A guide to window reveals
What is a window reveal?
In its simplest form, a window reveal is the timber surround of the window unit; you might refer to it as the windowsill (although technically, only the bottom horizontal component of a window is called a ‘sill’).
While it sounds straightforward, reveals come in a range of specifications to help you achieve different aesthetic and functional goals throughout the home.
Before we get into the complexity of different reveal configurations and materials, let’s cover off some of the basics.
What does a window reveal look like?
Basically, a reveal is the timber surround of a window that the window frame itself is attached to.
Imagine this: if you sit a small pot plant against the window in your loungeroom so it can get some extra sun, you’ll likely rest the plant on the flat timber edge that juts out slightly away from the glass. This space is the window reveal.
This example shows a ‘boxed window reveal’, which is one of the most common types of reveal seen in a home.
While that’s a basic description of a reveal, the appearance of a window reveal can change depending on the type of reveal you use; they come in a range of different styles for various applications.
What is the purpose of a window reveal?
A window reveal is used to fix the window itself into the stud wall frame. The main purpose of a reveal—regardless of which type you choose—is to provide extra support to the aluminium frame of the window unit.
Did you know: There are some instances where you can install a window without needing a window reveal for additional stability. For example, if you’re putting a window into a single skinned brick wall—commonly used in residential garages—you can use ‘brick piers’ to stabilize the installation, rather than a reveal. However, around 90% of the time you see a window, there’ll be some kind of window reveal in the configuration.
While the fundamental purpose of all window reveals is to provide stability, each type is suited to a different function.
What are the main types of window reveal?
Let’s take a look at the most common types of window reveals, and the scenarios where you’d likely choose each one.
Boxed window reveal
The most common type of reveal is ‘boxed’. In this configuration, there is a window reveal fitted to all four sides of the window. That is, the flat timber surface jutting out from the glass exists on every ‘side’ of the window.
When would you use a boxed window reveal?
A boxed window reveal is generally used when you intend to fit architraves around the full perimeter of the window. A boxed reveal is available on all A&L Window products.
Here’s how a boxed reveal looks in the home:
No Bottom Reveal (also referred to as NBR)
The next most popular type of reveal is the No Bottom Reveal (we’ll call it NBR from now on). An NBR configuration is similar to a boxed configuration, but with the timber reveal removed from the bottom of the window.
Did you know: each side of a window has a specific technical name. The vertical ‘sides’ of a window are called jambs; the horizontal top is called the head; and the horizontal bottom is the sill.
With the above terminology in mind, an NBR configuration will feature a reveal on the head and both jambs, but not on the sill of the window.
When would you use an NBR configuration?
An NBR configuration is typically used in one of three scenarios:
- When a window is required to sit directly on the floor of a home (in floor-to-ceiling windows, for example). In this case, the flooring can meet directly with the window to create a sense of cohesion and continuity. This is most commonly used where the flooring of a home is tiles, laminate, or wood.
- In a bathroom, where the window is required to meet with the edge (or ‘hob’) of a bath. In this case, the bottom timber reveal is usually replaced with tiles. The purpose of this configuration is to guard against the timber material of the reveal being damaged by exposure to water from the bath.
- In a kitchen, where the bottom of the window is required to meet with a benchtop. In this case, the NBR creates the opportunity for the window to sit directly against the material of the bench (again creating a sense of seamlessness). This configuration is often used when the window is doubly functioning as a splash back.
Here’s how an NBR looks in the home:
Plaster return or ‘square set’ reveal
A plaster return reveal is similar to a boxed reveal, but it does not feature an architrave. As a result, there’s no timber window frame visible. This allows plaster to continue seamlessly from the wall into the glass.
When would you use a plaster return/square set reveal?
A plaster return reveal is generally used in a bathroom or a kitchen, because you can tile the plaster all the way up to the frame of the window. The tile then protects the plaster and reveal from water damage. Corking or silicone can be applied between the tiling and the window to create a sealant and protect against exposure to water.
Here’s how a plaster return/square set reveal looks in the home:
This image shows a Boutique Offset Plaster Reveal option.
Other reveal configurations
In addition to the three main types listed above, you have a range of slightly more sophisticated reveal options to choose from. The right reveal for you depends on functional and aesthetic goals you’re looking to achieve in the home. Alternative types of reveals include:
- Offset reveal
- NBR full height offset sill
- NBR full height inset sill
- NBR offset plaster reveal
- NBR full height inline sill plaster
And many more. Our experienced team members can help you choose the most appropriate reveal configuration for your specific needs.
What materials can I choose for a reveal?
Regardless of the type of reveal you choose, the finish will always be a variety of timber. We offer a range of timber options depending on your location.
In Victoria and Southern New South Wales, you can choose from:
- Medium Density Fibreboard (or MDF): An engineered product made from a combination of wood fibres from softwoods and hardwoods. The fibres are combined with a wax and resin binder and pre-primed, which eliminates the need for pre-coating.
- Finger Jointed Pine: A knot-free, pre-primed paint grade timber, joined end-to-end using a finger joint system. This joining method ensures timber offcuts can be repurposed, promoting a more sustainable approach to residential building. The strength of the timber is enhanced by glue bonds within the finger joints.
- Kiln Dried Hardwood (KDHW): A raw, hardwood timber—mainly Tasmanian Oak—the kiln drying process promotes robustness and strong protection against shrinking that can occur from overexposure to moisture.
In Queensland and Northern New South Wales, you can choose from:
- High Moisture Resistant Medium Density Fibreboard: Similar to Victoria’s MDF, but with added protection against the increased humidity associated with Queensland’s climate.
- Finger Jointed Pine: As per above.
- Light Organic Solvent Preservative Pine (LOSP): Treated with a spirit-based solvent to provide protection against decay caused by insects and termites. This option does not come pre-primed.
How do I choose the right reveal option?
There are no hard or fast rules as to which type of reveal should be used in any given situation. The choice ultimately comes down to your personal preference and where the window appears throughout the home.
With that said, it is helpful to consider the following questions before talking to a window specialist:
- Is there a requirement for the window to sit directly against the floor?
- Is the windowsill height set to be the same height as any benchtops?
- Is there a requirement for a window to sit against the edge of a bath?
- Are you using architraves consistently throughout the home?
- Is there any requirement to have tiling feature all the way to the glass in any window?
Looking for more guidance or information?
While window reveals might seem straightforward, there’s a subtle sophistication associated with choosing and implementing the right configuration for your needs.
For more insight into different types of window reveals that are available—and how they can help you meet different objectives throughout your home—get in touch with the team today!