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post #1 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Windows per wall question

I may get tossed out of here - if I'm in the wrong section, but here goes:

Does anyone know what the window area to wall area ratio is? IOW's, how many windows can I have in a given wall and still maintain structural integrity?

My wife and I are planning a 28' x 24' garage shop and want to have a much glass as we can safely have on the North wall. I have not had a chance to get these details from a contractor because we are still in the rough bidding process.

I have drawn up four 4' wide windows along the 28' wall but this may not be advisable.

Any comments or suggestions will be most welcome.
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post #2 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 08:27 PM
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Don't mean to sound like a smart ass, but greenhouses are pretty much ALL glass. I'm guessing you have already designed yourself into certain other parameters, and they're so obvious to you that you didn't think to tell the rest of us what they are. I do that all the time.
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post #3 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 08:52 PM
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The number of windows is directly proportionate to the size of the budget. There are many, many structural options out there to overcome pretty much any open span situation. An entire wall, floor to ceiling, of frameless glass is not out of the question......
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post #4 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Johnny5 View Post
The number of windows is directly proportionate to the size of the budget. There are many, many structural options out there to overcome pretty much any open span situation. An entire wall, floor to ceiling, of frameless glass is not out of the question......
Your words are magic to my ears because we both like to paint and Northern light is superb because it seemingly never changes from sunup to nearly sundown. I also plan on tying flies like I used to do several years back, so the more windows this North wall has the better we will like it.

I did all of my woodworking in a basement in Chicago and positively cannot wait to begin work in a nice workshop with natural sunlight.

I appreciate your comments.
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post #5 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SteveEl View Post
Don't mean to sound like a smart ass, but greenhouses are pretty much ALL glass. I'm guessing you have already designed yourself into certain other parameters, and they're so obvious to you that you didn't think to tell the rest of us what they are. I do that all the time.
No offense taken at all.

Our plan is the have the 28'x24' garage-shop have as much glass as is possible on the North 28' wall. The South wall will have a 16' garage door which we hope can be opened in cooler months and allow the sunlight to enter and warm the concrete floor. The East wall will have three 4' wide windows evenly spaced. The West wall will mostly be blocked by our existing 14' wide one-car garage which is used as a tool shed. This will help block the hot summer sun during the hotter summer months.

Walls will be 2"x6" with a 9-10 foot ceiling covered with a 12" flat roof each insulated appropriately.

Thanks for your comments.
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post #6 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 10:01 PM
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There are two considerations when building an exterior wall with a lot of windows. Whatever sections of the wall that are NOT window will be the bracing that keeps the wall square and sturdies it from racking. Whether it be diagonal bracing or the wall covering itself. Over the windows as you well know there needs to be an adequate header to carry the load over the windows. Since you are building on concrete you have the opportunity to place steel posts within the walls bolted to the floor, and even a steel beam header over the windows. Both of these will allow you to put just about as much glass as you want. But remember this. Any garage with 2 overhead doors can have a 24' wall with 16' or even 20' of opening (the doors) without issue. Again it goes back to how you keep the wall from racking and using an appropriate size header.
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post #7 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 10:08 PM
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Sounds like a plan to me!

As for the framing of the wall, you could have a steel beam put across the top with posts on the corners to support the roof and have the walls tied into that.

Think about the beam that runs across your floor joists in your basement. They generally aren't that big and sometimes support a massive amount of weight depending on how your house was built.


One thing you may have already considered is that your gaining alot of sun light coming in those windows but you will be exposing your shop to people looking in.

Do you want these windows to open?
Have you considered glass block? They make pretty clear styles and they will have alot better R- value than standard windows.
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post #8 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Amen!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moark Willy View Post
There are two considerations when building an exterior wall with a lot of windows. Whatever sections of the wall that are NOT window will be the bracing that keeps the wall square and sturdies it from racking. Whether it be diagonal bracing or the wall covering itself. Over the windows as you well know there needs to be an adequate header to carry the load over the windows. Since you are building on concrete you have the opportunity to place steel posts within the walls bolted to the floor, and even a steel beam header over the windows. Both of these will allow you to put just about as much glass as you want. But remember this. Any garage with 2 overhead doors can have a 24' wall with 16' or even 20' of opening (the doors) without issue. Again it goes back to how you keep the wall from racking and using an appropriate size header.
Great post!!

I had not thought about using steel in the North window wall. I will definitely bring this up to our contractor. You comment on the garage door opening was spot-on! I do not think our double-car garage in Chicago had much over a foot and a-half of 'wall' on either side of the garage door and it never fell over. That was an awesome point.

Thanks so much for taking the time to post your comments. I feel much better about all of this now.
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post #9 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by chicago View Post
I feel much better about all of this now.
Based just on us hacks on an internet forum? Hopefully you're not hiring any ol' contractor with a song and dance. They might actually know structural design, and they might just look good on stage. Suggest taking your ideas to a pro structural eng or architect, and the local building inspectors.

If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!
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post #10 of 42 Old 04-15-2014, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJoe16 View Post
Sounds like a plan to me!

As for the framing of the wall, you could have a steel beam put across the top with posts on the corners to support the roof and have the walls tied into that.

Think about the beam that runs across your floor joists in your basement. They generally aren't that big and sometimes support a massive amount of weight depending on how your house was built.


One thing you may have already considered is that your gaining alot of sun light coming in those windows but you will be exposing your shop to people looking in.

Do you want these windows to open?
Have you considered glass block? They make pretty clear styles and they will have alot better R- value than standard windows.
Thanks for your great comments.

Direct sunlight is a concern which is why we plan on only having three windows on the East side of the building. There is a range of granite spires (the Organ Mtns) east of us which causes the sun to 'rise' a bit later than normal. This keeps some of the direct sun from reaching us in the early morning. However, once the sun rises above the Organ's things can really heat up in a hurry. In the winter months, the sun is not the heat threat that it is in the summer.

As to having the windows open or not, at the moment I would say that a nice cool breeze would be nice to have, but only time will tell on that. The glass blocks are not something that I had thought of. My wife was an interior designer for Herman-Miller for over 30 years and worked with architects for many years. She might like that idea. The R-value of the glass blocks is a great point.

One thing that I am keenly aware of is the rattlesnakes. Keeping the garage door open during the summer month is not a very good idea which is why having open windows is way smarter. We live on about 4 acres of land and the rattler's are much more of a threat than prying eyes.

Thanks again.
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post #11 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 12:44 AM
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Check your local building codes.

Where I am there are minimum and maximum fenestration/square footage ratios that are tied directly to energy consumption.

There are different types of glazing systems that are part of this overall equation.

There are also code requirements regarding egress that take into account a minimum opening size, how the windows operate and what room they're in.

Its not as simple as it may seem.

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his
sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

Jack Handey
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post #12 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 12:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicago

Thanks for your great comments.

Direct sunlight is a concern which is why we plan on only having three windows on the East side of the building. There is a range of granite spires (the Organ Mtns) east of us...
Las Cruces?

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his
sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

Jack Handey
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post #13 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicago View Post
Thanks so much for taking the time to post your comments.
And you are very welcome. Good luck with your project.
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post #14 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jharris2 View Post
Check your local building codes.

Where I am there are minimum and maximum fenestration/square footage ratios that are tied directly to energy consumption.

There are different types of glazing systems that are part of this overall equation.

There are also code requirements regarding egress that take into account a minimum opening size, how the windows operate and what room they're in.

Its not as simple as it may seem.
Thank you for your insightful comments.

Today I plan to pay a visit to the local county Building Inspector's office and see what they have to say on the matter. Since this is a garage that will be used as a workshop a little voice on my shoulder is telling me to be careful that I do not go overboard least they begin to think this will be a 'living space' rather than just a plain old garage. They may question me as to why we want so much glass on the North wall. I will know more when I return from my visit. I just want to keep this process as simple as possible.

Las Cruces? Yes, we're in the Southern part of NM not too far from El Paso. I used to work at the Chevron Refinery there a few years back.

Thanks again for your help.
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post #15 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 01:09 PM
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As long as there is sufficient structure to hold the roof up you could put as much glass as you wanted. Commercial buildings support the structure with steel so they can use a lot of glass.
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post #16 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul
As long as there is sufficient structure to hold the roof up you could put as much glass as you wanted. Commercial buildings support the structure with steel so they can use a lot of glass.
Residential building codes and commercial codes are quite different.

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his
sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

Jack Handey
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post #17 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 03:51 PM
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Residential building codes and commercial codes are quite different.
There may be architectural codes restricting the amount of windows but I don't think a building inspector would object to an I beam holding up an exterior wall, especially one story. I often use a 10/26 I-beam when taking out a bearing wall.
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post #18 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 06:06 PM
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Counting doors and windows I have 15 across my back wall.
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post #19 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicago
Your words are magic to my ears because we both like to paint and Northern light is superb because it seemingly never changes from sunup to nearly sundown. I also plan on tying flies like I used to do several years back, so the more windows this North wall has the better we will like it. I did all of my woodworking in a basement in Chicago and positively cannot wait to begin work in a nice workshop with natural sunlight. I appreciate your comments.
It is structurally possible to have glass as your exterior floor to ceiling corner to corner all the way around your building.

We live in Australia so for us it is the southern light that is the thing. On my workshop / man cave my southern wall will be all glass. I will also have a south facing 'wall' in my roof to give more window space.

The building can be done if doing from scratch or major alterations to have overhangs, canter levers and internal bracing.

Local building code should not dictate amount of glass but may dictate thickness and type for safety and thermal reasons. There may be aesthetic considerations too.

Having white walls and ceilings and a light floor on the interior is also going to help with light.

Dave The Turning Cowboy

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post #20 of 42 Old 04-16-2014, 08:24 PM
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What about skylights?
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