Building and Construction, V4I1

Looking In

J-channel windows allow trim or siding to slide in to hide the frame.

Most builders have a standby window that they add into most any shed to provide some amount of natural lighting, perhaps ventilation, and certainly an aesthetic that mimics the main house on the lot.

But now’s the time to get familiar with all of your options, as homeowners are increasingly attracted to, and requesting, new style options to match their house’s aesthetic and to fit in a new
range of backyard structures.


Typically, shed builders are focused on price and simplicity when it comes to the windows they stock.

The aluminum window is most popular in the shed industry.

“The bulk of our window sales would be the old single-pane aluminum window, just because it’s cost-effective,” says Justin Burnett, sales manager for MIDCO Building Products, a shed window
supplier based in Mayfield, Kentucky. “Especially your volume builders will prefer the cheaper window because just a few dollars difference is still a lot of money on several thousand buildings.”

“Size wise, our most popular window is what we call a 2 by 3 flush,” says Rick Trainor, president and CEO of Ryan-Al Door Systems headquartered in Diamond Bar, California, which manufactures
its windows under its American Shanty brand.

“The standard aluminum shed window is the widely popular used window in the industry,” adds Shane Hartman, who works in purchasing and sales for WEH Supply in Denver, Pennsylvania. “What size window is most popular is a harder question. It would really depend on what type of building they are constructing to properly suggest a size. Different parts of the country have much different styles.”

Of course, there are more styles of backyard structures now, which drives demand for new styles of windows. From elaborate playhouses to greenhouses to chicken coops and more, windows are
being installed in more places than ever.

But there are a number of options to consider when selecting windows for your shed, and the options continue to increase as shed style evolves.

Here’s an introduction to styles:

• Fixed windows cannot be moved, and merely provide natural lighting and aesthetic appeal, rather than ventilation.
• Single-hung windows have two vertical sashes (the portion of the window that sits within the frame and holds the glass), the bottom of which can be freely moved up and down.
• Slider windows have one or more sashes that slide horizontally within the frame.
• Jalousie windows are made up of several overlapping horizontal pieces of glass that share a single frame. When the operator turns a crank, the glass pivots so that each bottom edge swings
out. It’s a low-profile option for maximizing ventilation.
• Double-hung windows, similar to the windows found in most houses, have two vertical sashes, both of which can be freely moved up and down.
• Casement windows are hinged so that they open in or out from the side. The windows are cranked open, rather than sliding to the side.
• Awning windows have hinges at the top so that the glass projects outward at the top of the unit.

Then you have your decorative options, for which window suppliers say they’re seeing increasing demand:

• Transom windows are designed to sit within their own frame above another door or window. They may be operable but typically are a decorative element.


Octagon windows are best
suited as a decorative

• Octagon windows, as you might imagine, are small, eight-sided, fixed windows that are best suited as decorative elements.

• Sunburst windows are a half-circle window installed over a door or window, with radiating bars.• Arch top windows are, as the name applies, windows with a rounded top.
• Chicken coop windows, not something you’ll see from a standard home window manufacturer, typically have a wire screen that allows operators to ventilate the coop, while still providing protection to the chickens.

These decorative options are becoming increasingly popular as shed styles move increasingly toward backyard structures that imitate the aesthetic of the house.

For example, Trainor says, “Transoms are becoming more and more popular in the shed market. They’re in the housing market now, but it’s starting to transition over to the shed market, as things normally do.”

In fact, Dave Often, general manager of Apple Fasteners in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, finds, “Vertical slider windows are by far the biggest seller, followed by transom-style windows. The most popular window that everyone should carry is an 18 by 27 or 24 by 36 white/brown flush or j-lap window.”

Flush-mount windows lay smooth with the building, and trim is installed on top of the window flange. On the j-lap, or j-channel mount, the glass protrudes slightly because three is a channel built onto the window to allow siding or trim board to slide in.

As Thomas Slack, operations manager for Shed Windows and More Inc. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, explains, “Flush mount is typically used for OSB, LP SmartSide®, and T1-11 siding because the window is flush with the flange, and then a lot of people place trim on top of it. What that does is give your window a recessed look. J-channel windows are typically usedfor vinyl or metal siding … You can use that channel to actually place your trim in so it hides the frame. What that does is take your window from a recessed look to a finished look, so it gives it a completely different style.”

“Another window that is popular now is an octagon gable window,” Burnett adds. “It’s a little decorative option for gables.”


And there are still more options to consider when offering window products: material and installation style.

Aluminum, vinyl, and wood are the typical options, although aluminum still rules when it comes to shed windows. Trainor notes that Ryan-Al sees demand almost entirely for aluminum frames.

“Some go other avenues but probably 90 percent is aluminum,” he says.

However, that, too, may be changing.

“Over the past five years we’ve seen a huge trend toward vinyl windows and more high-end vinyl windows,” Burnett says. The reason behind this shift is a slightly higher performing product. “The vinyl window is double-paned and it’s insulated— the gas trapped between the panes is an insulation. A lot more people are doing tiny homes or finishing sheds out, so they want it insulated.”

This is a demand that Ryan-Al sees as well.

“We are working on some insulated windows for the shedmarket. It’s usually just a single-pane window right now, but we have more customers requesting insulated windows,” Trainor says.

Trainor is quick to note that any insulation provided by a shed window typically will not be the same as the performance found from a window built by a manufacturer who targets homes. With shed windows, cost has always been the chief consideration and the trend toward outfitting sheds as workshops or man caves isn’t going to change that.

“These are very cheaply made windows and for insulation value probably not your best option,” Trainor says. “We really try to tighten ours up so they’re as wind-free as possible. We’re definitely
the tightest out there in the market, but you’ve got to take it for what it’s worth.”rated for insulation, and all our double- paned windows are tempered glass, just like every other window we sell.”

When it comes to the glass, most shed windows will likely use standard annealed glass, if not an acrylic or polycarbonate plastic sheet in lieu of glass. However, safety, or tempered, glass is an
option particularly in demand for products like playhouses. Tempered glass is specially fabricated so it is stronger than annealed glass and, if broken, it crumbles into small, rounded fragments
that are less likely to harm an active child at play (annealed glass breaks into shards that could present a danger).

Suppliers like Apple Fasteners also feature safety glass in their transom windows as this can be a requirement for areas around doors, depending on the height of the window.


In 2018, Shed Windows and More is working to develop new decorative options for playhouses and more specialty backyard structures.

More styles of backyard structures have given rise to more styles of windows.

“One of the things that everyone who makes a playhouse has asked for is beautiful windows,” Slack says. “In 2018, I have brand-new, hand-cut glass going in our solid aluminum frames.”

He notes that the company is also working with a stained-glass artist to develop high-end decorative options.

In addition, the company is looking to supply a broader range of sizes to meet the continued demand for custom buildings.

“I have some unique sizes, like our 21 by 27. I also have brand-new sizes that people have been begging for, like a 20 by 30, a 21 by 36, and 10 by 48 transom,” Slack says.

Other shed window suppliers note that there are plenty of style options, and now most have their sights set on developing performance options.

In 2018, Apple Fasteners has plans to increase its presence in vinyl-clad windows by adding new sizes and styles. Vinyl- clad windows are increasingly popular among homeowners due to their low
maintenance and an aesthetic that continues to improve, even mimicking the look of wood.

As MIDCO sees increasing demand for flush-mount vinyl windows, the company plans to introduce this option in early 2018.

In addition to its forthcoming insulated offerings, Ryan-Al is working to meet the stringent building requirements around hurricane-prone areas.

“We’re working on meeting coastal building codes. You’ll get [demand for] that around the Gulf Coast and the Florida coast,” Trainor says.

But as Trainor points out, consumers looking to fit out a tiny home or year round workshop should be pointed in another direction.

As he puts it, “If you want something that looks like a window, we have it. But if you want something with a big function to it, that’s not something that’s in the shed market right now—although it
probably will be.”


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