Windows are an integral part of any home. They allow natural light to flow in, provide views of the outdoors, and contribute to the overall aesthetics and charm of a space. One popular window design that adds elegance and visual interest is the simulated divided light window. Keep reading to learn all about simulated divided light windows, their benefits, costs, and more.
What Are Simulated Divided Light Windows?
Simulated divided light windows, often abbreviated as SDL, refer to windows that have the appearance of separate panes or lights but are actually a single integrated pane. Traditional divided light windows feature individual glass panes separated by muntins, which are the bars or dividers between the panes.
Simulated divided lights mimic this aesthetic but with a simpler construction. Rather than true divided panes, simulated divided light windows have a grid affixed to both sides of a single pane of glass. This grid strives to replicate the look of authentic divided lights but without multiple individual pieces of glass.
There are a few different types of simulated divided light techniques:
- Grids: Thin strips, often about 7/8” wide, are adhered directly to the interior and exterior of the glass pane. This method most closely approximates the look of true divided lights.
- Flat grids: Wide grids, usually 1 1⁄4” to 2 1⁄4” wide, sit flush against the glass panes. The flat profile provides a more modern, streamlined look.
- Grilles between glass: Aluminum or wood grilles are sandwiched between two panes of glass in an insulated window. This protects the grilles and makes window cleaning easier.
- Integral grilles: Grilles are fused between two sheets of hot glass under extreme heat and pressure. The grille becomes part of the glass unit.
No matter the fabrication technique, simulated divided lights offer the charm of multi-pane windows without the hassle of true divided lights. Keep reading to explore the benefits of choosing simulated divided light windows and how to incorporate them into your home.
Benefits of Simulated Divided Light Windows
There are many advantages to selecting simulated divided light windows over traditional divided light designs or plain windows without any grids.
- Simulated divided lights replicate the handsome, symmetrical appearance of classic multi-pane windows. This style has been used in homes for centuries and adds character and visual interest.
- You can mimic the period-appropriate aesthetics for historical homes and preservation projects without the upkeep of actual divided lights.
- Grids add architectural detailing and elegance to both the interior and exterior of your home.
- SDL windows are more energy-efficient than traditional divided light windows which lose more heat through the muntins.
- They reduce outdoor noise transmission thanks to improved acoustics from the thicker single pane.
- They are safer because there are no individual panes that could break. Tempered and laminated glass further increases strength.
- Cleaning is easier without multiple panes and muntins to work around.
- Grid patterns like 6-over-6 or 9-over-9 lights can be customized to match your home’s style. Modern, colonial, cottage, and more looks are possible.
- Grid configurations can differ on the interior and exterior. You could have a colonial grid outside but modern clean lines inside.
- Simulated divided lights are available in nearly any window material: vinyl, wood, aluminum, fiberglass, composite, and more.
- Various grid profiles, textures, and colors allow further personalization.
- Any window type can have simulated divided lights added, including double-hung, casement, awning, transom, and picture windows. Even specialty shapes like arched windows are options.
It’s clear that simulated divided lights offer aesthetics, efficiency, and customization that enhance any home. Keep reading to learn more about how to incorporate SDL windows into your space.
Choosing Grid Patterns and Layouts
One major advantage of simulated divided light windows is the ability to fully customize the grid pattern and layout. Homes from different eras feature distinctive divided light designs that give them character. Or you can create your own unique look.
Consider these common options:
- Colonial: Symmetrical 6-over-6 or 8-over-8 pane configuration, often with thicker muntins. Classic for East Coast 18th and 19th-century homes.
- Prairie: Frank Lloyd Wright favored horizontal lines. Prairie grids often use a pattern like 3-over-1 or 4-over-1.
- Victorian: Busy, often asymmetrical mix of small and large panes for texture. Commonly a square or arched transom window over a vertical sash window.
- Cottage: Quaint 4-over-4 or 6-over-6 divided light pattern. Frequently gabled attic windows or vertical sash windows flanking a door.
- Farmhouse: Lean toward simple, rustic designs. Mostly 6-over-6 panes, occasionally cottage style 4-over-4.
Modern Grid Layouts
Contemporary homes demand clean, sleek simulated divided light options:
- Single muntins: Vertical or horizontal single grids add subtle detail. Works on casement, double hung, transom, and stationary windows.
- Four-pane: Large panes separated by a wide horizontal and vertical muntin. Coastal modern look.
- Prairie: As mentioned above, the 3-over-1 or 4-over-1 patterns work on modern homes too. Emphasize horizontal lines.
- Diamond: Small diamond-shaped panes for texture and visual interest without historical fussiness.
- Asymmetric: Off-center vertical or horizontal muntins. Creates a graphic, modern statement.
Mix and match divided light grids on different window types to design a cohesive, customized look. Now let’s explore how to select the right materials and finishes.
Simulated Divided Light Window Materials and Options
Simulated divided light windows are available in nearly any material you could want. The most popular options include:
- Vinyl: Affordable and energy-efficient. Durable and low-maintenance exterior. Lots of divided light patterns and colors are available. Can scratch or warp with extreme heat.
- Wood: Natural beauty, inside and out. Repels heat and cold. Stains and paints easily for endless looks. Requires frequent repainting or staining to prevent damage. Costs more.
- Aluminum: Sleek and modern appearance. Resists corrosion and is very durable. Thermal breaks prevent transfer and condensation. Comes in finishes like metallic, powder-coated, and anodized. Expands and contracts with temperature changes.
- Fiberglass: Similar wooden look but without the maintenance. It won’t warp or crack. Resistant to water damage. Stains and paints well. Can dent if hit hard. Has good insulation value.
- Vinyl-clad wood: Combines benefits of both materials. Wood interior, vinyl exterior. Low-maintenance and energy efficient. Can be expensive.
Beyond materials, simulated divided light windows can include extra features like tinted or Low-E glass, beveled grids, decorative colored grids, grid textures, and more.
When designing your windows, consider:
- Grid width: 7/8” grids mimic true divided lights. Flat grids around 1 1⁄4” wide have a more contemporary look.
- Grid profile: Flush, beveled, putty, and ovolo add dimension. Putty profiles closely recreate a historically divided light appearance.
- Interior vs. exterior grid: Most people opt for grids on both sides, but you can do just interior or exterior if you prefer.
- Grid material: Available in vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fiberglass materials to match the frames.
Take all the possibilities into account when selecting your ideal simulated divided light windows.
How Much Do Simulated Divided Light Windows Cost?
The price of simulated divided light windows depends on the size, number of windows, window types, materials, and other options selected. In general, you can expect to pay:
- Basic vinyl SDL window: $175 to $400 per window installed. More basic grids and options keep costs down.
- Mid-range wood or fiberglass SDL: $300 to $600 per window installed. More intricate grid patterns and quality materials increase cost.
- Premium wood or aluminum SDL: $500 to $900+ per window installed. Top-grade materials, ornate grid designs, and custom work drive prices up.
- Grid kits for existing windows: Around $20 to $60 per grid kit. Just adhere to your current windows.
Keep in mind that simulated divided light windows don’t cost much more than most standard double-hung or casement windows without grids. The SDL grid kit itself ranges from $20 to $150 per window depending on materials. Well worth it for the visual enhancement!
Work with an experienced window professional to get an accurate estimate for your specific project. Be sure to ask about current sales or discounts on simulated divided light products to help keep costs down. Installation fees from a contractor will be additional as well.
While not the cheapest improvement, new simulated divided light windows are a worthwhile investment that immediately boosts your home’s appearance and value. With the right grids and finishes, they can look like custom windows costing far more. Over time, you’ll recoup costs through increased energy efficiency and reduced exterior noise too.
Incorporating Simulated Divided Light Windows Into Your Home
When planning a window replacement or remodel, there are a few tips to ensure simulated divided lights will complement your home’s style:
- Closely evaluate your home’s architecture and era. Visit historic registered homes from the same period to get design inspiration. Period-appropriate SDL grids will enhance your home’s historic charm.
- Measure existing windows carefully, including height, width, and depth. Replicating the original size and shape maintains architectural harmony.
- Survey window types beyond sashes like transoms, sidelights, and architectural shapes. Custom SDL patterns for these widows promote cohesive design.
- Photograph all elevations – don’t just focus on the front. Fitting the back and sides with similar windows promotes curb appeal.
- Mix up grid patterns between floors or window types for texture and visual interest. Just keep the home’s style in mind.
- Use the same window frames and finish throughout the house for cohesion. A mix of white, black, and natural wood frames looks disjointed.
- Visit window showrooms and bring measurements. Seeing grid options at full scale is essential for finalizing patterns.
- Choose window materials and colors that complement your color scheme. Contrasting or matching trim and grid colors can be striking.
Take your time deciding on your perfect simulated divided light windows. The right choices can add character and style to your home for years to come.
Simulated divided light windows offer the elegance of historic multi-pane designs with the performance of modern window technology. Their characteristic grids lend classic charm and visual appeal to complement any architectural style. When shopping for new windows, be sure to consider how simulated divided lights can enhance your home’s aesthetic. With some thoughtful planning and design, these windows infuse tradition and craftsmanship with 21st-century ease.
Q: Are simulated divided light windows energy efficient?
A: Yes, SDL windows can be very energy efficient, especially modern double or triple-pane models. The grids have minimal impact on efficiency and some even include foam insulation. Just be sure to look for Energy Star ratings when window shopping.
Q: How are simulated divided light grids attached?
A: Adhesive strips, pins, or small screws are used. Installation is quick and does not compromise the glass or frames. Internal grids are encased between glass panes.
Q: Can I add grids to existing windows?
A: Yes, grid kits can be applied to existing glass panes in many cases. Measure carefully and use removable adhesive strips just in case. Some grid profiles may not adhere as smoothly to old glass.
Q: Do simulated divided light windows look authentic?
A: When well-crafted, SDL windows can very closely approximate the look of true divided lights. Details like putty grid profiles, complementary hardware, and period-appropriate patterns complete the authentic aesthetic.
Q: How do you clean simulated divided light windows?
A: Use standard glass cleaners and soft cloths. Avoid abrasive pads or cleaners that could damage the grid material or finish. Some internal grille windows may need professional cleaning.