There are many reasons to replace the windows on your house: a new set of windows can give your house a subtle facelift; replacing a small window with a larger one makes for more light and a better view; and newer, energy-efficient windows can save you an average 25% on your energy bill. Whatever the reason for replacing your windows, it’s important to have a professional perform the work. Replacing windows isn’t a DIY project, and doing it yourself is unlikely to save you money in the greater scheme of things. When considering new windows it is best to research and do your homework on what’s best for your home and your family. Here are some different options to choose from:
Window Frame Materials
Vinyl Frame- They’re typically the least expensive and do not need to be painted or stained, but most are white and usually they can’t be painted. There are also fewer hardware options. Among casement windows, there is a little difference between vinyl and wood frames. Benefits: It is the least expensive and most energy efficient. Disadvantages: weaker material which means a thicker frame, less window to view out of. Does expand, contract and deteriorate over time.
Metal Frame- They are very light-weight, strong and maintenance free but also very affordable. They conduct heat rapidly, which means they have poor insulation. If you have a thermal strip between the frame and sash then it will reduce the thermal load. Benefits: It is thin, inexpensive, solid & strong. Disadvantages: Very low energy efficiency and not very durable.
Composite Frame (Fibrex)- They have more durable and lasting finishes than traditional wood and are very stable in any weather condition which prevents damage to the finish. Benefits: Thin, doesn’t expand or contract, high energy efficiency and durable material. Disadvantages: expensive.
Fiberglass Frame- They’re relatively new. While you won’t have to paint them, they can be painted. Fiberglass needles embed the plastic to make it stronger and stiffer, but there aren’t many brands available. Benefits: Thin and high energy efficiency. Disadvantages: It can deteriorate over time and is on the expensive side.
Wood Frame- Most are solid wood, though some may include composite materials (plastic with wood fibers embedded). You can choose from a variety of hardware finishes, allowing you to pick a style that matches your home. Benefits: It’s beautiful and high-energy efficiency. Disadvantages: High maintenance to preserve durability and the most expensive type of material.
TYPES OF WINDOWS
They look like double-hung but only the bottom sash moves. They usually cost less as a result. The top sash is sealed to keep out cold air and water.
They’re hinged at the top and open outward allowing for ventilation even during a light rain. Often used in combination with other window styles or placed higher on walls for privacy. Very easy to open and close. Like casements, the sash presses against the frame so they close very tightly.
They are similar to awning windows but in reverse, they’re hinged at the bottom and can open either inward or outward. These are commonly used in basements. Some hopper windows utilize the compression seal as well. In a lot of cases, they rely on weatherstripping to fill up that space. This decreases the energy-efficiency.
Fixed windows are non-operational and designed where lighting but not ventilation is important. They’re airtight and are available with decorative glass accents or in unusual shapes. These are commonly coupled with awning and casement window to add a contemporary look or to add extra natural light.
Some other things to look for when window shopping
Casement Style Windows- This type of window is hinged on the side or on the top. They are opened with a crank and the window opens outward. They are excellent for natural ventilation especially here in Arizona. They can be hinged to open outward and angled in order to direct breeze into the building.
Tilt-In Sashes- On single and double hung windows, the sashes (the moving part of a window) can be tilted in for easy cleaning. Nearly all brands have this feature.
Cladding- Wood-framed windows are clad in aluminum vinyl or fiberglass to protect the wood from the elements and eliminating painting. They tend to be the most expensive but are more attractive than other materials. Many brands offer various wood types, such as pine, maple, and oak for the interior. It can either be painted or stained at the factory or do it yourself.
Double or Triple Hung Glazing- Double glazed windows have a sealed space between two panes of glass filled with air or gas. Gas provides better insulation and its standard on many windows, but the energy savings won’t justify paying more for it. Triple-glazing adds a third layer of glass, which reduces noise significantly. Energy savings are improved, but not enough to justify the cost in all but extremely cold climates or where there is a constant and very loud noise (near airports or major freeways).
Low E-Coating- It’s transparent and improves the efficiency of the glass by reflecting heat yet letting light in. The coating is applied to the outside glass in warmer climates to reflect the sun’s heat in. But keep in mind that any coatings applied to glass, no matter how transparent, reduce the visibility.
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