has side-mounted hinges, there is a limit on the window size. Otherwise, the weight of the glass may be too much for the frame and hinges when they’re open.

Bay Windows

Bay windows project from the exterior wall surface.

Pros
  • These windows contain a lot of glass, using minimal wall space, therefore allowing more natural light into the room.
  • The angled windows allow sunlight to enter the room from many directions, thus making the room brighter.
  • Bay windows give more floor space inside the room.
  • Often, bay windows are the first thing that prospective buyers notice, so they increase the house’s resale value.
Cons
  • Bay windows are potentially more challenging to install than flat windows. 
  • Over time, their individual roof can develop leaks, requiring expert attention.
  • They’re expensive to make and install.
  • Although more light in the house is usually a good point, they can allow more sunlight indoors during the summer, increasing the interior temperature.

Picture Windows

Picture windows, or fixed windows, give your home a stylish and sophisticated appearance. 

Pros
  • They have good insulation and weatherproofing; the frames have tight seals around the edges and don’t open. 
  • A picture window with a Low-E coating on the glass increases the unit’s energy efficiency.
  • Because a picture window doesn’t open, its size is limited only by the manufacturer’s maximum area. 
  • Allows more sunlight to enter, limiting the amount of artificial light needed during daylight hours.
  • Due to the windows’ simplicity, they are easy to clean and maintain without components like hinges and handles.
  • Picture windows don’t need replacement mechanical parts; therefore, they cost less than similarly sized casement or sliding windows.
Cons
  • Picture windows don’t offer ventilation. So, if your climate is naturally warm, you must find another way to ventilate and cool the interior.
  • Although a picture window is easy to clean from inside the room, the exterior is difficult and requires specialist access equipment, especially if the window is large or positioned on upper stories.
  • Large picture windows can let in a lot of heat unless adequately treated with reflective coatings, reducing energy efficiency in hot climates.
  • Picture windows don’t have individual components that we can change when they wear out. Therefore, with wear and tear over time, they must be removed and replaced as one unit. This can be expensive.

Single-hung and Double-hung Windows

Whether you have two opening sashes or just a single one, they are very much in demand and are the most popular in the US.

And, with improved window technology, they now tilt to improve the ease of cleaning exterior surfaces from indoors.

Pros
  • Modern tilting versions eliminate the need to access the windows and clean them from outside using ladders.
  • Double-hung windows are the easiest to install with air conditioning units. 
  • Double-hung windows are highly energy-efficient, especially with double or triple glazing and good weatherstripping.
Cons
  • Double-hung windows are more expensive than single-hung windows. But, many would argue that the ability to open both sashes more than compensates for this.
  • Old double-hung windows may not be as airtight as other window types.
  • Always check the top sash is correctly secured. Otherwise, gravity may slowly inch the upper sash open.

Different Glass Types

Choosing the type of glass to go in your barndo is also essential.

There are four main glass types with good heat retention and high R-values, especially when used in double or triple-glazed units. 

Bronze Tint

Bronze tint glass has several benefits:

  • Increased energy efficiency by reducing the amount of sunlight through the window reduces the stress on your HVAC system.
  • Protects furniture and furnishings from sunlight’s bleaching effect.
  • Reduces sun glare and reflections on shiny surfaces while allowing natural light to enter the room.
  • Increases privacy by reducing the ability to view indoors. This improves security and increases your family’s comfort levels.
  • Looks good.

Obscure

Obscure glass, sometimes called frosted glass, is usually used in bathroom windows. It’s acid-etched or molded into various patterns, which allows light to travel through the glass without being able to see inside.

Benefits include:

  • Everyone wants privacy in the bathroom and showers; obscure glass gives as much privacy as you want while allowing light to enter.
  • Obscure glass filters sunlight without allowing much heat to pass. This works in reverse during winter, reducing the heat lost from the interior. You will feel a reduction in your energy bills, too.
  • Many different patterns are available to please your eye and transform your room.

Gray Tint

It is similar to bronze tint but gray in color. 

  • The tint allows natural light to enter while protecting against ultraviolet light and glare. 
  • Protects furniture and furnishings from sunlight bleaching.
  • Reduces sun glare and reflections on shiny surfaces. However, it allows natural light to enter.
  • Increases your privacy by reducing the ability to view indoors. Thus, it improves security and your family’s comfort.
  • It looks good but is not as stylish as the bronze tint.

Tempered Glass

Tempered glass (or safety glass) is commonly used in many architectural applications, mainly because of its safety, durability, and thermal properties.

With its unique manufacturing process, tempered glass has a mechanical strength up to five times higher than ordinary annealed glass. So, when tempered glass breaks, it shatters into small pebbles, reducing the risk of serious injury, unlike annealed glass.

Even if you don’t want to use tempered glass, your building codes will specify precisely where to install it. 

Tempered ⅝” Flat

Generally, we use 5/8 inch flat tempered glass for glass fences on balconies and decks.

Tempered ¾” Sculptured

This glass comes in thicknesses of 6mm to 19mm or ¼ to ¾”. Manufacturers customize the size to the purchaser’s application as they can’t cut it after production.

Usually, we use it for room dividers, partition glass walls, glass doors, and other similar applications.

Tempered 1″ Sculptured

This thickness of tempered glass is suitable for glass roof canopies, and manufacturers make it to the customer’s application size as they can’t cut it after production.

Choosing The Right Windows For Your Barndominium

Choosing the right windows for your barndominium can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. You must balance your budget, energy efficiency, and appearance to get something that suits you.

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So, here is a list of factors you should consider to get the right window.

R-Value and U-Value

We’ve already explained these two values and how they relate to keeping your barndo cool in summer and warm in winter, so we won’t repeat it.

However, we use R-values when discussing insulated walls, floors, and roofs. In contrast, we use U-values when talking about windows and doors.

To get the best use from your barndo’s energy efficiency, consider your climate zone and follow the R-values and U-values specified for that region.

Fortunately, the local building codes list the necessary values for your barndo’s floors, walls, roof, windows, and doors. 

Style

Whatever windows you choose, they must look good. Therefore, consider the glass type, trim, grid styles, and patterns when looking at what’s available.

It’s amazing what difference the various window patterns make. A well-thought-out window will make all the difference.

Ensure the window trim complements your barndo’s trim. However, you don’t have to use the same color. Instead, choose a color that highlights, complements, or contrasts.

Grid styles and patterns make a big difference, too. Common grid patterns include prairies, colonial, diamond, victorian, and perimeter. It’s up to your preference which one you choose.

Decide whether or not to choose tinted glass. You can limit the light that comes indoors, improve your energy efficiency, and increase your privacy and security.

Alternatively, use frosted or obscured glass to increase privacy without reducing light. Furthermore, if you’ve built a workshop on the first floor, why not use tempered glass to improve safety?

Once again, the choice is yours, so speak to your local window supplier about what is available and the pros and cons of each.

Construction

Choose manufacturers who have been in business for a long time. They know the problems with making a good quality window that lasts many decades and will get it right every time.

Furthermore, decide if you want double or triple glazing to increase your barndo’s energy efficiency. They offer the lowest U-value and can prevent frost buildups when the weather gets cold.

Safety

If you have small children or elderly relatives who are unsteady on their feet, choose safe, tempered, or laminated glass in doors or windows less than three feet from floor level. Consult the local building codes for the specifications you must comply with.

You must also consider a fire exit in each room. For example, The International Residential Code 2021 states that every bedroom must have one window large enough (at least 5.7 sq. ft.) to use for escape or rescue by the emergency services.

For more information, consult UpCodes or ask at your local town hall.

Placement

How do you want your windows to look? Overall, they help make the interior of your barndominium a home to be proud of, providing natural light and ventilation.

Placement consideration is important when designing windows and deserves a more in-depth discussion.

Therefore, if you’re interested in this aspect, look at the next section. 

Window Placement & Design Considerations

Many barndominium owners use window placement to increase natural light within the home, increase the appreciation of the landscape views, and decrease the energy bills by reducing artificial lighting.

Window Placements

So, how do window placements affect the overall ambiance?

East-facing

These windows are great for morning sunlight. Choose them for your bedroom if you like to be awake at dawn.

In contrast, avoid these if you prefer to sleep late.

West-facing

West-facing windows are great if you enjoy sunsets.

The sky’s warm orange tones also create a romantic setting.

North-facing

North-facing rooms don’t receive direct sunlight and are suitable for rooms needing low-intensity and glare-free light. However, you also receive less solar heat from the north, so the room’s purpose will depend on your location in the country.

For example, someone in a southern state like California or Texas will enjoy a north-facing window as a respite from the sun’s heat. In contrast, a barndo in northern states will avoid using a north-facing room, as there will be less passive solar heat gain.

South-facing

South-facing rooms receive direct sunlight all day. However, you will also have glare if you don’t choose the right type of glass.

Generally, architects in northern states use south-facing windows to increase the passive solar heat gain.

Design

As a general rule, leave the placement of windows to architects who design your property. They consider the property’s orientation and the windows’ direction to minimize glare and manage summer heat.

Furthermore, they always place windows and complementary shading structures to enhance and preserve the outdoor view while constantly reducing glare.

Choosing the correct window type for the placement is also a job for the architect.

Bow and Bay Windows

These windows are unusual and add interest to the interior and exterior walls. They project outwards into the outdoors and draw more natural light and space into the room.

Generally, architects use these windows in kitchens or living spaces to create a nook for a shelf or seat space.

Awning and Casement Windows

Awning windows hinge at the top and act like awnings. Therefore, we can open them for ventilation without rain entering the room.

Usually, casement windows have large, uninterrupted glass areas, allowing plenty of natural light and ventilation into the room. Furthermore, they enhance the room’s energy efficiency when closed with an airtight seal.

Single-hung and double-hung windows

These windows slide up and down and don’t extend outside the confines of the frame. Because of this, they provide plenty of ventilation without using valuable space inside or outside.

Modern slider windows can also tilt, allowing ease of cleaning from indoors.

Energy Efficiency & Insulation

Single-glazed windows are widespread in older properties and don’t use modern glazing technology for energy efficiency.

Instead, you should use modern double and triple-glazing units in conjunction with an appropriate glass type, its coatings, the spacers used to keep panes of glass apart, and the gas used between the panes.

Insulated Glass

Insulated glazing has two or three panes (double or triple glazing) hermetically sealed along the edges, with spacers keeping the panes apart.

The space between the panes generally uses a gas, such as argon or sometimes a vacuum, to reduce the heat loss across the panes. These methods save energy by lowering the window’s U-value.

Low-E coatings

Low emissivity coatings, or Low-E, on window glass further reduce the heat transfer through the glass. Typically, windows with a Low-E coating cost 10% to 15% more than those without. But, they reduce heat loss by up to 50%.

Low-E coatings are microscopically thin metallic or metal oxide film bonded to the surface of one of the glass panes. The coating manages the window’s U-value, solar heat gain, and sunlight transference.

Furthermore, you can choose Low-E coatings to cope with various solar gains. So, a barndo experiencing high solar gain will have a different coating from one with low solar gain.

Manufacturers can also tune them to manage varying amounts of daylight transference.

Tips for Proper Window Insulation to Improve Energy Performance

Several methods improve the energy performance of your windows.

Some are relatively expensive and require a sizeable investment, while others cost just a few dollars.

Home Energy Audit

Hire an energy auditor to determine the best way to save money and improve energy efficiency. Then, you get the most from your money without using methods that “overlap” in effectiveness.

Remember, they will also check on the energy efficiency of your entire barndominium, not only the windows. Using an auditor costs around $400, but with a low income, you may qualify for a free audit.

Replace Old Windows

Many older properties still have outmoded single-glazing. If you can afford it, and your windows are over 15 years old, replacing these with double or triple-glazed units is probably the best way to reduce energy usage.

Typically, average window costs vary from $200-$500 each, while installation costs $100-$350 per window.

However, if you prefer better energy-efficient windows, expect to pay $130-$1,200 per window, with installation costs of $200-$800 per window.

Apply Draftproofing

Barndominiums with gaps around exterior doors and windows will either lose or gain hot or cold air, depending on the temperature difference. So, if it’s hot outside, you allow hot air to enter the barndo, increasing the indoor temperature.

In contrast, if it’s cold outside, you lose warm air. Furthermore, the gaps can be between the glass, sash, and frame.

Although you can waste a lot of energy like this by running your HVAC system when not needed, the solution is usually very affordable and only costs a few dollars.

Use caulk and weatherstrip to seal gaps, and you will instantly feel the difference in temperature and see the savings on your energy bill. According to the US Department of Energy, sealing drafts can save up to 10% on energy costs.

Window Treatments & Coverings

Improving window energy efficiency isn’t only about upgrading the windows to glazed units and preventing drafts. You can also install different blinds, shades, and awnings to control solar heat from entering your home.

However, you must appreciate that you may not always want reduced natural light in your barndo. So, you should also consider using a method that helps with your family’s privacy.

Here are just a few of the methods available.

Install Sun Awnings

Install awnings above south-facing windows to reduce the amount of solar gain by up to 65% during summer. If the windows are west-facing, you can reduce heat gain by up to 77%.

Check out the U.S. Department of Energy website for more advice.

Add Drapes, Blinds, and Shades

Adding drapes, blinds, and shades to the windows helps reduce drafts, provides sun protection in summer, and reduces heat loss in winter.

Moreover, window drapes add extra insulation, reducing heat loss by up to 10%. And if you use reflective plastic backings, they prevent up to 33% of solar heat from entering.

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Quality window blinds reduce solar heat by up to 45% but don’t prevent heat loss in winter.

Insulated cellular shades are great if you experience cold winters, as they reduce heat loss by 40%. However, they also reduce solar gain by up to 60%.

Install Exterior Shutters

Installing exterior shutters on your barndo blocks solar heat. Therefore, they’re useful when you live in hotter states.

Solar blinds tend to be made from flimsy materials. But, choosing more robust shutters will protect against strong winds, too.

However, always have them measured and fitted by a professional for best results.

Apply Solar Film to Your Windows

Applying solar film to your window glass blocks up to 99% of ultraviolet radiation into your barndominium and up to 35% of solar heat. Furthermore, solar film can be permanent or temporary.

Using a temporary film is best if you live in a cold winter area, as you can then remove the film to get the advantage of the solar warmth entering your home.

The film costs $8-$15/sq. ft. to buy, and you can install it yourself or ask a professional.

Impact-Resistant & Storm Windows

If you live in regions that suffer from hurricanes, invest in windows with suitable glass to reduce the devastating effects of these tropical storms. However, there is some confusion about whether to install impact-resistant or storm windows.

Furthermore, not many people know the difference, anyway. If you count yourself in this group, read on.

Impact Windows

Impact windows, also known as hurricane windows, have reinforced frames and glass strong enough to withstand the debris impacts from hurricanes.

Unlike ordinary float glass, the glass won’t shatter or be affected by strong winds. 

  • They have layers of impact-resistant, laminated glass.
  • Significant noise reduction
  • Won’t shatter
  • Have frames designed for hurricane-force weather
  • They provide proof against hurricanes and flying debris, but also offer improved security against hammers and other heavy tools.
  • Indistinguishable from regular windows.
  • Available in many colors
  • Several polyvinyl butyral (PVB) layers adhere to the glass, protecting against shatter.
  • Has significant thermal insulation
  • Blocks 99% of ultraviolet radiation

Storm Windows

Storm windows are installed on an existing window.

While they provide significant protection against flying debris and strong winds, they aren’t as protective as impact windows.

  • Added to existing windows
  • Not resistant to airborne debris and will shatter into shards
  • Provides some acoustic insulation, but not as much as impact windows
  • Offers some protection from UV radiation and heat loss
  • Protects against storms and strong winds

Soundproofing Windows

Many people have a noise problem, whether from a freeway in the valley or from an overhead aircraft flight path.

Furthermore, you may have indoor noise that you want to prevent from escaping to the calm, quiet environment outside.

This often happens if your barndo houses machine tools or is the practice venue of a death metal rock band. Whatever the cause, many people have extra noise they want to reduce.

Reducing the sound levels transmitted through windows isn’t difficult if you’re prepared to spend some money.

Probably, the simplest is to fit a window insert. This is a second window fitted behind your existing one. It opens and closes like a regular window, and there’s no need to replace or remove your existing window to install the second.

Fitting a window insert can reduce the unwanted noise by as much as 75%-95%, depending on the window type.

Let’s look at a few ways to soundproof windows.

Window Inserts

If you don’t want to replace your window, install one behind (indoors) your existing ones.

Typically, these cost $250-$500 per window.

Laminated Windows

These windows consist of two sheets of glass with a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) between layers.

They can reduce extraneous noise by up to 75%. Typically, the average costs range from $10-$20/sq. ft. per window.

Double-paned Glass

Also known as double glazing, the hermetically sealed units consist of two panes of glass with nitrogen, krypton, or argon gas between the panes. The average cost ranges from $350 to $850 per window.

Although these aren’t perfect, they’re much better at reducing noise than single-pane windows.

Triple-paned Glass

These are made like double glazing, except they have three glass panes instead of two. Typically, the average price ranges from $400 to $3,500 per window.

On top of buying the window, expect to pay from $100 to $850 per window for installation labor.

Frame Material

Frame material can reduce noise transmission, too.

Solid frames made from aluminum transmit more sound than solid wood or vinyl, which have built-in cavities and foam.

DIY Methods

There are cheaper ways to soundproof your windows.

However, they may not work as well as the more expensive ways mentioned previously.

Acoustic Caulk

Spread this flexible caulk along joints and gaps to prevent sound transmission.

Typically, it costs $15-$100.

Shutters

Exterior shutters can be fitted professionally or as a DIY project over your existing windows.

Typically, the average cost is $75-$350 per window.

Acoustic Curtains

Sound-dampening drapes come in many thicknesses depending on the intensity of the unwanted noise. They absorb sound waves and reduce echoes.

Typically, they cost around $25 to $400 a pair.

Maintenance & Cleaning Tips

Maintaining and cleaning your windows will ensure they last as long as possible and operate as intended.

Here are a few tips to help ensure your windows last as long as possible.

  1. Inspect your windows regularly for damage and dirt. Windows are constantly exposed to the outside world and can be easily damaged.
  2. Clean the windows inside and out. Washing all exposed surfaces with a mild detergent, warm water, and a sponge will remove acids, grit, and mineral deposits that gradually damage the glass and frames.
  3. If you have screens installed, don’t forget to inspect and clean those, too.
  4. During the inspections, look at the frames carefully for new damage. Depending on the frame material, you may need various skills for repair work. If in doubt, hire a handyman or window installer.
  5. Introduce a window maintenance schedule. Then, you won’t postpone the work and forget about it. Clean the window glass and frames once every 2 or 3 months. However, if you live near the sea and experience plenty of salt wind, clean them every month. Check for damage once or twice a year, depending on where you live and what environmental factors prevail.
  6. If your windows slide, keep the tracks clear of garden debris, grit, and sand. Wash with a small nail brush and detergent. After cleaning, lubricate the tracks with a lubricant recommended by the window manufacturer.
  7. Continually watch for drafts through the windows, as those are a sign of a crack in the frame. Gaps allow moisture ingress, leading to mold, mildew, and rot. Also, gaps allow heat to escape from your home, thus increasing your energy bills.
  8. Repair small cracks with caulk. Repair areas that move with weatherstrips. Always clean the area before application.
  9. If you find cracked glass, replace the pane before it becomes worse. 

DIY vs. Professional Window Installation

If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire a professional contractor to repair or replace a window.

Generally, two ways to install windows are hiring a professional contractor or exercising your DIY skills.

DIY

Pros

  • It saves on labor expenses.
  • You work at a pace and a time that suits you.

Cons

  • You need the skill and expertise to know what to do.
  • You don’t get a guarantee or warranty.
  • Many window manufacturers insist on a licensed professional installing their product. Otherwise, their window’s warranty is invalid.
  • You need the correct tools.
  • You must take time off work or do the job at the weekend.

Professional

Pros

  • The contractor replaces the window as quickly as possible, usually when you’re at work.
  • The contractor is an expert and does the work faster than you.
  • You will get a guarantee for the contractor’s labor.
  • The window manufacturer will honor their warranty.
  • The contractor holds insurance.

Cons

  • Professionals charge for their services.

Window Upgrades & Retrofitting

If you’re renovating an existing barn into your dream barn home, seriously consider upgrading and retrofitting new energy-efficient windows. They will last many years and can withstand the weather many states endure.

Furthermore, remember that all towns and counties across the USA follow the 2018 International Code Requirements for Windows and Doors when designing their building codes.

The laws specify the design loads that the windows must be able to withstand, impact resistance, the size of the opening and its height necessary to be used as an emergency escape and rescue opening, and many other specifications.

So, even if the current window doesn’t meet the code, the new one you install must follow the codes to the letter.

Window Manufacturers & Brands

Giving a complete and comprehensive list of good quality window manufacturers would be almost impossible, as so many offer good quality products and services.

The following six companies come from various selected states and produce good-quality windows. But, there are also plenty more.

  1. JELD-WEN, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, operates over 120 manufacturing facilities, making wood, vinyl, and clad frames.
  2. Based in Minnesota, Andersen makes wood, vinyl, composite, fiberglass, and aluminum frames in every conceivable window configuration.
  3. Marvin, based in Minnesota, has three window lines: basic, medium-quality, and high-performance.
  4. Milgard Windows and Doors is based in Washington, California, and Oregon. They specialize in vinyl, fiberglass, and aluminum frames and use all types of glass.
  5. Pella is from Iowa and builds all window types from various materials. 
  6. Ply Gem only sells to professionals and specializes in basic windows using vinyl, aluminum, aluminum clad, and wood composite.

Try to select a window manufacturer local to you, or at least in your state, as shipping costs will usually be lower than from a company many states away. Visit your local DIY stores and see which companies they buy from.

Furthermore, ask a professional contractor whom they use. Professionals may have access to a more comprehensive range of manufacturers than the ordinary Joe. And they probably buy them at a discount, too.

If you use a company producing barndominium kits, ask which company they usually use for their windows.

To Finish

Before choosing your window type, consider the frame material, the window’s appearance, energy efficiency, and the protection it offers you and your family from the natural world.

It’s essential to choose a window that looks good, does the job you want from it, complements the style of your barndominium, and considers the various environmental factors in your area.

For example, if you live in a hurricane state, choose impact windows above any others. Also, don’t forget to use a bronze or gray coating on the glass to reduce solar gain and the amount of UV radiation entering your barndo.

Once you’ve found the right window for your barndominium, it’s time to install it. Although it’s possible to DIY install, we recommend using a professional contractor who is insured and licensed to work in your state.

Only then will you be guaranteed a quality window, properly installed, to make your new barndominium home something to be proud of.

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Adam Marcos

Adam Marcos, a veteran with 25+ years in custom home building, now serves as Managing Editor of BarndominiumZone. He passionately helps people on their journey of creating their dream barndo homes, offering valuable insights and practical advice. With a warm and approachable demeanor, Adam inspires readers to embrace unique living spaces that reflect their aspirations. Join him on a transformative adventure, turning ordinary spaces into extraordinary havens of creativity and fulfillment. Experience the magic of bringing visions to life, one barndo at a time.

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