Replacing your windows is a big decision. Not only is it expensive, it can also be complicated. There are so many window options and installation companies to choose from these days; it’s hard to know where to start. To make the best decision possible, it’s important to do your homework before you pick up that pen and sign on the dotted line. Considering these critical questions before replacing your windows can help you make sure you get exactly what you want for your home.
1. Who Do You Want In & Working On Your Home?
The company doing the work is every bit as important as what window you get. There are no licenses or special training required, and, in most cases, there are no permits required.
General contractors are the most common type of companies that people deal with. They have a general knowledge of construction and the connections for sub-contracted labor and licensed trades like Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC. General contractors cannot be expected to be experts on every facet of every trade, so they typically depend on supply houses and wholesalers to guide them on what products are best.
Big-Box Retailers are the place to go when you want to do the shopping. Many are now the place to go when you want the stuff you shop for installed in your home. These retailers have a network of sub-contractors that will install the products you want. They also have significant buying power, but you have to get what they sell so no specialty stuff.
Specialty companies, like us, focus on two or three products and research every facet on that specific trade. They will have the most informative in-home consultations because they know that windows are not all the same. Specialty companies know that replacement windows are complex when it comes to how they are made, what they are made of, and who is making them. They also know that every home is different, so how the windows are measured and how they are installed must be as custom as the product for every household. If performance, beauty, and quality are high on your list, you want a specialty company.
2. What Type of Window Frame Do You Want?
Window frames are available in a variety of different materials, each one with advantages and disadvantages. There are several trends in window replacement for you to consider.
Vinyl is the most popular choice for window replacement, mainly because they are maintenance free, insulate well, and are relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, they’re usually only available in white and tan and can’t be painted. Some companies offer vinyl windows in dark colors, but they have been known to absorb heat. The good news: we offer vinyl windows in a range of shades with ThermaCoat technology, which keeps them from absorbing heat. We can even do black exterior frames with a double lifetime warranty on the ThermaCoat finish.
Aluminum windows are known for poor insulation qualities but opting for aluminum windows that are dual glazed, have a high performing low-E glass, and a thermal break can provide sufficient insulation. If you already have aluminum windows and don’t plan on replacing them, this may be an excellent choice to ensure your new windows match your existing ones. Aluminum windows are available in white, tan, and dark bronze anodized frames, which are ideal if you like the dark frame look.
Fiberglass windows are virtually maintenance free and insulate well. They are also available in a range of dark and light colors and can be painted to fit any aesthetic. When replacing fiberglass windows, the downside is that they are quite expensive, often in the same price range as high-end wood windows.
Wood windows are available with or without exterior cladding. Wood windows without exterior cladding are ideal if you’re restoring an old home and want to stay true to the look of the original windows. Unfortunately, they will require regular painting. If you want dual-glazed windows or windows with low-E glass, they will be about as expensive as clad wood windows. Exterior cladding is usually aluminum or vinyl and is available in a range of colors. Wood windows also tend to be costly and can be very expensive when retrofitting as you will almost certainly need special sizes/custom windows.
3. What Glass Options are Available?
Consider the right glass when replacing windows. It is imperative if you want the best performance from your windows, and options these days go far beyond just double and single pane.
Dual Pane vs. Triple Pane
As the name implies, a dual pane window is two layers of glass while a triple pane is three layers with a hermetically sealed air space between them. Remember this: the number of panes of glass will NOT determine the quality and performance of your windows. The quality of the glass, the quality of the low-E coating, how the coating is applied, how the argon fill is done, the quality of the spacer used, and the type of sealant used to hermetically seal the insulated glass unit will determine the performance and longevity of the glass in a window. Most insulated glass units fail in 10 to 15 years, and most manufacturers don’t cover labor to replace them so make sure you have a good warranty.
Low-E, or low emissivity windows, feature a high-tech coating that allows a large amount of natural light into your home while blocking heat and ultraviolet light. Because of their energy-efficient properties, low-E glass is considered to be the standard for new windows for most window manufacturers.
Low-maintenance coatings, also known as self-cleaning glass, are becoming more popular among window customers. While they aren’t exactly self-cleaning, windows with low-maintenance coatings do stay cleaner longer and are easier to clean when the time comes.
4. What is the Manufacturer’s Warranty?
Almost as important as choosing the right type of window is choosing the right window manufacturer. Many manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranties, but the problem there is that the definition of “lifetime” can differ significantly from company to company and with some limitations. This is especially important when choosing dual pane glass, which usually lasts between 15-20 years. If these windows fail, and you don’t have a solid warranty, the cost to replace them can be as much as the cost of replacing them in the first place. It goes without saying that a warranty is only as good as the company offering them, which is why we’re proud to offer one of the most comprehensive lifetime warranties in the industry. For more information, check out our windows page.
Replacing your windows is a big decision, one that should not be taken lightly. By asking yourself these questions and educating yourself on the options available, you can make the best choice for your home. If you need help or would like to discuss your options, feel free to give us a call at 940-898-9988. We’ll talk through all your options and help you make the best decision for your home.
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