Transom Windows

Transom windows are excellent design elements that have stood the test of time better than most architectural trends throughout history.

Their first use was recorded in 14th century Europe and often appeared as simple openings covered with animal hide. Yet, over the centuries, the range of designs has expanded immensely keeping them as in fashion today, as they were 700 years ago.

This rich history makes us proud to carry on this centuries-old design tradition throughout the Greater Seattle area. If you’re interested in installing transom windows in your new or current home, look no further than Lake Washington Windows and Doors!

What is a transom window?

A transom is an architectural term referring to the horizontal beam that runs along the top of a door, separating it from the window above it. Transom windows are named after their location above window and door transoms. They can be curved, square, balanced, or asymmetrical in varying heights. However, their width generally matches that of the doorways. 

picture window

What’s the purpose of a transom window?

When they were first invented, transoms opened and closed on hinges to provide ventilation by allowing air to circulate from room to room. They also provided privacy and security within a home or business. Today, they are primarily used as decorative design elements while providing the room with additional outside light, especially during mornings and evenings.

Transom style options

With so many years of use, it’s no surprise that the variety of transom window styles has grown very diverse. Modern transoms can be divided into three primary frame designs available in materials including wood, vinyl, fiberglass, and more. The selection of window material and glass is nearly endless but commonly includes leaded, stained, frosted, or clear glass. We offer various Transom windows through Andersen and Milgard.

Window - Milgard

Fanned Window

This arched, semicircular design is one of the most traditional and widely used transoms available. It’s often called a “fanlite” because it represents the open decorative fans used historically throughout Europe and Asia.

Paneled Glass

This style is built with a paneled frame made of metal or wood, creating symmetrical patterns and designs including squares, diamonds, triangles, and more.

Solid Window

One of the most modern transom window options is the solid single pane of glass without any paneled divisions. This style is generally made with transparent or frosted builder-grade glass in a rectangular shape.

What are modern transom windows?

As we mentioned before, modern transoms, commonly called transom lights, are mainly decorative features used to complement a home’s architectural style while creating additional natural light. Their height can range from a few inches to several feet, and while the majority are fixed shut, some options do open. Modern designs are motorized and controlled by a wall-mounted panel, and high-end models are equipped with moisture sensors that automatically close when it begins to rain. Fiberglass windows are the most energy efficient and high-tech option available, although vinyl windows are a close second. 

Window - Milgard

Transoms vs. sidelights

While transoms are the horizontal windows above, sidelights are the narrow vertical windows located on one or both sides of a door or window. They’re often installed together, especially in the entry doorways. Both styles are decorative designs that create more light in their respective rooms. Many modern manufacturers produce front doorway systems that include transoms, sidelites, and the door in a single sealed unit to offer increased weather protection.

Installation process

Transom windows are just one of many window styles we can install in your home. Our standard process for adding a transom is to first remove the interior drywall and exterior cladding where the window will be placed. Next we remove the sections of wall studs in the space and reframe the area for the window. If the wall is load-bearing, extra precautions will need to be taken to ensure the wall has the support it needs before reframing. Then the window will be placed before new drywall and cladding will be installed followed by the trim framing.

The process for installing a transom window can vary depending on several factors. If the transom is a part of a sealed doorway system, it’s much easier to install compared to the addition of transoms to an existing wall. Likewise, it’s much easier to install transoms into non-load bearing walls.

We recommend that you hire a licensed professional to ensure the job is done correctly. Our installation team at Lake Washington Windows and Doors are experienced professionals trained to complete transom installations smoothly and efficiently. Contact us today for a free estimate and installation scheduling.