Do Picture Windows Open?

Picture windows help you view the scenery outside without the risk of drafts. You can put them anywhere around the house where you would want to appreciate the view better. However, if you're still unsure whether to get them, you might be wondering whether they open or not. We have researched answers for you.

Picture windows do not swing or slide open. Their main purpose is to let you appreciate the view outside as if they're a live picture--hence, their name. They are typically larger than windows that open, but they do not have hinges or opening mechanisms. They are completely sealed, so there is no risk of heat seeping out of or into your home. 

Picture windows have their share of pros and cons, but it all boils down to how you maintain them. There are also options if you want a window that does open. Keep reading below to learn more about picture windows, as well as other windows that may fit your lifestyle better.

What Are Picture Windows?

Picture windows are slim, non-opening windows that have been directly sealed so that the singular glass pane can let in natural light and offer an unobstructed view of the scenery, like a framed photo.

Picture windows are typically installed in an area that has a good and refreshing view to improve the interior's aesthetics. Location is one of the most crucial aspects of a picture window.

They complement all interior designs, but they are ideal for minimalist and contemporary spaces because of their sleek appearance.

Picture windows also offer good insulation since they are designed to be immovable, reducing the risk of drafts and inconsistent indoor climate.

Read: 31 Kitchen Window Decorating Ideas That Will Inspire You

View from picture window in small, economic room

How Much Do Picture Windows Cost?

Picture windows typically cost less than casement or movable windows, usually costing between $420 to $800, exclusive of labor.

It is best to hire a professional contractor to install your picture windows since you wouldn't want to deal with gaps later on, which could ruin your insulation and indoor temperature. Labor will cost you around $40 per hour. Inquire a local contractor for a direct quotation.

Of course, the overall cost of your picture window will depend on the size you intend to have. The average size of picture windows is around 72 inches on all sides.

Advantages of Picture Windows

Picture windows have a lot of visual and functional benefits that you can enjoy in your home. Here's a quick rundown of how it can improve your lifestyle.

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Provides Scenic View

Picture windows offer a scenic view of the outside, which is ideal if you live in the city and want an unobstructed view of the city's skyline. If you live in the countryside, you can have a tranquil view of nature that can instantly relax you.

Access to Natural Light

These windows don't have grills that can create shadows during the golden hour. This means that your home can be bathed in natural light during the day, which can help save on utility costs since you won't have to switch the lights on.


Since picture windows are sealed directly into the opening, there's no chance of air escaping or seeping inside--but only if it's been installed correctly.

Picture windows prevent air or water leaks, making your home more secure and energy-efficient. There's less risk of damage, especially during strong weather patterns since it's sealed around the edges.


Since you will only have to deal with a full glass window, there won't be any debris or dirt stuck on the hinges or corners of grills, unlike swinging or sliding windows. This makes them easier to clean, which leads to better scenic views.

Disadvantages of Picture Windows

Of course, no window is virtually perfect. There's always a catch, and you just have to weigh whether the pros outweigh the cons--these will depend on your lifestyle and routine. Here are some issues you should look out for if you're planning to have picture windows.

No Ventilation

If you prefer your windows to be able to open, picture windows may not be for you. Picture windows don't have ventilation since all the edges are sealed, so there is no chance even of an air leak. Picture windows won't be able to let in the fresh air, nor could you air out a room if it feels stale.

Fragile Unless Shatterproof

Unless you're using shatterproof glass, picture windows--or any window for that matter--may be prone to damage especially during extreme weather patterns.

Make sure to talk to your contractor about how to strengthen your glass windows. They most likely will recommend applying shatterproof films or tempered glass.

Casement Window vs. Picture Windows -- Which Is Better?

Unlike picture windows, casement windows have hinges which makes them operable. They can be opened and closed, they have thicker frames both on the inside and outside.

They blend well with almost all home designs, but they have thick frames and mechanisms that can partially block parts of your view. Even if you open them, you may still not have a full view of the scenery.

In terms of insulation, both casement and picture windows are equipped with mechanisms to prevent air leaks. However, casement windows can be prone to gaps and air leaks since it's not as sealed as picture windows.

If you prefer your windows to open and provide ventilation, casement windows may be a better option for you. Just make sure to maintain them well and have them checked by competent contractors occasionally to retain your home's energy efficiency.

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Exterior of a townhouse with bricks and wooden siding. Do Picture Windows Open

Are Picture Windows In Style?

Picture windows can be considered a timeless fixture, and they have been around for a long time. They maximize the view outside, and you can always choose to either leave it open or cover it with window treatments. They have a sleek appearance, and they make a room look wider.

Because of this, they can make a normal room look effortlessly elegant. The natural light and scenic view that these windows provide are a statement in themselves, making them a sought-after fixture.

Glass Block Windows vs. Picture Windows -- Is There A Difference?

Like picture windows, glass block windows are sealed into the edges so your home can be insulated well. However, glass block windows have an almost opaque appearance to maintain privacy, so you can't look at the scenery nor can other people peep inside the house.

Glass block windows allow natural light inside the house, which will make your space look golden and cozy during late afternoons.

Glass block windows are also ideal if you want to save on electricity since you won't have to open the light in seldom-used rooms around the house. They also offer security since the material is made of masonry, which means it can't be shattered or removed.

Other Windows That Open

If you want windows that swing or slide open, there are other alternatives to casement windows. You can't get glass blocks or picture windows since they are not operable. Here are options you can look into.

Awning Windows

Awning windows open outwardly. This window is ideal if you live in an area that experiences long stretches of rainy weather, but still want to air out a stale room occasionally. Light rain won't be able to enter your home since it will slide through the surface while providing ventilation.

Awning windows can also act as a faux-picture window when it's closed since they can still offer an unhindered view of the scenery outside.

Double Hung Windows

Double-hung windows are operable on both the top and the bottom. This window is ideal if you want to maximize your ventilation, and if you want a window that's technically easier to clean since you can maneuver it while wiping or washing the window's interior and exterior parts.

Double-hung windows also have an aesthetically pleasing appearance, making them match any interior design. Since this window has more hinges and mechanisms, you need to pay attention to them and maintain them well so they don't get damaged and risk having air leaks.

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White living room interior with lamp and green landscape in picture window. Do Picture Windows Open

Final Thoughts

Picture windows are visually pleasing and functionally beneficial fixtures, but it's not for everyone. If you want a window that opens, there are a lot of options available in the market. As always, make sure you choose a window that matches your routine and complements your style.

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