When you’re planning to build a new shed, one important consideration is whether or not to put in a window. Windows are often almost overlooked in the planning of a shed, with the decision limited to “do we or don’t we” need shed windows.
Actually, a window can serve more than one purpose in a shed if care is taken to consider the planned use of the shed. In addition, there are many styles and materials available.
When choosing a shed window, consider its placement, size, if it will open and if you need it to be a double sealed window.
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4 Tips When Choosing Windows for Your Shed
Once you’ve decided that you want a window or two in your shed, you need to consider a few other things. You need to know how you are most going to use your shed. If you are going to spend a lot of time in the shed, a window can be a great help. In addition, it doesn’t hurt to get an attractive window that will go with your house.
*Function – Windows come in two basic types: functional and non-functional. The difference is that functional windows open, while non-functional ones do not. If you live in an area that’s prone to break-ins, you might want to invest in a non-opening window with a material for the panes that’s hard to break.
If that’s not a consideration, it’s never a bad idea to have a window to allow fresh air to circulate in your shed. If that’s what you want, be sure to get one with an outer screen so as to allow air in while keeping out the bugs.
In addition, you’ll want to consider how you plan to use your shed. If you plan to do woodworking, repair work or other work that means spending a lot of time in the shed, a window can not only get fresh air wafting to you but also provide natural light.
If this is the case, you’ll want to consider windows on the larger side or perhaps plan for more than one. This is important if you don’t want to go to the expense of running electricity to the shed. In addition, the windows will help you keep an eye on the kids while you’re working.
If you plan to use the shed as a potting shed, especially if you want to start garden vegetables, shed windows are a must. They’ll let the sunlight in to keep the shed warmer in early spring and of course, the plants will need natural light to sprout and grow. If you plan to use it as a quiet office space, you might want the same kind of windows as you have in your home.
*Style – Many people want their shed windows to match the ones in their home, or at least not clash with them. You can let your creativity show through with round, oval, or diamond-shaped windows. Smaller models that don’t open can even be combined to create a unique look. Even plainer windows can be dressed up with decorative framing or shutters.
Shed windows don’t have to be just stuck into the wall. You can get attractive round or octagonal windows to set into the gable ends. You can also have a row of short transom windows running just under the roof on the higher side of a shed with a single-sloped roof or above the door.
These provide light while staying out of reach of potential burglars. Some people choose surprisingly decorative windows for their sheds, such as those with arched tops, especially if the shed is a “she-shed” or also serves as extra entertainment space or a separate office space.
Sliding windows are also available in various sizes. You can get one that’s big enough to let in light and air but would be a pretty tight squeeze for anyone trying to break in. Most of them come complete with a screen. Most come with a locking mechanism as well.
As far as materials, most of the windows you’ll find in the big box stores come with vinyl frames. Aluminum framing is a little more expensive but also sturdier.
*Security – Windows that don’t open are a good first line of defense to protect your shed while letting in plenty of light. Another way to protect your shed is to get windows with frosted glass.
This will let in light while keeping anyone from peeking in and seeing what you have. Burglars may go elsewhere rather than risk breaking into a shed and finding out that there’s nothing they want in there. They’d rather scout out the candy store first.
Besides sliding windows, another kind that can’t be entered is hopper windows or those that slant inward from the top on a hinge. Many of these come complete with screens as well, and they have the benefit of being easy to clean. A similar type that opens from the bottom is called an awning window.
Of course, there are the usual single-hung and double-hung windows. A single hung window opens only on the bottom. The double-hung window opens from the top as well, but of course, is more expensive. You’ll probably only need a single-hung window for a shed.
*Types of Glass – This is an important consideration when choosing a window. As mentioned previously, frosted or otherwise obscured glass can let in light while keeping your goodies from being evaluated by a potential burglar.
Tempered glass is glass that has been annealed and has been subjected to a special cooling process when the glass is first formed, giving it extra strength. However, it needs to then be tempered, as annealed glass tends to form sharp shards when it is broken. The tempering process quadruples the strength. Much of the glass used in vehicles is tempered glass.
Double- or triple-paned windows often come with argon gas between the panes and are sold as insulated glass. This airspace creates a barrier between outside and inside temperature differences. If you live in a cold or very hot climate, this would be a good option.
While they contain a substance that keeps moisture forming between the panes, their seals sometimes degrade with age, causing air, moisture, and dust to get between the panes. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen until the windows are ten to twenty years old or more, depending on the type.
What Is the Purpose of a Shed Window?
Shed windows do more than let in convenient, free light. The airflow most provide is very important. With a window to let air blow through and out through gable or roof vents when the shed is closed, it should take care of keeping moisture out of your shed and the nasty problem that come with it, such as rot, mold and mildew. Having a sturdy, insulated window will keep out drafts and cold air during winter.
Where to Put a Window in Your Shed
You can put a window in any place you want. If you have a designated space to do certain work, having a window nearby would be a plus as long as it’s on the side that will let in light. If you want to sprout plants in the shed, you’ll need a window or a bank of them near your sprouting space.
Putting one on the opposite side of the shed to the door allows air to blow all the way through when the shed door is open. If you have a tall, pitched roof and use the attic space for storage, you might want a window at one or both ends of the gables to help you see what you’re doing up there.
Your climate and the way the shed faces will also play into this decision. If you live in a hot environment, you don’t want a window letting in the sun’s heat all day. Likewise, if you live in a place with cold winters, you don’t want that north wind blowing against it all winter. If it’s on the side of the shed that stays mostly shady, it’s not going to let in much light and won’t do you much good.
How to Choose the Right Window for Your Shed
Again, considering what you will use the shed for is important as far as placement. If you don’t anticipate doing any projects in your shed that will affect placement, then ventilation is a good consideration. If you live in a higher crime area, you might consider putting in a row of smaller windows that would be too high up to allow entrance but will still provide light.
Will a Skylight Work as a Window?
A skylight can work as a window in that it will let in light. Most don’t open, however, so they don’t contribute to the shed’s ventilation.
Skylights also need to be put into the roof and do need to be installed carefully to avoid leaks. In addition, if your shed is partially under a tree, you want to make sure that no falling limbs will break or crack the skylight. A well-placed jolt may not crack the material, but it can jar loose the sealant around the skylight, letting in moisture.
A slow leak may not even be noticeable unless the leak goes through your roof to the shed interior, but it can let moisture seep underneath your roofing material, causing damage to your roof sheathing before you know it. Check out my article How to Install a Skylight in a Shed for more information on installing a skylight in a shed.
Shed Door Windows
Windows as part of the shed doors are a good way to save space if you have a small shed. The most common are long and narrow transom windows fitted near the top of the door. They can also add to the light that comes from any other window you may have in the shed and provides light from an extra direction as the sun moves throughout the day.
They also are too high up and too small to allow access from a thief. Since these are not exactly commonplace, they add that extra touch to the look of the shed and may well heighten the value of your property when you want to sell.
Most of these windows, however, do not open and will not provide that extra airflow. They will give you an extra way to keep an eye on things outside but are usually too small to provide a wide view. Since most shed doors are wider than normal home doors, many people build them or have them built. Pre-built sheds from a dealer will usually have slightly smaller doors than a house or come with double doors.
Pre-built sheds with windows in the doors are not the norm, but it’s not hard to install some models of windows in the doors yourself. Of course, if you have someone building a shed for you or order one from a builder, you can specify a door with a window. You can also use some solar lighting for more light, check out my article 4 Tips for Choosing a Solar Shed Light for help.
How to Frame a Window in a Shed
Once you have your window chosen, you’ll need to cut a hole in the siding and build a frame for the window around it. This needs to be done carefully, as any window will have problems opening and closing properly if the frame is a little crooked.
Unless you choose a pretty small window, you’ll have to move at least one of your wall studs to create space. You need a space between studs that’s the thickness of two wall studs and the width of the window, leaving around 1/2 inch for wiggle room. Of course, the easiest way to do this is to plan for and frame the window while you’re building the wall frame.
If your shed is already built, you’ll need to remove part of the stud by using a reciprocating saw equipped with a metal cutting blade to cut through the nails at the top and bottom of your planned space, then run the saw down the length to cut the siding nails. Be sure to use a level to make sure it’s plumb.
You’ll need to install a 2- 2×6 as a header to keep the weight of the roof off the window. If you want the top of the window and your door to be the same height, make sure that the header is installed with the bottom edge even with the top of the door. Make sure your header is level.
Nail side studs onto the inside faces of the wall studs to form your frame. These studs support the header, with the bottom plate for the window being toe-nailed to them. The sill must be level and should allow an extra ½ inch in the height of the opening. You’ll need to cut the siding to fit the opening.
One tip is to drive screws through the siding from inside on each corner, then use these to pencil an outline, using a straight edge. Cut with a circular saw, then finish the corners with a jigsaw. Screw the siding to your new frame. The window itself should come with installation instructions to help you finish.
Here’s a helpful video on framing a shed window.
Here’s a video on adding a window into a shed.
These days there are plenty of options when choosing shed windows. You may just get an idea or two once you start looking at what’s available. Just keep your shed’s purpose and surroundings in mind and you’ll do fine.