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Window Hardware

All operable windows come equipped with hardware, the mechanisms used for opening and closing the sash, latches, and so forth. Here is a look at the key types of hardware:

Casement window folding crank and latches are inconspicuous on this Pella window.


Casement, awning, and hopper windows utilize cranks for opening and closing. (Older types used push-bar operators.) Some manufacturers offer cranks in nonmetallic finishes (notably white), and some new types have fold-down handles that are relatively inconspicuous.


The best casement, awning, and hopper hinges pivot to allow arm space between the sash and the window frame to make washing exterior glass an easy job. You can even find special European hardware that turns a casement window into a hopper window. Because the hardware locks tightly in several places around the frame, the windows have very low air infiltration. But, unlike American casement windows, the European-style window mechanism swings into the room, which can be awkward and inconvenient depending on the type of window coverings you have.


On double-hung windows, the sash is counterbalanced on the sides by weights or mechanisms such as torsion screws.

A smooth glider has low-profile hardware. Photo: Marvin

Sliding Mechanisms

The sashes of most aluminum and vinyl windows are lightweight enough to slide in the sill tracks. But large, door-height sashes must be supported by heavy-duty rollers on their bottom edges.

Latches, Locks & Security

Latches are used to hold the window tightly closed. Two are recommended on tall or wide hinged windows. On double-hung windows, sash locks pull together the upper and lower sash. Keyed sash locks provide an additional measure of security. On sliders, look for security locks so the operable sashes cannot be jimmied open.

Though hinged doors are relatively easy to protect with proper latches and deadbolts, windows and sliding glass doors are not as simple to secure. Windows and doors that slide can be forced open or lifted off their tracks, and glazing can be broken.

In addition to installing locking devices, you can enhance security by replacing all ordinary glass with tempered, laminated, or wire-reinforced glass or with plastic, as well as by installing perimeter alarm systems.

Several ready-made devices are available to make prying open a window and/or removing a sliding glass door from its track more difficult. The right locking device to choose will depend on whether you need to secure a sliding window or door or a double-hung window.

To keep a panel from sliding, use track grips, which are tightened by a thumbscrew or key, or use metal stops that straddle the lower track and are secured with a lever or thumbscrew that clamps them in place. Or use a spring bolt, which is screwed to the sill or base track and has a pin that snaps through a hole drilled into the edge of the lower track and the bottom of the sash.

Even more secure is a bar that screws to the doorjamb and swings up into a saddle on the edge of the door to lock it in place; an advantage of this type of bar is that it can be adjusted to allow the door to be partially open.

The easiest way to keep an inside panel from sliding is to drop a dowel or a piece of stiff tubing into the empty portion of the lower track. Cut it 1/4 inch shorter than the distance between the panel and the jamb.

Double-hung windows can be locked with wedge locks, key-operated latches, or locking pins that go through one sash and into the next.


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