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When you’re in the market for new windows and doors, selecting the best products and contractors to work with can get pretty confusing. Knowing the right questions to ask your potential product and service providers can save you a lot of heartache and make your project much easier to do as well as faster to complete.
From a home value perspective, getting your doors and windows replaced can boost your home’s value, a plus if you’re in the market to resell the home sometime in the future. Door and window replacements offer one of the highest ROIs in home improvement; more than just making your home prettier, your choice of windows and doors can impact significantly on your home’s security and energy efficiency capabilities.
Meant to last for years – decades, even – your new doors and windows are likely to serve you longer and better if you carefully select proven brands and have them installed by the most reliable professionals you can find in your area.
The most important questions you need to ask are those specific to the products you’re considering, as well as questions for the service providers, i.e. your installers or contractors. Make short work of finding the best doors and windows, as well as the most suitable contractors by asking the yourself and your suppliers the right questions beforehand:
Questions to Find the Right Windows and Doors
Windows and doors protect us against environmental factors and unwanted visitors, so it’s essential that they be sturdy enough to resist intruders and be capable of keeping air from seeping in or escaping to the outdoors.
- Is the door/window equipped with adequate safety features, unexposed hinges and sturdy safety locks? These features are an assurance that your home is secure and can keep your loved ones safe and sound within the home.
- Does it have the ENERGY STAR label? The Energy Star label signifies that the product meets standards set by the US Department of Energy.
Look for products that carry this label.
- What is the R-value? R-value measures the product’s resistance to heat transfer. It is the most important measure of energy efficiency.
- What material is it made of? Steel, fiberglass, and wood are the top three material preferences for doors among homeowners. Each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks, so your final choice will boil down to what suits you and your lifestyle best. For windows, you should seriously consider the composite material, Fibrex, which flawlessly combines the ease of maintenance of vinyl and the beauty of natural wood. Also, unless you live somewhere where it’s often freezing cold or extremely noisy, ditch the idea of expensive triple-pane windows. Double-pane glass, especially e-glass, with a gas fill like argon, for instance, is your best choice in terms of energy efficiency and value for money.
- What design aesthetic will to suit my home best? Don’t choose a door just because it appeals to you at the moment, consider too whether it will clash horribly or blend in seamlessly with the rest of your home. The same is true for windows. Play around with colors and customization that’ll work for your home.
- Swing In or Swing Out? Most homeowners prefer swing-in doors and windows, especially in areas with snow where a swing-out door may be difficult to open once there’s snow build-up outside. Likewise, a swing-in window may be better for areas where outward-swinging ones could pose a hazard, such as in areas where there are walkways just outside, for example. Swing-out doors and windows are a good choice in hurricane-plagued areas, however, where they can provide a sturdier and more effective defense against gale-force winds.
- Are my locks sturdy enough? For your door, a dead bolt is your best defense against intruders. In any lockset, do look for at least a Grade 2 security rating (Grade 1 is even better, but may be a little prohibitive in price). Limit Grade 3 security rated locks to your interior doors; they won’t provide enough protection for you if used on exterior doors. Likewise, choose highly-rated burglar-proof locks to secure your windows. Consider price, safety features, and style when picking out suitable locks.
Make sure to get sturdy and secure locks for your exterior doors.
Questions to find the right company to work with
When you’re considering replacing your windows and doors, finding the most reliable company to take on your project can be a challenging. After all, your home is your most valuable investment and you certainly want only the best for youself; finding someone who can work with your budget AND bring you top-quality products and services at the same time can be quite a tall order. To find the company that can best deliver on your expectations, be ready to ask these questions:
- Are you local? As much as possible, you’ll want to work with a local company with both its offices and factory in your area. Local contractors will be more familiar with building codes and installation rules and regulations specific to where you live, know more about local processes, which variations in weather to factor in when picking out product for your home, and so much more. Additionally, it’ll be easier to visit their offices to follow-up on after-sales services and to lodge complaints, if necessary. It’ll also be possible to check on previous work done on houses similar to yours, as well as check out the company’s standing with the local Better Business Bureau.
- Are you a manufacturer-certified installer? Product manufacturers do warrant their products against defects, but warranties can be voided when the installation is done by workers who haven’t been appropriately trained and certified. Wrong installations can also lead to air leakage and other associated problems that can negatively affect your home’s capacity for energy efficiency.
Make sure your installers have appropriate training and certification
- Do you offer financing? At what payment terms? Sometimes cash isn’t readily on hand when you need to have your windows and doors replaced. Most reputable companies can offer in-house or bank financing to make it possible for you to have the work done now, when you need it. Easy installment terms can make making payments easier on you as well.
- What warranties do you offer? Apart from manufacturer warranties, contractors who know their stuff will have no problem extending service warranties on their workmanship. This can help put your mind at ease, should there by anything found faulty in the installation in the future.
- What sort of tax credits will I be eligible for? Replacing your doors and windows with more energy-efficient models will often qualify a home for tax breaks or credits. Find out from your contractor if there are any in your area that you can apply or qualify for.
Energy-efficient windows and doors may entitle you to tax credits.
There are many more questions you can ask, but this list should be good enough to provide you with the basic information you need. Remember, the decision on product and service ultimately rests with you. Be smart about your choices, and you’re sure to enjoy your new windows and doors for a long time to come.
Jason Rohde has held many positions, from sweeping floors to installer and tech measure, and now holds the position of General Manager. His extensive years in the industry have made him a true expert in his field. Jason’s goal, both personal and business, is to please every customer with a solution that makes them happy about investing in such a large-change remodel as windows. His happiest days are knowing that the customer and their family are warm, saving money, and happy with the experience. Whether it be a large project or one small window, the expectations are the same. When Jason is not working, you can find him spending time with his family, walking his dog, Brandy, or watching the Brewers, Packers, or Badgers.