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Clerestory Windows

What kind of window suits an ultra-modern home? If you have a spacious open-plan house with great views, then clerestory windows might be a perfect choice.

Clerestory (pronounced “clear-story”) windows allow a maximum of natural light, ventilation, and solar heat into a building.

Clerestory windows consist of large window panes, or a number of smaller window panes, situated at the top of the wall just under the ceiling. They can also be placed in a specially-built section of the wall that rises above adjoining roofs – this is called a clerestory wall.

Clerestory windows were used in ancient Egyptian and later European medieval buildings, to illuminate large interiors. They’re still popular these days – in large commercial spaces like gyms, as well as more dignified settings!

In residential homes, they can be installed to create an extra “layer” of windows in a room, above the windows already placed at eye level. The acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright used clerestory windows to great effect in projects like the Ennis House in Los Feliz, California.

Pros and Cons of Clerestory Windows


This is the most obvious and biggest advantage of clerestory windows.

They allow natural light straight into the heart of the building and offer a view of the sky.

If you have pieces of furniture and artwork you want to display against the walls in a room, clerestory windows give you the option of allowing in light while leaving plenty of space for your prized possessions.

However, this window style can also cause excessive glare in a room, depending on the situation of the windows and the time of day.


Clerestory windows can make a home look very modern and aesthetically pleasing. Lots of modern architecture places emphasis on highly creative window styles and placement.

The downside of so many windows situated high up is that they can get dirty, and are hard to clean. This is particularly important to remember if you have a large, bird-friendly tree nearby!

Health benefits

One way you can improve your mood and wellbeing is by exposing yourself to as much natural light as possible. Natural light has many health benefits, and the type of windows you install can affect the natural illumination of your home.

Temperature regulation

Clerestory windows, if they can be opened, allow breezes to circulate throughout the house. The downside is that, in the summer months, extra heat can build up in the home. Many homeowners will counteract this by using their air conditioner more, incurring greater expense and causing more strain on the energy system.


Clerestory window size should be carefully considered. While large windows can give the room a fantastic view of the outside and a light and airy atmosphere, they can also affect the energy efficiency of the home.

Smaller windows, set into a thick section of wall, and made of the correct type of glass, will combat temperature fluctuations. It’s also easier to fit blinds or shades on smaller windows to help maintain temperature control.

Clerestory Window Prices

Clerestory windows are almost always custom-made to fit your specific requirements. You will need an experienced contractor to install them in your home. Extensive building alterations might have to be done.

Because of these various factors, clerestory window costs vary considerably. One thing that doesn’t vary is that these windows are near the top of the replacement window price spectrum!

Economy clerestory windows range from $800 to $1,400.

These windows will have 3 or 4 narrow window panes made of standard window glass. They are generally fixed in place and don’t open for ventilation.

Standard clerestory windows range from $1,400 to $2,500.

Standard clerestory windows are generally 3 or more medium-sized windows. They will likely be double-paned and made of either vinyl, fiberglass, or wood. These mid-range clerestory window installations often have adjustable windows on the outer edges.

High-end clerestory windows range from $2,500 to $4,000.

These high-end windows will generally be made of wood or steel, and are larger than standard.  At this price level, you can expect to double- or triple-layered glass panes, with gas fills and insulation.

High-end window options may consist of adjustable window units, such as casement or awning windows. These allow maximum ventilation and airflow through the home interior.

Clerestory Windows Installation Costs

Clerestory installation price will range from $800 to $2,500. Bear in mind that this type of installation is a big project that needs a high level of expertise. Professionals will charge accordingly!


Clerestory windows can be costly and require a lot of careful planning and effort to install. Your home will need fairly extensive alterations if you don’t have existing spaces for the windows. If you live in an apartment block, especially on the upper floor, this type of installation might be impossible.

If your existing or planned home is a modern design with large open-plan interiors or a spacious studio with a high ceiling, then clerestory windows are ideal. Even though they were designed originally for ancient buildings, they can be adapted to perfectly suit an ultra-modern environment. You can also expect to enjoy the added health benefits that natural air and sunlight offer!

Bottom line? If your budget can handle it, and your home has the right type of architectural features, clerestory windows are some of the most stylish out there.