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Sliding Windows: What they are and When to Choose Them

11 October 2022

Sliding windows are the ideal solution for those who want modern, bright and functional homes. This article is dedicated to everything you need to know about sliding windows: when to choose them, features, types, pros and cons.

When choosing a window frame, we must also understand how we want it to function. There are different types of products and among them, sliding windows are an elegant, modern, practical and attractive solution. They are the ideal complement for large houses that want to look out onto views in a continuity of environments, but also for smaller houses where space needs to be optimised.

In any case, it is essential to choose sliding windows that combine aesthetic appeal with maximum functionality and efficiency in terms of insulation and security.

What is a sliding window and how it works

Sliding windows open by means of a horizontal movement of one or more sashes. In other words, they are opened and closed by sliding along a track. Sliding windows such as sliding patio doors are usually installed to access balconies2, verandas or gardens, creating spatial continuity between the house and the outside environment.
Their main characteristic is the maximum exploitation of the wall surface, which allows for the creation of very large glazings giving greater brightness to the rooms.

In addition, the sliding system allows you to gain space in depth: unlike casement windows, they do not have an inward-opening sash and are therefore ideal to be installed where space is at a premium, for example in the kitchen – where every work surface can be valuable – or wherever you do not want to interfere with the arrangement of furniture.

All in all, sliding windows are types of window frames that provide a great aesthetic effect, with a high level of brightness and the possibility of reducing the boundaries between the house and its surroundings; other keywords relating to windows are freedom of movement, liveability of space and practicality.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows and thermal-acoustic insulation

Although the choice of a sliding window depends very much on aesthetic and design requirements, one must in any case make sure to also consider the technical aspect of the product. Talking about how a sliding window works, we have seen that it often has large glass surfaces: these are ideal for illuminating the room in the best possible way but, at the same time, they must guarantee excellent thermal and acoustic insulation for the window to be considered effective in terms of performance.

The frame material counts: thermal break aluminium, in particular, provides adequate insulation in itself, ensuring that condensation does not form and that the temperature inside the house is always as desired. In large areas such as sliding windows and balcony doors, however, the choice of glass also counts a lot. It is better to opt for double or triple glazing, which only minimises brightness but provides much better thermal and acoustic insulation. The most modern technologies in the sector have also made it possible to market special glass, for example selective or photochromic glass, which automatically regulates the amount of solar energy – in terms of light and heat – that enters the room: these are obviously more expensive solutions, but should be seriously considered for sliding windows that occupy very large areas and are south-facing in particularly hot locations.

Finally, by turning to professionals in the sector, you will be able to obtain accurate information on which sash closing and sliding mechanisms are best suited to guarantee excellent insulation. The installation of the product also counts a great deal: thanks to its long experience and certifications guaranteeing its competence, METRA Building ensures a flawless installation of the sliding window, which will therefore not give any problems in terms of insulation and general performance.

Sliding windows and security

When imagining large sliding windows, the issue of security immediately comes to mind: a large part of the window, and of the wall to the outside of the house, is made of glass, and this may make tenants feel less safe.

Fortunately, sliding windows and balcony doors can be strengthened with a number of elements to enhance their security. These anti-burglary measures should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, also depending on the risk level of the house and the desired level of security: burglar-proof locks and burglar-proof glass are essential. Finally, the use of aluminium for the frame guarantees greater security than PVC.

Types of sliding windows

The frame and structure of a sliding window always remain the same, but there are different mechanisms that move the sashes. Depending on these mechanisms, sliding windows can be in-line, sliding and lifting. There are also other solutions, such as concealed sliding windows that disappear within a cavity in the wall.

In any case, the type of opening is not a minor detail. Each type of sliding window can provide different performance, aesthetics, manoeuvring effort, security and air permeability. The choice of one mechanism over another depends on one’s needs in terms of style, aesthetics, space and budget. The best solution is to seek personalised advice from industry professionals such as METRA Building.

Here is an overview of the main types of sliding window openings.

In-line sliding window

In-line sliding windows are the most classic and traditional, the first type of sliding window in chronological order. In this case, the operation is quite simple and intuitive: the sliding sash(es) slide smoothly along a fixed track to which they are attached.

In-line sliding frames are usually priced lower than the other types and, as an advantage, allow the possibility of sliding all the window sashes, not just one, on two parallel tracks: this would still maintain an opening equal to half of the total frame, as is normal, but would still allow greater freedom of use.

Lifting sliding window

In this case, it is an evolution of the in-line frame, of which it retains the aesthetic appearance but improves the performance, which is why it is the most popular sliding window modality today.

How does the lift-and-slide window work? According to a ‘lift and slide’ mechanism: when you turn the handle to open the window, the sash lifts slightly and slides smoothly along the track. When you then wish to close the window and turn the handle again to close it, the sash lowers again, fitting snugly against the gasket and thus ensuring truly excellent insulation performance. As the sash is raised when sliding, in fact, there is no need for brushes, but it is possible to use a real seal, which is obviously more efficient in terms of insulation and air passage.

The lift-and-slide window is very comfortable and easy to handle; thanks to this system, the sliding window also has a longer average lifespan and requires less maintenance, because the sash does not constantly burden the sliding mechanisms.

Furthermore, by inserting an appropriate mechanism, ventilation and security can be guaranteed at the same time; by keeping the lock locked, it is possible to open the door a few millimetres to allow air to pass through.

Sliding Windows

Aluminium sliding windows: the best performing solution

Sliding windows can be made from the most common materials: aluminium, wood and PVC. Each of these materials has positive and negative aspects, but aluminium is certainly the material of choice for making sliding windows and balcony doors that are elegant, practical and easily adaptable to any architectural and design style.

First of all, aluminium supports very wide glazing more easily than other materials, even without the use of additional supports. Then there are countless advantages of aluminium: among other things, it is an ultra-durable material, able to last even twice as long as PVC, very easy to clean and maintain. It lends itself well to the construction of sliding or lifting windows, because it can be raised and moved very easily, making the opening of the sashes lighter. Thanks to the thermal break, it guarantees excellent thermal and acoustic insulation in itself, thus helping to lower energy consumption.

Finally, aluminium is the best choice also from two other points of view. First of all, accessibility: thanks to its generally thinner profiles compared to other materials, the thresholds of aluminium patio doors are lower, thus allowing greater freedom of movement for children, wheelchairs and people with walking difficulties. Secondly, eco-sustainability: an indispensable feature also for windows and doors, aluminium sliding windows are made of a metal of natural origin, absolutely non-toxic and recyclable an infinite number of times.

Pros and cons of sliding windows

There are various pros and cons of sliding windows, but these also depend very much on the needs of the individual customer. Depending on these, it will be necessary from time to time to opt for a sliding window or a casement window: there is nothing to prevent choosing different solutions for different rooms in the house, in favour of greater convenience.

Sliding windows: advantages

The main advantage of sliding windows and balcony doors is certainly that they can provide even very large glass surfaces, flooding the house with natural light; this is all the more useful in smaller houses, which need brightness and reduce the clear boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces. By installing large sliding windows, one can even create entire glass walls or curtain walls, creating a continuity solution that is well suited to the most contemporary and elegant homes.

Sliding windows are also ideal in houses with limited space, where opening the casement of casement windows may require too much manoeuvring space. The sliding window is therefore ideal for optimising available space, allowing interior design solutions that would not otherwise be possible.

Finally, sliding windows are very practical and handy, easy to clean and maintain, and always have an aesthetically pleasing presence. Since there are no sashes that open inwards, it will be possible to choose blinds and curtains of the type that suits one’s taste, without worrying about whether or not the window itself is easy to open.

Sliding windows: disadvantages

Sliding frames do not really have many disadvantages.

The main disadvantage is related to the minimum dimensions that the compartment in which they will be installed must have. When the square footage of the walls is very small and the area to be used for French windows and doors is limited, it is better to opt for casement window solutions as sliding windows require a space twice the size of the desired opening.

This also applies to those who want a window or balcony door that can open in bottom-hung mode, in order to provide more practical ventilation in the house: such an opening is only possible with tilt-and-turn windows.

Speaking of which, a final detail to pay close attention to is the ability of the sliding window to comply with current laws regarding ventilation in the home. Casement windows open fully and therefore never create any problems; in the case of sliding windows, where often it is only one of the sashes that can open, it is necessary to ensure that the ventilation area is sufficient to make the house compliant. In this case, it is essential to rely on your designer or even your trusted window and door fitter, such as METRA Building, who will be able to offer the best advice on the matter.

METRA Building Sliding Windows and Doors

METRA Building guarantees the quality of a product that combines aesthetics with the highest level of technology in the industry. The combination of the large glazing and the aluminium material, with its clean and essential lines, guarantees the entry of more natural light, making the home always comfortable and bright.

METRA Building sliding windows move on 2 or 3 tracks, guarantee maximum thermal-acoustic insulation, and are prepared for the possible use of home automation to make the home even more modern and functional. They are assisted by original accessories available in different finishes, and can be customised with the most varied colours to best suit the architectural style and personality of the home.

METRA Building sliding windows and balcony doors are available in different lines, and are also well suited for curtain walls due to the possibility of large glazing. Also available is the Aluminium-Wood Line, which best combines the warmth of wood with the solidity of aluminium.

Applicable for both casement and sliding openings, Aluminium-Wood windows and doors are frames with the outer side made of aluminium with unlimited finishes and the inner side covered with a thick layer of natural wood, which can be chosen from a variety of woods.
The performance of this line is extraordinary: perfect tightness, resistance, non-deformability, acoustic insulation, water tightness, resistance to air, saltiness and aggressive weathering, and zero maintenance. In addition, the thermal break guarantees maximum energy savings. Performance is also enhanced by high levels of burglar-proof security, perfect opening and closing mechanics, burglar alarm provision, and provision for home automation.

Sliding windows: when to choose them

It is a solution that satisfies most requirements in terms of performance, practicality and aesthetics. Sliding windows are often mentioned in trade magazines, as they give the room an aura of sophistication and elegance.

Sliding windows are ideal for every style and setting: they can be chosen to access the small balconies of city houses, to build large glazed walls in ultra-modern apartments, as well as for more comfortable access to the outdoors of a country house. By choosing the most suitable finishing solutions, starting with the colour, the type of handle and the aluminium material that provides a truly sophisticated aesthetic touch, it is possible to adapt the style of the sliding window to any type of house.

Ultimately, in order to understand how and when to choose sliding windows, it is always a good idea to start from one’s own design requirements and desires in terms of aesthetics. Sliding windows are certainly suitable for those who have large wall surfaces but not huge spaces for easy opening of the sash; for those who, moreover, want as much light as possible and natural continuity between the inside and outside of their home.

By getting in touch with METRA Building you can start to get an idea of all possible solutions.