Residential vs Commercial Windows: A Comparative Guide

There are several things you should know when comparing residential and commercial windows. You can check out our guide here to learn more.

Did you know that glass windows have been enjoyed since 100 A.D. by the Roman Egyptians? Are you considering an upgrade for windows in your home or office?

This article explores the difference between residential vs commercial windows. Read on to discover a comparison to help you pick out your ideal windows.

Residential vs Commercial Windows

When doing a comparison of commercial vs residential windows, it’s important to be aware of the differences in design. You’ll find that commercial windows are made of different materials and have different structural requirements than residential ones.

The North American Fenestration Standard sets the rules for what residential and commercial windows must meet.

The different classification grades are:

  • R: Used in 1-2 family homes
  • CW: For low-rise and mid-rise buildings (larger windows)
  • AW: For high-rise and mid-rise buildings (increased loading requirements)

Certain requirements must be met for commercial buildings.

Two examples are:

  • They’ll need to have a certain amount of wind resistance
  • Uniform structural loading (no damage or breaking to the glass)

High-rise properties are classified as AW since they have the highest minimum load requirement.

While you can select the window you’d like in your home, it wouldn’t make sense to install high-capability windows (windows that are designed for commercial buildings).

Thick vs Thin

Thicker glass is used more often for commercial windows to protect against storms and high winds. It also increases efficiency.

Since commercial buildings will produce more heat than a residence, the thicker glass will prevent the AC from working too much.

Many can be specially glazed or tinted to protect you from UV rays. Back in 2011, there were more than $24 billion in losses because of thunderstorms and wind.

This further instills why it’s so vital commercial windows have this stronger grading system.

If you decide to go with a residential option, you can have more design features that are thinner.

They’re thinner since they don’t have to worry about high winds as much as commercial buildings. This is due to them being lower to the ground.

Do Commercial Windows Cost More?

Commercial window and door installation can cost more since the glass is thicker, and the installation is longer.

When you have mid-high rise properties, you’ll need special equipment to place these windows. Most of them also require on-site glazing.

Buildings also require more windows than residential ones. Because of this, they take longer to finish. This will, of course, increase labor costs.

You have the option to buy residential windows in standard sizes. When you buy them in standard sizes, this can help cut customization costs.


You can have different designs with residential windows such as geometric shapes or tints. Whereas, commercial windows are made to let in more light for larger spaces.

Since they let in more light, they tend to have larger frames with more glass. This leads to commercial windows having a more simple design.

Homes can have smaller spaces for the glass in the windows. This can mean more paneling and less glass.

Comparing Residential vs Commercial Windows

When doing a comparison of residential vs commercial windows, they each have their pros and cons.

Would you like to read more about home and business ideas? Check out our other articles today!

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