There are several reasons to purchase new house windows. You might want to enhance the look or resell value of your home. Maybe you’re trying to cut down on heating and cooling costs by replacing a drafty window or two. You might even want to pick something that gives your home a quitter, more peaceful environment.
Whatever your reasons are, choosing the right replacement windows for your home isn’t a simple task. How can you know which materials, types, and features are best suited for your humble abode? This buying guide is here to help you find the best option for your needs.
Window replacement costs are steep, often requiring homeowners to find some form of financing for their purchase. That kind of price tag is all the more reason to know exactly what you need in a window. What do you need, though?
Consider the type of weather your home receives each year. Do you need something that can block out near zero-degree temperatures? Does your area experience high winds, heavy rain, or excessive snowfall throughout the year?
Questions like these can help you narrow down your selection to the styles and materials your home windows need to have. For instance, a casement style window features a sash lock that works wonders at keeping cold air at bay. A double-hung style, on the other hand, can quickly release hot air from your home to help keep things cool.
Make a list of what your windows need to be able to do, then keep these in mind while reading this article. This will help you make the wisest decision on what aspects you’re looking for in a house window.
Choosing the Materials
Each material type has its pros and cons. However, type and cost do not always equal excellent performance. Choosing between a wooden, vinyl, or fiberglass frame has more to do with aesthetics than anything else.
The majority of wooden frames are solid, with a few being made from composite materials such as plastic with wooden fibers. The benefit of wood is that it gives you a wide variety of finishes to choose from. This allows you to pick out a style and color that suits your home’s exterior.
Wooden frames tend to be thicker than other varieties. This does not always mean that they block out more air, but it does give them added weight to support an air conditioning unit. You can also re-paint wooden frames with ease.
This is the budget-friendly option and comes exactly how it looks. Vinyl cannot be painted, comes in fewer hardware options, and often has a streamlined look. There isn’t much of a difference in window quality between wood and vinyl frames, making this an excellent option if you want to save on cost.
Fiberglass has taken over vinyl in the past decade thanks to its stronger and stiffer design. They are similar in appearance to vinyl but can be painted to match any color schemes in your home. While few brands carried these models in the past, you can find them almost everywhere today.
Choosing the Glass
Glass, which includes the movable part of the window, comes in several styles. Different hinges offer varying degrees of ventilation, among other benefits.
Casement house windows offer the largest viewing field available and are hinged on one side like a door. This style opens outward via a crank, providing an ample space for cool air to flow in and warm air to escape.
You can expect casements to block out more air and water than most when closed thanks to the sash locking against the frame. If you experience heavy rains or high winds, then this might be the best option for you. On the downside, these windows do not support air conditioners.
The double-hung option remains popular thanks to its ability to support a full screen while allowing ample ventilation. Their ability to block out rain and air is on par with casement styles, and most can support a window air conditioner. By opening the top and bottom sash, both windows tilt outwards, which also makes them easy to clean.
These look exactly like the double-hung variety, one window on top and one on the bottom, but they only feature a bottom sash. This tends to make them cheaper by default while also blocking out more air with a fixed top window.
These windows are hinged at the top and open outwards by turning the sash at the bottom. Typically, these come with a fixed base window for added air resistance. Their ability to save on energy bills is on par with casement style windows.
Hopper style windows are the exact opposite of awning styles. They are hinged at the top, opening up from the bottom. Usually, they can open both inwards and outwards.
Fixed windows do not open. This is an excellent option if you want to allow extra light in the room but do not need ventilation. Since they don’t open, fixed styles are airtight. You can also find dozens of decorative stylings to bring out the finer features in your home.
Choosing the Right Features
Once you’ve narrowed down your material and glass options, the next step is to look for a few specific features. Here are a couple you may want to keep in mind.
Window cladding is often used on wooden frames to protect them from the elements. Cladding is usually made from aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass and makes for an attractive looking finish. While it isn’t necessary, it can help to extend the life of your frame.
You can find both double and triple glazed windows, which add a layer of air and gas between to panes of glass for added insulation. Double-glazed windows are excellent energy saving options, while triple-glazed windows are mostly used in noisy areas like the city or near airports.
If you live in a warmer climate, you might want to consider an outside coating for your window. This transparent layer reflects heat from your home while letting the light in. If you live in a colder climate, then you might want a coating applied to the inside in order to keep the heat in. Both options are great energy savers, but keep in mind that any coating will slightly reduce your visibility.
Single and double-hung variants often feature a tilt in sash or the moving part of a window. This makes cleaning a breeze, especially if your windows are going to be installed on the second floor or higher. You might be able to find other varieties that include this feature as well outside of their usual operation method.
How to Save on Cost
If your current frames are in pristine condition, then you might be able to cut costs by opting for partial replacement units. You might find them listed as pocket replacements, too. These money-savers fit right into your existing frames, offering an upgrade over your current glass.
Full replacements include the frame, sill, jamb, and a nailing flange, all of which tack on added cost to your windows. If you do need the full set, look into Energy Star certified products for a tax credit or state rebate on your home.
Finding an Installer
Proper installation is key to getting the look and the energy-saving benefits you want. While styles may look similar across the board, most companies train installers for the specific products they offer. Taking advantage of the service these individuals provide is highly recommended.
To ensure the job is done right, you might want to use the same contractor and installer from start to finish. However, you can find both American Window and Door Institute and Installation Masters certified installers online to hunt for multiple bids.
Quality installers will inform you of the brands, sizes, and types they are familiar with. They also notify you of their costs upfront, which could help you to find a lower price than the one offered by the contractor.
Top Brands to Consider
Andersen and Marvin are often considered leaders in the window industry, but there are plenty of quality brands to choose from. Most manufacturers market multiple brands, but only to authorized installers. For instance, Lowe’s will not have the same windows as Home Depot. Here are some top-rated brands to get your search started.
- American Craftsman
- Ply Gem
- Weather Shield
When shopping through these brands, look for the Energy Star rating to ensure the window meets your energy saving requirements. You can find almost all of the styles discussed in previous sections from these top brands, and no one is necessarily better than the other. Just choose something that meets your home’s requirements and provides the quality you are looking for.