So you’ve decided, for one reason or another, to replace your windows. Good for you! It’s one of the wisest decisions you’ll make toward improving your home. Don’t know where to begin? This post is here to guide you, to help you get started right so your window replacement project goes off without a hitch.
What to Expect with Window Replacement
When you opt for a window replacement, you’re choosing to replace your old window with a better one, one made with newer technologies and to a more modern design. You could be doing this out of a need for better energy efficiency in your home, to spruce up your home’s existing look and aesthetic with something new and different, or simply to replace old and worn-out parts of your home that aren’t up to doing their jobs anymore.
BEST FIT: Professional window installation ensures product quality and reliable craftsmanship.
It’s important to note that only the window itself is being replaced. While the entire window assembly, right down to the frame, will be removed and a new one put in place, it will not correct any structural defects that might have crept up on your home. If the underlying and/or surrounding sections of your home are themselves in disrepair, then replacing the window won’t solve anything. If you’re replacing your old window in a bid to fix problems in your home, you need to make sure first that the problem is, actually, with the window itself and not originating elsewhere.
Window replacement follows a general process that begins with an in-home consultation. Use the opportunity to gather all the information you can from a window professional. For your protection, make sure that a contract is in place before any kind of work begins.
Also read: Ultimate Guide to Home Exterior Repairs
Material Choices: What are Your Options?
One of the more important choices you will make about your new windows is what material they should be made from. Not only do different materials present a different overall look, but their different material properties mean that, depending on climate or your specific situation, certain materials might be more suitable for your home than others.
Wood is probably the material most familiar to most. Windows made from wood are generally acknowledged to be the most attractive, aesthetically; one of the selling points of some of the other window materials is just how well they can mimic the look of wood. Because wood is so common and familiar, it’s the look of wood that tends to stick in people’s minds when they think “window.”
As a window material, wood, with proper care will last a long time. That proper care, however, is crucial: wood, more than any other window material, requires regular upkeep to keep it in good shape. Lacking regular care, wood can absorb moisture and swell, and can rot or be attacked by wood-boring insects. Wood is also the most expensive of the different window materials used today.
BEST MATERIAL: Composites can be made to look like wood, offering the charming appeal of the traditional material without its disadvantages.
At the other end of the cost spectrum is vinyl; its being the most inexpensive of the different window materials is one of its major selling points. Vinyl also requires very little maintenance, which is its other main difference from wood.
As a material, vinyl is a good insulator, and hollow areas in the window frame can be filled with extra insulation, enhancing its insulating ability beyond that of wood. Vinyl is not subject to rot or moisture intrusion the way badly-cared-for wood is, nor is it generally affected by temperature variances. Vinyl, however, cannot be painted, and while it is available in a large variety of colors, those colors can fade over time; to avoid that washed-out look of old vinyl, your only real option is to replace the window.
For many, aluminum makes a good alternative to either wood or vinyl. Though not quite as inexpensive as vinyl, aluminum is also quite affordable, and is lightweight and strong, and requires little in the way of maintenance. Aluminum, however, provides little in the way of insulation, and will instead conduct heat readily.
As an alternative to all these, many companies offer proprietary composite materials for their windows; Renewal by Andersen, for example, makes windows out of a material called Fibrex, which is made out of a combination of wood fibers and thermoplastic polymers.
As a window material, Fibrex is able to mimic the look of wood, and at the same time requires little in the way of maintenance, provides excellent insulation, and is not subject to rot or attack by insects. It can be painted, and is also available already colored straight out from the factory.
Clear and Simple: Window Glass Basics
The options you choose for your window glass are just as important as those for the frame itself. It’s important to note that dual-pane windows are now the industry standard. The two panes of glass, with a gas fill between them, provides superior insulation compared to single-pane windows. Dual-pane windows also keep air leakage at bay, which also allows them to block out sound better.
MINIMIZE HEAT: Low-E window glass can reduce heat transfer by up to 50%.
As for the window glass itself, options are available depending on the kind of performance you need from a window. For instance, if you’re looking to improve energy efficiency in your home, low-emissivity, or low-E, glass is the way to go. Low-E glass features a microscopic metallic oxide layer that filters out solar heat to reduce heat transfer by 30% to 50% without impeding the level of natural light that a window lets in. Impact-resistant and tinted window glass are also available.
Putting It All Together
CHECK YOUR GOALS: What you need out of a window helps determine your choices in window options.
Your reasons for replacing your old window, as well as your specific requirements, will determine what kind of window you should choose to purchase. Keep in mind that options are available to you. Getting to know your options is crucial in zeroing in on the best one for you. Should you have more questions about window replacement, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a window expert in your area.
With more than 12 years’ experience in the home improvement and home comfort industry, Robert Jackson leads the Renewal by Andersen of Atlanta team, lending his extensive training and know-how to the company every day. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two little girls and the family dog. He enjoys woodworking and photography.
Robert has more than 12 years of experience in the home improvement and home comfort industry. This depth of expertise helps him lead Atlanta’s top team for replacement windows and doors. Robert has been certified by the Building Performance Institute, an indication of the extensive training and experience he brings to work every day. When Robert is not leading the Renewal by Andersen® of Atlanta team, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two little girls, as well as the family dog. His hobbies (aside from being a Dad to his girls!) include woodworking and photography.