window sill height

What height should a window be from the floor? The considerations of diversifying from the UK average.

You’ve probably not thought much about the sill or head height of your window until you started planning for your home improvements.

In the UK you will find the vast majority of homes will position their sill height at roughly the same placement (variable by room type) and the top of their window (head) will be aligned to the top of their doorways (2040mm from floor).  However this doesn’t need to be the case. 

In this article we will highlight the key considerations of increasing the window size in your room.

Window height from floor – what the variables can look like

window sill height
In this custom build home, the closest window to us (the bedroom), is set with a standard window sill height from the floor of 850mm. In the middle section (the dining room), you can see the window runs right to the floor, with a slimmer floor to sill height of 50mm.
window sill height
The fixed windows sitting behind the sofa run from floor to ceiling with minimal sill of 50mm, the view maximised by the slimline frames.
window sill height
The window sill on this landscape window is set at 1100mm. bringing in natural light and breaking up the canvas of the room.

5 factors to consider before you alter your window height from the floor.

#1 – The Functionality of a Room

Window height from the floor can vary hugely around a home, often dictated by the functionality  of the room. 

In a living room you will find the sill height far lower (typically 800mm or less ) so that you can view the outdoors while seated. Whereas in a bedroom the sill will be higher and nearer to 1100mm from the floor to provide more privacy to the resident. 

For the top of windows, as standard in the UK you will find the average home window will align with the top of the doorway (2040mm from floor in Scotland). Although this consistency is common,  it doesn’t need to be the case and you will find in more modern properties this will vary more. 

Privacy is usually the biggest concern when looking at increasing the window size and the priority of this will change depending on the room. It’s also wise to consider what you are looking onto – for example if you live in a cul de sac facing other properties, you might not want to increase the car lights beaming into your living room, nor passerbys being able to see what you are getting up to, albeit your can put soft furnishings in place to reduce this.  

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#2 – Building Construction and Regulations.

Lowering the sill height to below 800mm from the floor requires the use of safety glass, to prevent shattering and reduce the risk of injury. In addition if you are considering lowering the sill height on the first floor or above you will require a window guard or balconette to be fitted on the exterior if the windows open.

#3 – Natural Light 

We typically spend 90% of our time indoors, however as a human race we evolved outside. Statistics now prove that exposing our bodies to fresh air and natural light can improve our wellbeing. It therefore comes as no surprise that increasing the volume of light through windows can have a positive impact on our health; reducing stress, anxiety and boosting our bodies immune system. 

window sill height

Maximising the wall (and ceiling) space covered by windows will increase the amount of natural light reflecting around the property. Reducing the sill height from floor and likewise the top of the window from ceiling will maximise the area of glazed surface and therefore the volume of natural light. However size doesn’t need to be the only option, positioning a small horizontal window high up from the floor can provide the natural light you want, without you needing to sacrifice wall space.

#4 – Appearance 

Lowering the sill height to floor and/or decreasing the window to ceiling height can dramatically impact a room’s appearance. You’ll most often see the larger window heights in public, social  rooms such as living rooms, conservatories and sunrooms. In these situations the home designers are endeavouring to increase the connectivity with the external and surrounding environment. If you have a view, maximise the benefits of having one and enjoy it from within your home as well as in the garden.

Moving away from the average window height placement,  will make your home seem exclusive, different – more of a talking point. 

Larger window heights can also trick the eye, to think a room is larger than its actual size, so can be extremely powerful when you are looking to create a more spacious feel in your home.

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#5 – Ventilation 

Ventilation is essential in your home as it removes moisture, cooking odours and other indoor pollutants. Having poor air flow circulation can impact your health if the property starts to create mould, due to humid living conditions. 

Condensation is caused when humidity in the air comes in contact with a cold surface and it condenses from a gas to a liquid again. This is most common in winter and we tend to see it on our windows because glass is impervious so the water droplets remain present rather than being absorbed into a textile material.

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If condensation is not dealt with, it can result in mould, mildew and mites which can rot the building, but more worryingly can impact our health, creating allergies and respiratory issues. 

In years gone by, ventilation in the home occurred naturally due to poorly insulated home construction. However due to better building regulations now requiring a secure building envelope, ventilation is minimsed as leaky windows and walls are pretty much banished to the past. This in itself has its issues, and more modern homes are often now fitted with better ventilation strategies such as whole house ventilation systems.

When considering larger windows for your home, ventilation is a key consideration. This is because the increase in glazed surface space would result in more humid air coming into contact with a cold surface. This will need to be counterbalanced using controlled or passive mechanisms such as trickle vents and extraction fans.

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Summary : What height should a window be from the floor? The considerations of diversifying from the UK average.  

The impact to your home’s appearance by changing the window height can be huge. Moving it away from standard shapes and sizes will open up design features that make it unique and memorable. The drawbacks are that costs can be increased if you need to move the lintel up into the floor or attic space – however this could be minimised on a new build. 

Natural light and increasing the relationship with the surrounding environment are huge plus points of changing the window height from the standard UK placement. However, this needs to be balanced with your need for privacy, ventilation and the general functionality of the room. 

Ask yourself, will changing the window height from floor add value to the setting?