Seven Disadvantages of Casement Windows

Open Casement Windows on House 482184921
Open Casement Windows on House. Getty / Fotosearch

Why aren't casement windows more widely installed?

Casement windows do seem romantic at first glance, at least compared to the most popular windows out there:  sliders and double-hung windows.  Slider windows open ignobly with a clack.  When the track gets gritty, they can be hard to open and close.  Double-hung windows strain upward (despite your lower back's protestations).  

But casement windows crank open like a door--and with just one hand!  Surprisingly, casement windows--for all their flaws--are considered the second most watertight window you can buy (next to fixed windows).

While they do have their fans, a few things about casements' design puts off a lot of homeowners. Before lurching forward into an expensive casement purchase, think carefully about these aspects:

1.  There Are More Mechanical Parts to Potentially Break

Most casement windows have some sort of crank which you turn to open and close the sash.  Casement window buyers will always, at some point, need to tend to the crank.  Handles break, gears freeze:  time for a new unit.

While a double-hung window may not always be the easiest to open, it is a dead-simple operation. The same can be said of sliders as well.  

2.  Side-By-Side Casements May Conflict With Each Other

Two casement windows installed next to each other in a straight line will conflict only if the swing is reversed. In other words, one window opens to the left, and on that left side is another window opening right. But this is an anomaly; most homeowners and installers will not allow this in the first place.

What can be a problem, though, is when two casements are installed in a corner -- regardless of the direction of the swing.

3.  Conventional A/C Units Will Not Fit...

If you have air conditioner window units, they will not fit in casement windows. Window units fit best in double-hung windows because the sliding sash can close down to seal off the window unit. But casement sashes cannot do this. Not only that, casement window sashes do not open far enough to allow you to install the window unit.

4.  You Spend More on Your Window Unit A/C

Barred from installing cheap window unit A/Cs that run in the low $200 range, you will spend about $620 for a 12,000 BTU unit, such as the Frigidaire Casement/Slider A/C.  

5.  Open Casements Are More Exposed to Elements

Because casements open outward, the edges are exposed to sun, rain, snow, and more. The top edge particularly is exposed and gets weatherbeaten fast. Again, it's easy to rush to judgment and promise that you will religiously close your casement windows prior to the rain, think again.

6.  Casements' Screens Are On the Inside of Your House

Because casement windows' sashes open outward, screens must be on the inside. Do you have kids? Do you have dogs or cats who like to stand on hind legs and look out windows? If so, you can already see the problem here.

7.  Sometimes: Killer Sun Reflection

Because of angle of the opened sash, they can reflect sun directly into the house. This can be good or bad. Good for a gloomy room, when you need an extra spot of light in late afternoon; bad when light blasts into your face like laser beams.

8.  Open Casements Can Break

Be careful not to leave your casement windows accidentally open prior to a big wind storm.  Wind can catch the leading edge of casements and, with a sail-like effect, break them off.

Helping You Decide

Casements are unique and do have their downsides. But if you are considering casements, balance the negatives mentioned above with these positives:

Weathertight: Need a window that prevents air infiltration? The most weathertight window is a fixed window. But the second most weathertight window is a casement. This is because the casement's window seal meets the casement sash straight on. 

Inside screens easier to clean: This is a negative, as mentioned above, but it has a good side. If the window is on the second story or higher, you will appreciate being able to pull out the screen from the inside.

Forces more air into house: The opened sash can act as a kind of chute to help force more breeze into your house. Just make sure that the breezes don't come from the other direction, with the opened sash blocking air from reaching the opened window.