What are the differences between commercial and residential windows?

Here is the short answer:

  • commercial windows are built to last much longer than home windows
  • different materials – vinyl vs aluminum framing materials for support
  • looks – commercial windows have larger glass surface space
  • price – residential windows are a lot cheaper
  • efficiency – residential windows are more energy efficient


To the untrained eye, commercial and residential windows may look and function in the same way. While they do look similar, there are actually quite a few things that there are different between the two.

You can’t really expect to get good results if you try to add commercial windows in a residential setting and vice versa. So, what’s going on behind the scenes that make residential and commercial windows so different from each other?


What are the Differences In Design?

Commercial Windows

Both windows are designed to be suitable for their respective placements. Commercial windows are not only made of slightly different materials, but different structural requirements must be met as well.

There are certain ratings set by the North American Fenestration Standard that all windows must meet. For commercial windows, this includes having heavy-duty framing and reinforced glazing on the panes to withstand higher wind pressure and overall structural loads.

Residential windows don’t have any issues with high altitudes and great pressure from structural loads, so these windows have thinner glass and less reinforcing. Both commercial and residential windows are designed to excel in their own placements.



There’s also a variation in the materials used for each window type. Commercial buildings tend to be larger and accumulate heat quicker via more people and larger sunlight surface absorption.

On the other hand, residential buildings are usually less crowded and don’t create much internal heat. They have lower U-factor ratings as well to keep energy costs down.

Therefore, these types of buildings benefit from having residential windows designed to let heat enter and naturally warm up the area.

Without the right materials and glazing, commercial buildings would heat up too much, causing a spike in the cooling systems and related bills.



Skyscraper Glass Commercial Building

Another way commercial and residential windows are different is in their appearance. Commercial windows are designed to let in more light for larger spaces, like offices, schools, and other business-type buildings. More light means larger frames and overall more glass. Residential buildings have smaller spaces designated for windows, so you can see less glass and more paneling in action.

Residential windows may also use other effects like tints and geometric shapes for their look. Commercial windows tend to have simpler designs, focused more on function rather than fashion. You won’t see much paneling on commercial windows, rather there’s more glass in action.

Residential windows can come in many architectural styles for cities like Park Ridge.

Durability and Performance

It’s understandable why commercial windows need to be more durable and tougher than residential windows.

Of course, residential windows are still very strong in the sense that they’ll keep everything out in terms of the elements. But more durability against high winds can be expected from commercial-style windows.

These windows are built to last for many years without having to change them. You can usually change residential windows quickly and easily compared to commercial windows. That’s why commercial windows are built in a way where you don’t have to replace them.

On a side note, residential windows are better suited for residential areas. Even though commercial windows might last longer and are generally more durable, that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to switch all of your home windows to commercial quality ones. They each perform better for their settings and have features that make them more beneficial for their specific areas.



The cost of having these two types of windows installed varies greatly. Residential windows typically cost less since they usually don’t require extensive use of complex machinery to reach high areas and get everything put in the right place.

Commercial windows not only require this type of equipment but also take a longer time to get the job done.

Combine this with the fact that commercial windows are just more expensive in general due to the specialized glaze and stronger material. More time and effort, plus expensive equipment add up to larger costs for commercial windows when compared to residential windows.

Regardless of the type of window, success depends on the quality of the products and the experience of the person installing them. Whether you need residential, vinyl windows, or commercial windows, it’s important to research your contractor before moving into your project.

Architectural Glass House Residential Building