Commercial Windows vs Residential Windows: What Sets Them Apart? 

Commercial Windows vs Residential Windows: What Sets Them Apart?  

To the uninitiated, commercial- and residential windows seem the same. While they may appear that way at first, they are actually quite different. Because they are designed differently, you will never get a good result by using a residential window in a commercial space and vice-versa. 

What Are the Differences Between Commercial and Residential Windows?

Here is the short answer:

  • Commercial windows are more durable than home windows

  • They use different materials 

  • Commercial windows have larger glass surface space

  • Residential windows are much less expensive

  • Residential windows are more energy efficient

What Are the Differences In Design?

Manufacturers make commercial windows from different materials versus residential windows because they have different structural requirements.

Commercial windows must meet the requirements of the North American Fenestration Standard. This includes heavy-duty framing and reinforced glazing on the panes, which help the windows withstand higher wind pressure and heavier structural loads.

Residential windows do not need to withstand high altitudes and heavy structural load pressure, so they have thinner glass and less reinforcement.


Commercial buildings tend to heat up quickly because they contain more people and have larger sunlight surface absorption. Residential buildings are usually less crowded and therefore create less internal heat.

Because of this, residential buildings benefit from windows designed to let heat enter, naturally warming the area.

Without the right materials and glazing, commercial buildings would overheat, leading to a spike in the cooling systems and related bills.


Commercial windows are designed to let in more light because of their larger spaces. To get more light, larger frames and more glass are included. Residential buildings have smaller spaces designated for windows, so they are designed with less glass and more paneling.

Residential windows may also use tints and geometric shapes for aesthetic reasons. Commercial windows tend to have simpler designs with more glass and less paneling.

Durability and Performance

Commercial windows need to be more durable and tougher than residential windows. They are built to last many years without having to change them because of the large expense involved. You can usually change residential windows quickly and easily.


Residential windows typically cost much less to install because they do not need the extensive use of complex machinery to reach high floors.

Commercial windows not only require this type of equipment but it also takes a longer time to get the job done. In addition, commercial windows have the added expense of specialized glaze and heavier materials. More time and effort are needed for commercial window installation, plus expensive equipment adds up to larger costs compared to residential windows.

Regardless of the type of window, the key thing is to install the ones with the proper specifications for the building or home they are part of.  Whether you need residential or commercial windows, it’s important to research your contractor before moving forward with your project.

Carlton Building Services in Hampton Roads Virginia

Carlton Building Services specializes in medical facility renovation in Hampton Roads Virginia. The company also handles new builds, retail renovation, and commercial space remodeling in Hampton Roads. Our services come highly recommended. 

If you need general building contractor services in Hampton Roads, Virginia, contact Carlton Building Services today. We have a wide arrange of past project highlights that you can peruse prior to making a decision.

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.