What Size Window for this Bathroom? Privacy Glass or Clear?

kendog2May 2, 2012

We're installing a shower in our bathroom and want to replace the window before tiling around it. The current window opening is 46 1/2" x 11". We will be installing a Milgard Styleline vinyl new construction window. Our plan it to make the window taller to compensate for the increased size of the window frame The height would be increased on the top, not the bottom since it's inside a shower). Should we go up 3", 4" or 5"? This window faces west so we'll be ordering the Max Low E glass. The side of the house where this window is located is hardly ever seen from the outside. There is only one other window on a large blank wall. Is it considered more desirable to have a larger bathroom window? We have a skylight in this bathroom over the counter area so we're not desperate for more light. I just want the bathroom to look nice.

I'm also struggling with whether to use clear or privacy glass. The bottom of this window is 69" from the floor so no one can look in ( at least not without putting a ladder up to the window). However, we get a lot of wind and the window tends to get dirty. Would it look better to install "rain" glass so the dirt would be less noticeable or to leave it clear so we can see the trees outside? We will be installing clear glass on top of the wall at the front of the shower.

A third option would be to install "Warwick" glass on the window and the glass on top of the wall. The "Warwick" is hand-made with lines through it but doesn't offer any real privacy. I'm not sure if it might look too busy with the tile.


Sorry for the long post. Any opinions would be appreciated.

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Can the window be seen from the outside?

Neighbors second floor?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:08AM
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You do realize that raising the height of the window from the top will involve reframing the wall and involve a new header?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:51AM
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If you have a skylight and you think you have enough light, I would dump the window. From your description, it sounds like it is more of a hassle because of choices. Just be sure to get a nice quiet fan to move the moisture out of the bathroom.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:06AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Millworkman is correct too!

You need to go down to avoid the additional framing work.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:17AM
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Thank you all for your replies.

Brikeyee: Our property is 2 1/2 acres. The house is single story. The nearest neighbor's house is probably at least 400 feet away. The window can be seen from the outside if someone were to walk to that side of the house but we seldom do. The driveway and garage are on the opposite side.

Millworkman: Yes, I think I understand what you mean about the reframing requirements. I don't understand the detaiols but our friend explained that he would have to cut beside the window. I think he said we could use the same header if we don't go too far up, assuming that the header is 6". We have stucco on the exterior. Our friend thinks that if we add wood trim on the exterior, it would hide the damage. Does this sound right or do you think it would take a lot more demolition?

I was a little disappointed that the interior would have to be cut. The Kerdi waterproofing membrane has already been installed so that would have to be patched. However, I'm afraid that if we don't increase the size of the window, it will look like a tiny slit in the wall once we install the heavier vinyl frame.

Eastbay10: Thank you for your suggestion but we really want to keep the window.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:24AM
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If it is a 6" header you will definitely need a new header, and I am afraid it will be more work than your looking to do in increasing the window height.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:26AM
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Windowswashington: Thank you for your reply. I didn't see it before I posted mine. Are you suggesting that we make the window smaller than it is now to avoid additional framing work? Will it be almost as much work to keep the window the same size as to make it a bit taller? Since you're the second person who has mentioned how much work is involved in reframing, I'm thinking that this must be a really big deal.

The person who is going to do the work didn't seem bothered by it. He has built homes for a living so I hope he knows what he's talking about and this doesn't involve tearing half the wall apart. If we keep the window the same size, would the wall still have to be cut on the interior at the lower portion of the window frame?

Millworkman: Can you tell me how many inches of damage to the stucco would be involved in replacing the header and approximately how many hours of work? The person doing the job knows how to re-texture the stucco. We do plan to paint the stucco on the entire house soon but I don't want to put our friend through hell to gain a few inches of glass. He's also offered to remove the drop ceiling in our kitchen, a project that my husband was horrified to take on when I suggested it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Not down in window size...down toward the tub to enlarge the opening.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:28PM
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Oh, I see. I don't think we would want to go down because that would cause more water to hit the window. It think the window will stay dry where it is now. The shower head will be on the left wall.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Also, the slide bar for our hand-held shower will be attached to the wall beneath the window so we'll need to leave the lower wall intact.

Would it be a good idea to cut into the stucco to find out what size header is there before we order the window? The installer mentioned cutting into the header without replacing it to accommodate a taller window.

After talking with someone at the window store, I finally understand why window headers are so important - they help provide support for walls. Given that that's the case, I would be a little nervous about reducing the size of the header. We live in an earthquake zone and want our walls to be strong. Is it safe to cut into the header a small amount? Should the header be at least 4 x 6" for a 4' wide window?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Technically the header should be exactly what is is now according to code. Some could argue that you could shave it a bit if it's a gable wall, but code would not approve that. Just do what you have to do to frame in the window you want there and be done with it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Sounds like good advice, WindowDog. I talked to an installer who said that he prefers to install the new header on the inside because it's easier to cut drywall than stucco. I think that will work great for us since the wall will be covered with tile to the ceiling.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:32AM
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kendog2, that sounds like an installer that's done it a few times. I like that. Let us know how it turns out!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:59AM
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WindowDog, will do. Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:31PM
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