We’ve learned it’s important to celebrate all the steps of progress in any home project, even (and perhaps especially) when that project feels never-ending. We’re 5 (6?) weeks into our bathroom renovation and big time celebrating the recent addition of new windows being put in. It feels amazing to have natural light for the first time streaming into our once, always dark and stuffy bathroom. Since being cut into the side of our home a week ago (I shared it all in real time on Instagram Stories) and installed, we get asked so many questions on the daily about the windows, so we wanted to answer a few of those, show you what we did and why, and give you some things to think about before adding windows to your own bathroom project.
Remember when this looked like this just 2 weeks ago?!
“Aren’t you afraid people will be able to see you in the bathroom through the windows?”
This is the question we’ve been asked the most, and the bathroom is perhaps where privacy is most treasured. So, of course, this was a concern of ours when evaluating how much sense it made to add windows, especially since we wanted a somewhat large window inside the shower itself.
First, I’ll preface this by pointing out the two main types of privacy windows – obscured, and frosted. A frosted window is smooth glass that has a coating applied to it, which blurs visibility. An obscured window is actually textured glass that distorts shapes. We opted for obscured windows, with the highest obscurity available.
After reviewing multiple privacy glass options before the project, and visiting with our contractors, and testing the windows out at all times of the day (and night) after they have been in place, we’ve come to a very comfortable, happy conclusion – we just need to be aware of our lighting.
During the day, it’s not a problem. With obscured windows, you still get some light and color that pass through, but only from the more lit side to the darker side. Meaning, if you’re on the darker side of the window, you can see what’s on the other side better than the other side can see what’s on your side (does that make sense?). The potential issue would be night time, when it’s dark outside and the lights are on inside.
At night, we’ve found no problems with walking around in the bathroom with the lights on. All you see from outside is subtle movement. But as you get closer to the windows, shapes and colors become more recognizable. So the only problem would be showering at night or early in the mornings, and for that we added lights in the shower itself and put them on a dimmer switch. We’ve found that dimming the lights slightly (nothing crazy – still plenty of light to see) reduces visibility from the outside to almost nothing and provides plenty of privacy.
We recognize this isn’t a solution everyone would be comfortable with. No matter how much we explain it and reassure people, we still get hear, “Oh, I don’t know.” And that’s fine. If it makes you uncomfortable, definitely don’t add a window in your shower. But we’re happy with the amount of privacy we’re seeing from the window, and over-the-moon with how much natural light we’ve gained in a previously dark and closed-off space.
As far as the water closet is concerned (that’s the small room where our toilet resides), the window is up high enough that privacy while… “doing ones business,” we’ll say… isn’t an issue.
“How do you keep the window from leaking or being damaged from the shower water?”
Modern-day vinyl windows are meant to handle water. Whether its rain from the outside or shower spray from the inside, the sealing process is the same and equally effective from both directions. Just make sure you buy a vinyl-framed window, not wood.
For leaking, we recommend using a window that doesn’t open, and treat it the same as any other part of the shower to make it water-tight. Frame out the windowsill with concrete board and paint over the entire shower area with RedGard (right up to where the concrete board meets the window).
RedGard is a liquid material that essentially turns to plastic after it dries. Painting it on evenly over the entire surface of the concrete board seals the gaps and creates a water-tight underlayment for your tile. You’ll then use tile for your windowsill instead of trim boards, grout it all, and add silicone where the tile meets the window.
“How do you ensure your roof is still structurally sound after adding a window?”
Every window and doorway in a home has what’s called a “header” above it. The size of the header is determined by a few factors, including the width of the window, the height of the ceiling, the thickness of the walls, and the load from the roof. This entire bathroom project was contracted out, and we made sure to go with a reputable company that had a long history in construction. They know code requirements and made sure the header was more than sufficient.
“When you add a window do you take into account what it will look like from the outside, in relation to other windows on the home?”
The answer to this one is very situational, but it’s definitely something to consider. For us, every window we’ve added (can you believe we’ve added 6 to our home now?!) we’ve lined up the tops with the other windows alongside it. But allowed the space inside to dictate how large or small the window should be. The window in the water closet (and tall and narrow space) is narrow and tall and the window we added to the kitchen, although it lines up with the top of the one on the opposite side of the house wouldn’t make sense to have tall and narrow. There very well may be cases where a window added somewhere won’t line up with anything outside, and you have to decide the value of the natural light gained. We put a high value on natural light inside a home, so it would have to look really funky to turn us away from adding a window somewhere that needed one.
“You guys have added so many windows, but it just seems like such a major thing! Why does it feel so impossible to the rest of us?”
Walls are built to keep the outside, outside. Cutting a hole in that can be scary. But as long as you plan it out, hire a good contractor, and know what should be happening (header in place, opening is level, window flashing tape added outside, insulation still where it needs to be etc), it’s really not scary at all and is one of the most exciting things you can do for your home.
“How much did it cost?”
We’ve added 6 windows to our home and the average cost of the window PLUS installation is $400-$500 (some have been more, some have been less). We purchase our own windows ahead of time to save money–we generally order Pella windows through Lowe’s. Obviously our home is siding on the back which is a lot easier too cut through than brick, which would be a completely different ballgame, I’d imagine. But call around to get a quote–maybe you’ll be surprised!
Did we miss anything? Let me know if you have more questions about adding windows in the comments below and we’ll be happy to answer! Or! If you have a window-adding experience, we’d love to hear that, too.