For a purely functional feature, window hardware is surprisingly stylish. The right mix of finish and frame can make your windows demand attention and seamlessly tie into your entire interior aesthetic.
Today, timeless functionality meets modern design and innovation, giving you more ways to meet your needs and match your style.
Types of Window Hardware
When most people think of hardware, they think of one thing: handles. Window handles are typically the most visible piece of hardware. But there are other types of hardware that impact the design — and functionality — of your windows. And it even varies by the type of window.
Sliding sash windows open with one glass panel gliding along a track and stacking in front of the other. But unlike sliding glass doors, sliding windows don’t have a window handle. Instead, there’s a groove to give your fingers a grip to slide the window open.
Single-hung windows and double-hung windows glide open vertically, so a sash lift is needed to get a good grip. Sash lifts look like hardware you’d find on a cabinet or drawer. They may have an open design that allows you to wrap your fingers around a metal bar. Or they can have a closed design where your fingers tuck underneath a curved handle.
Both awning windows and casement windows operate a little differently. They open and close on a hinge. So instead of a traditional handle, there’s a crank that folds out and turns to operate the window.
Window cranks also act as an extra lock. To close a casement or awning completely, you have to turn the crank until the sash is closed, then fold the crank back into place to secure the window in its closed state.
A window crank is simple enough. But there’s new hinged window hardware that provides the same functionality yet addresses two common complaints about hinged windows:
- Crank window hardware is a little cumbersome. The crank has to fold into the hardware, which makes it a bit bulkier than a sash lift.
- Turning a crank can be tiresome. As a window ages and wears, it can get harder to turn the crank — it might even tire you out.
Pella’s exclusive Easy-Slide Operator addresses these two issues by replacing the traditional crank with hardware that works more like a dimmer switch. With minimal effort, you can open and secure your awning or casement window exactly where you want it. With a sleeker design than even modern window cranks, the switch hides discreetly within the window and out of the way of your blinds, shades or curtains.
Every window that opens has a sash lock (also known as a window latch). This keeps the window panel in place when it’s closed to help reduce rattling. Sash window locks also provide security, helping prevent the window from being opened from the outside.
While they function the same, sash locks or latches look a little different depending on the window. On casement, awning and sliding windows, they look like little levers. Flip the lever up to unlock the window and down to secure it. On double-hung or single-hung windows, sash latches come in two styles:
- Spoon-style locks – With a thumb-size lever and an open circle that runs underneath the locking mechanism, these actually look like little spoons.
- Cam locks – Cam-action sash locks are found on everything from front doors to hoses. They look more like the deadbolt on a door or an oversized hand moving across the bottom of a clock.
Sash locks are styled to match the finish of the opening hardware of the window. So if you choose white window handles, you’ll get white window latches. Although you can choose your color, you shouldn’t consider changing it without replacing the latch itself. You might see sash locks painted in a home with older windows, but doing so can make them stick or no longer close securely.
A window stay is a bar that holds a hinged window open and in place — like an arm that extends out from the frame to the sash. In modern windows, the only time you’ll see a window stay is when the window is cranked open. When the window is closed, the arm folds back into the frame.
In historic specialty windows, like push-out or French casements, window stays play a more prominent role. These windows don’t use cranks, so the window stay holds the sash in place right where you want it. The stays have a metal finish, matching the handles that allow you to pull the sashes back in.
Modern Finishes for Window Hardware
Brass and bronze are the traditional choices. But with wood, fiberglass and vinyl windows, now you have many more modern options:
- White window hardware works in modern and farmhouse styles where neutral color palettes contrast from natural wood colors and textures. With dark window frames, white lifts, cranks and locks can really stand out.
- Black window hardware is a great contrast for lighter frames, providing modern elegance. Paired with black window frames, the black-on-black look is subtle yet stylish.
- Chrome window hardware screams modern style. Chrome is a common choice for modern finishes on light fixtures, door handles and faucets. The shiny surface adds to the industrial aesthetic and brightens wood textures.
- Nickel window hardware is another shiny, modern choice. Polished nickel really sparkles while satin nickel offers a softer look.
When styling your modern windows, don’t overlook the impact of the hardware. You might think modern is minimalist, but even the smallest details can make a big difference.