Choosing the right windows for your home
- Thursday, 14 June 2012
- Written by 3Invest
Selecting new or replacement windows can be overwhelming with all the styles, materials and features to choose from. In addition, doing some homework before you make any decisions can save on headaches later on.
Upgrading to better quality, more modern and energy efficient windows can instantly add warmth and comfort to your home as well as additional value and curb appeal.
New Or Replacement?
One of the first decisions a homeowner must make is between “New” and “Replacement” windows. Here is the difference:
Replacement windows refers to when an old or poor quality window is removed without disturbing the surrounding trim (and/or frame), and is replaced with a new window that is designed to fit right into the existing opening. Replacement windows cost around the same as new windows, however there is less labour involved in the installation and therefore the overall cost is less. Replacement windows are a great option when the existing frame is still in good condition or when the trim is attractive and fits the décor of the home. Obviously the savings on labour costs are helpful when budget is a consideration. Depending on the manufacturer, replacement windows can be a stock size or they can easily be custom-ordered to fit any opening.
New windows would be chosen when the homeowner wishes to change the size or shape of the current window opening (generally enlarging) and put a completely new window in its place. This generally requires the work of a contractor to complete the installation and surrounding carpentry. Again, new windows generally do not cost more, however the labor does add to the overall price. A big advantage of new windows is that you have the option to completely change the appearance and feel of your home both inside and out.
Style Or Type Of Window
Once you have decided between new and replacement windows the next decision is the style or type of window you would like. The four most basic and popular types are listed below:
Single or Double Hung Windows
Single or double hung windows are probably among the most common windows seen in most homes. They are comprised of two separate “sashes” (the actual pane of glass in the inner frame), which open or close by sliding up or down. A single hung window opens from the bottom only by sliding up whereas a double hung window (which looks exactly the same) can be opened from either the top or the bottom. Double hung windows are ideal for creating wonderful ventilation when you lower the top sash. They are especially suited to homes where there are small children as they prevent the danger of a child climbing out the bottom window. (Remember: window screens do not support the weight of a small child.)
Casement windows generally consist of one large pane of glass that is hinged vertically on one side or the other, and opens by swinging open from opposite side. Usually a lever or other mechanism is used to open this style of window.
Awning windows are hinged horizontally at the top and are opened by tilting the window out from the bottom. As their name suggests the awning window creates the appearance of an awning. These windows are most popular in coastal areas and in bathrooms.
Slider (or Glider) Windows
Slider (or glider) windows – do just that. They slide open from side to side. These are an excellent choice when there is limited space outside to swing the window open such as in a casement window.
Once you have determined the style or type of window, next you have to consider materials. The most popular window materials today are wood, vinyl and PVC. There are also variations including “wood clad”. There are also aluminium frames but they are being used less and less.
Wood, of course, is beautiful and certainly resistant to heat and cold. However, the natural look that homeowners love means considerable maintenance. Besides periodic painting or staining, the wood must be treated to protect from moisture as it can warm, crack and stick.
Like their cousin, the vinyl fences, vinyl windows have become one of the most popular choices among homeowners. Vinyl is virtually maintenance free, provides excellent insulation, is reasonably priced and of course looks great!
Clad offers the beauty of wood on the inside with a vinyl coating on the wood frame outside. This offers the maintenance free feature that makes vinyl so popular.
Next you must choose the glass. Nowadays, as with every other area of our lives, advancements in technology have made choosing glass a lesson in science. Besides choosing between double-, triple- or even quadruple-pane you also get to choose the distance between the panes. As a point of interest – the additional panes of glass do not add to the insulating factor of the window. It is the air between the glass that provides the additional insulation. Nowadays, most companies offer a gas fill (usually Argon) that costs very little and insulates better than air alone.
Low Emissivity (Low-e) Glass
Low-e glass refers to glass with a special microscopically thin, virtually invisible layer of material on the surface of the glass. This serves to reduce the amount of heat that can flow through the glass itself.
Impact Resistant Glass
While if you wack this glass with a baseball bat it may crack, but it will not shatter and spread glass all over the place. The beauty of this glass is that under extreme weather conditions it holds up beautifully. And of course the occasional stray baseball won’t leave you with a big mess to clean up.
Let’s recap, new or replacement, style or type, materials, glass, and finally…
When choosing windows, one tried and true rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. While cost is certainly important, it is very important to choose a quality product made by a well-known company. It is imperative to choose a well-constructed product that will provide the energy savings with well-made mechanisms that will hold up over time.
Carefully examine the warranties offered by the various manufacturers. This is where a well-known company with a good reputation will serve you well. Companies that have been around for a while are more likely to be around in the future should your lever cease to operate.
Choosing a Contractor
There are several ways to find a good window installation contractor, but Danny’s recommendation is that you choose the product you want first and then seek a contractor who is especially trained by that manufacturer. For example, Pella offers specialty training to contractors so that they are specifically trained to install Pella products properly. Of course, as always, a great idea is to call your local Home Builder’s Association.
Source: Danny Lip Ford
Real Estate Investor Network