What is the Difference Between a Picture Window and a Stationary Window?

Stationary WindowIf you are replacing your windows or building a new home from scratch, dealing with the technical jargon can be heavy going. If you are looking at windows, you might be wondering what the difference is between a picture window and a stationary window. Here, we try to explain some of the terms you will encounter to make your job of improving your home a little bit easier.

The Language of Energy Efficiency


The U-factor or U-value of a window is a measure of heat transmission, or how much heat escapes through the window in winter, according to Green Home Guide. It takes into account both the pane of glass and the frame. Generally, the lower the U-factor, the better.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

This is a measure of the sun’s energy that passes through the window. This is where proper sizing and fitting comes into play. Get this right, and your windows will allow the sunshine come in during the cold months and reflect it during the summer time.

Low-E Glass

E is for emissivity. Low-E glass has a coating that restricts heat loss. This is completely different from laminated glass, which is a layered to hold the glass together and resist breakage.

Fixed Versus Operable

An operable window is one that you can open and close, while a fixed window is one that is fixed in the closed position. In terms of energy efficiency, there is surprisingly little to separate them. Where fixed windows do have an edge, though, is in maintenance.

Fixed windows are easier to clean, do not allow drafts, and they offer a better view. They are also much safer on floors above ground level. The only potential down side might be if you decide to sell your home; prospective buyers might prefer windows that open and close.


According to Jeld-Wen,a¬†picture window is a type of fixed window. It has all the same characteristics of a fixed window and shares all the same differences with operable windows. You would place a picture window inside a wall where air ventilation isn’t a consideration. You would also place it where you want to showcase a lovely view.

A stationary window has a thicker frame in order for it to blend in better with other, operable, windows that are adjacent to it.

There are many features to consider when buying windows and many weird and wonderful words to describe them. Mulling, for example, refers to the joining of two or more windows together. Mullion, on the other hand, describes the actual joint between two or more windows that make up a combination.

Related Resource: Install an Awning Window

Obscure glass is a term used to describe glass with a pattern or texture that renders it opaque to the outside world. You would use this type of glass where you want to let in the light, but keep out prying eyes. Obscure is also a term that you might use to describe the mysterious lexicon used in the window industry. If you do a little homework, you can approach your designer with confidence and better express what type of windows you want.