Consider grille options for distinctive windows

Grilles featured in windows or doors provide the traditional look of multiple panes of light and provide a distinctive appearance. When choosing grilles, consider how important maintenance, convenience, style, and unobstructed views are to you and your design preferences. Whether you prefer wood, fiberglass or vinyl windows or doors, a myriad of grille options are available today.

Sometimes called muntins, four types of grilles are most common:

  • True divided light — Grilles on older homes and historic architecture typically represent true divided light, or TDL, which simply means small individual sections of glass are framed by the window or door material. If you want today’s more energy-efficient insulating glass, grilles have to be thicker to accommodate the glass depth. One benefit of true divided light is that if one pane is broken, you need only replace that individual pane. However, the combination of grilles and the smaller, individual panes of glass can be less energy efficient than a single, larger pane of glass.
  • Simulated divided light — A contemporary alternative to true divided light grilles, simulated divided light, or SDL, grilles are affixed to the interior and exterior of the window glass. Some SDL grilles feature spacers between panes of glass to make them even more comparable to true divided light. This provides a distinctive look with only a minimal loss of energy efficiency.
  • Grilles between-the-glass — This grille option provides the classic look of grilles, as well as hassle-free cleaning of both the inside and outside glass surfaces. Since grilles are protected between the panes of glass, windows and doors can be cleaned more quickly.
  • Snap-on grilles — A removable grille rests on the unit’s interior, but can be removed for easy window cleaning. Typically available for interior grilles only, this option provides the flexibility for home or business owners to change grille patterns quickly and easily. Removable grilles can be painted or stained to match the interior décor and can easily be snapped into place or taken out for a completely different look. For added convenience, the exterior side of removable grilles can be painted to match exterior finish of the window.

Grille styles include:

  • Traditional — equally divided panes of glass, also called colonial.
  • Prairie — a style often found on Craftsman-style designs; includes 9-lite,12-lite and 14-lite styles.  “Lite” describes the look of how many panes of glass the unit appears to be divided into by the grille.
  • Top row — panes of glass divided only in the top portion of the window, also called valance to simulate the look of a window valance. 
  • New England — typically found in double-hung windows with equally divided panes of glass in the top sash with two panes of divided glass in the bottom sash.
  • Cross — window or door divided into two small panes at the top and two large panes of glass at the bottom.

In addition, custom grilles can be made to match nearly any style, and grilles can be made for curved windows and transoms (windows that go over the top of windows or doors).