Does a Bathroom Need a Window? Explained

Every new house usually comes with a bathroom that has a window. That’s because every bathroom needs to have some sort of ventilation, and the window is a great thing just for that. While there are some other options for ventilating your bathroom, such as ventilation fans, a window is a cheapest and most common solution to get rid of moisture. But is it necessary to have a window in your bathroom? In this article, we’ll talk about that.

So Does a Bathroom Need a Window? A bathroom doesn’t need a window (according to the international residential code) if a ventilation fan is installed. However, the bathroom requires to have at least one ventilation system installed, either a window or vent fan.

Having a window in a bathroom is a great plus, but it’s not always an option. Some bathrooms can be placed so that the walls of other houses surround them, so they cannot install a window. In these cases, a ventilation system is required. We will go through this topic in more detail below.

As humidity is a big issue with most bathrooms, make sure to read Are Humidity Sensing Bathroom Fans Worth It?

Advantages Of Bathroom Windows 

Benefits of having a window in a bathroom

As water evaporates while you are taking a bath or a hot shower, moisture is created. If there is no system in place to remove the moisture, it will create mold and even higher levels of bacteria due to the increased temperature and humidity levels.

This is where a window comes in handy since it is the easiest way to release moisture and keep your bathroom clean and fresh. Furthermore, a window can even make your bathroom appear larger than it is. By letting the natural sunlight, you will improve the overall lighting of a room and make it seem bigger and thus cozier and less claustrophobic.

Window As Ventilation System In A Bathroom

The bathroom window is used as a ventilation system

As we’ve already mentioned, there is no way to release moisture after a hot shower or bath by not having a ventilation system in your bathroom (in this case, a window). This can lead to increased humidity levels, and they can cause problems like:

  • Growth of mold and mildew – Not only does mold cause allergic reactions, which can lead to complications regarding your respiratory system, but it also isn’t very aesthetically pleasing.
  • Smell – Mold also has a very unpleasant smell, and although you might not see it due to it being concealed in the ceiling or the walls of your bathroom, you will be able to smell it and so will any guest who might use your bathroom. By having a proper ventilation system or just a simple window you can easily solve this problem.
  • Damage – Dampness, and moisture don’t only cause unpleasant smells and mold spots, but they can also seriously damage the construction of your house. For example, if the wood in your ceiling that holds the roof has too much moisture, it will start to rot, leading to your roof collapsing if left unattended.
  • Paint loosening – Even though this might seem like an easily solvable problem, simply repainting your damp walls won’t solve the problem. Moisture can make your paint chip fall off.
  • Health problems– Not having a window can lead to several problems in your bathroom. For example, your towels will never be dry. Another problem is having trouble breathing due to the high moisture and humidity levels.

More Natural Light

One of the advantages of having a window in the bathroom is that the window gives more natural light, and thus you can also save electricity. Suppose your window is looking into your neighbor’s backyard. In that case, you could easily solve this problem by opting for a tinted window or even a curtain, and the benefits of having a window in your bathroom will definitely outweigh this problem.

When the Bathroom Should Not Have a Window?

Bathroom Should Not Have a Window

You can opt to not having a window in your bathroom if your bathroom meets the following two requirements listed by the International residential code (IRC R303.3):

  • Natural light
  • Local exhaust system

This means that if you have a fan and a light in your bathroom, then it’s OK not to have a window. However, the fan should always be installed so that it vents to the outside of the house.

If your bathroom doesn’t have a window, here are some tips on how to reduce moisture in your bathroom:

  • Bathroom Exhaust Fan – An exhaust fan is a great option when it comes to letting moisture and lowering the humidity levels in your bathroom, but it will also get rid of unpleasant smells. It works by simply drawing the air out of the bathroom and thus ventilating the area.
  • Heated Floors – Although heated floors are a great option, they work best when combined with an exhaust fan since the floors will turn the leftover water into steam, which can then be pulled in by the exhaust fan, leaving your bathroom nice and dry.
  • Dehumidifier – This device works by pulling in moisture, essentially water, from the air and preventing it from circulating. Although it doesn’t work perfectly, it can still help prevent mold and unpleasant odors. This is a good option if you can’t install a window in your bathroom.

Whether or not you opt for a window or a fan, be sure to clean your bathroom regularly and always leave the exhaust fan or dehumidifier on while you are taking a shower or bath to help the air circulate better. This will also help with keeping your walls and ceiling intact.

Here is a great Youtube video that you can watch that explains how to ventilate a bathroom without a window:

Importance of Having a Window in a Bathroom

Importance of Windows in a bathroom

Before deciding whether or not you wish to install a window in your bathroom, check the requirements and laws of your own state or province. In certain areas having a window is a must due to safety reasons and in some areas installing one is an option. In other situations, having a window is a must if you don’t have any other ventilation system such as the ones we’ve previously mentioned.

Keep in mind that the minimum requirement for a window is 3 square feet if it is the sole ventilation system in your bathroom and ventilation is its primary function even though we’ve mentioned a few others previously. Either way, be sure to check the laws and requirements of your own state or province.

Does a Bathroom Window Have to be Tempered?

Bathroom Window Tempered

First of all, let’s establish what tempered glass really is: this is the same glass from which car windows are made, not only is it far more durable, but it also has a special trait. If this type of glass breaks, it will shatter into many small pieces, making it much safer than regular glass since there is a smaller chance of cutting yourself.

When it comes to choosing between regular and tempered glass for your window, be sure to check if your window meets all the specified requirements. The bathroom glass doesn’t have to be tempered if:

  • The size of the window is a maximum of 9 square feet.
  • The window needs to be a minimum of 18 inches away from the floor.
  • 36 inches is the minimum distance from the floor to the top of the window.
  • The minimum distance between your walking area and the window is 36 inches.

Either way, a tempered glass window is never a bad option, and any professional will recommend it.

The Pros And Cons Of Windowless Bathroom

Pros And Cons Of Windowless Bathroom

Now that we have explained why it is good and desirable to have a window in the bathroom, we will now go through the pros and cons of the windowless bathroom. Below we’ve listed some of the pros and cons of having no window in your bathroom, so be sure to check them out.

Pros of a Windowless Bathroom

Even though we’ve mostly talked about the pros of having a window, there are also some pros of not having one.

  • Less Heat Loss – Windows are very poor insulators, thus not having one will definitely keep your bathroom warmer, especially during cold months or in colder areas.
  • More Privacy – Not only are you able to hear everything happening on the outside which can be very stressful if you are trying to enjoy your bath, but also there is always that uneasy feeling which comes with a sense of lack of privacy despite the security features most windows offer.
  • Fewer Insect Infestations – Not only insects but also smaller animals such as rodents and other similar creatures can use the window as a gateway into your home.

Cons of a Windowless Bathroom

Nevertheless, you should also check out the cons of not having a window.

  • No Ventilation – Most people don’t enjoy the smell of sweat or moisture, and not having a window will cause your bathroom to smell like this. Also, fresh air will definitely be at a minimum.
  • Increased Risk of Mold – Not having a window or a proper ventilation system will lead to increased humidity levels and the accumulation of moisture. This will not only affect the coziness of the bathroom but also will lead to the creation of bacteria, mold, and even fungi. All these can cause severe health problems.
  • Increased Electrical Bill – Since you have to use light bulbs and even a device powered by electricity to ventilate your bathroom, your wallet will definitely take a substantial hit.

How To Choose the Right Bathroom Window?

If your biggest worry is design and aesthetics, you’re in luck since you can choose from any of the below:

  • Awning Bathroom Windows – One of the best options, both functionally and aesthetically due to its specific design which allows for only the lower part of the window to be opened, making it an ideal solution for all types of weather conditions.
  • Sliding Bathroom Windows – A great option if your bathroom lacks space since it allows the window to be opened by simply pushing each wing to one side.
  • Double-Hung Bathroom Windows – This type of window allows for some diversity, depending on whether you want increased airflow or increased sunlight since you can open it from either the top or the bottom
  • Picture Bathroom Windows – If you wish for an idyllical view from your bathroom, especially if you live in a remote location, a picture window is perfect for you since it is a larger type of window. This also enables more sunlight to pour into your bathroom.

Whether you want to choose the type of window on your own or if you want to leave it to the professionals, the perfect type of window is determined by your own needs and preferences and the needs of your bathroom.

Should You Install a Privacy Glass?

Those of you living in remote areas with few neighbors might not require privacy glass, but if your house is in-between other houses or on the ground floor of a building, increasing your privacy by opting for privacy glass might not be such a bad idea. To make it clear, privacy glass is a special type of glass through which it is nearly impossible to see anything.

Also if you would like to know more about this topic, be sure to read this article, How Does Smart (Switchable) Glass Work.

If this article has changed your mind about whether or not you should have a window, be sure to contact an expert in this field to help you with installing one. One of the firms you could contact is Thompson Creek. They will offer a wide array of solutions and designs to fit your bathroom.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, even if you decide not to have a window, you should make sure that you have another type of ventilation system such as an exhaust fan. Clean your bathroom regularly to prevent mold and fungi from appearing and check your government’s requirements when it comes to windows in bathrooms. Remember that having a window not only helps ventilate the bathroom, but also decreases your electricity bill by letting in sunlight.

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