Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Replacement Window
None of us have all the time we need to make any of the decisions in our lives today. Too many things are happening, too many changes keep coming, and too many choices to be made even if we can take the time to get the information in front of us. A replacement window would seem far down the list of important decisions. That is, until we need one and then, what type of replacement window do we need?
Some of us would blow right past this question. We’d simply say, “Replace the window with the type of window that was there originally.”
That’s a solution, bar none.
However, what if these questions come to mind:
- Do I want to keep using this part of the home the same way I’ve always used it?
- Don’t we need more light in this part of the house?
- The outside needs to take on more of the inside character of our home.
- We could make our home look and feel so much different is we did something different with the windows.
Now, that should get your mind going. It’s fine to replace the window with what you had, but don’t you think manufacturers have developed something a lot more efficient than the windows they sold when that one was installed?
- What’s the purchase cost when compared to the proven energy savings over a period of 18 months? Three years? Five years?
These thoughts should at least be considered before you just press on with the old without any consideration of the choices and options of the new.
The question also begs the consideration, well, how many different types of windows are out there?
Oh, you’re going to be sorry you asked that question. There are hundreds of window types and variations, not to mention accessories.
Originally most of us noticed windows as side hinged with sliding sashes. Now there are pivot hinges and friction closures and frame types of wood, vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass. Any manufacturer’s promotional pieces will give you more than enough to consider if you stay with the old or change with the new. It is highly suggested you measure your current window opening just to see if manufactured or custom built will be needed.
Difference Between New Construction Windows and Replacement Windows
The primary difference between a new construction window and a replacement window is the outer rim that allows the new construction window to be nailed directly to the rough opening between the construction studs. A replacement window has no need o the nailing fin because it most often is set into the old opening with fasteners. Just make sure the rough opening is not damaged or rotten. In such a case you’ll need a new construction window.
How To Choose A Replacement Window
Here’s a quick list of the defining decisions that lead you to choose a specific type of window:
A few introductory questions begin to bring into the focus the type of window you may acquire:
- What is the style of your home? Is it cottage, ranch, colonial?
- Is there a need to notice the style of your neighborhood? Is there a similarity among the exterior look and feel of the neighboring homes?
- Is there a construction permit or fee required?
- Is the window to be more decorative or practical?
- Do you want fixed pane or operable frame? (Do you want to open it or leave it without the option to open?)
- What is my budget? Will I set it once I know the prices, or will I decide the type of window and then bargain for the best price?
Window Types Most Common In Our Area
Single hung windows have an opening at the top or the bottom. An upper opening is primarily for more humid climates or locations. This allows the warmer air to escape at the top opening. The lower opening is used in moderate to warmer climates.
Double hung windows are the more traditional style. They have both an upper and lower opening. Some, if not most of the double hung windows can tilt inward or outward. This allows the pane to be cleaned from within your home. An absolute good choice for second story homes, no doubt.
Sliding or Gliding windows have at least one (maybe more) panel that moves along upper and lower tracks in a horizon slide. These allow for half window ventilation. These tend to be the easiest to operate because the weight of the window is not a factor.
Decorative or Accent windows almost always are fixed windows. This means the windows are non-opening. These windows are more for adding light to interior hallways and corners. They do not provide for any ventilation at all. Designs frequently have eight, six, or many sides.
Glass block windows are fixed, thick, very secure windows intended to provide light without clear visibility. Privacy areas, laundries, and exterior patios are frequent locations of these strong windows.
Hopper windows, commonly called basement windows, are hinged on the bottom so that the opening is at the top, allowing air passage through an exterior wall into the lower basement.
Projection windows extend beyond the common exterior wall of the home. These extensions can be bay windows set at 10 degree angles with three sections or can carry a curve at greater degrees (30-45 degrees) such as a bow window and the esthetics have no end to possibilities.
Picture windows do not open, but rather trim the exterior as if it is part of the interior, providing the greatest amount of unobstructed view just as a picture of the environment included in the experience of the inside rooms.
Casement windows are hinged on one side and most commonly crank outward or inward according to the preference of the home owner.
Awning windows are not merely those that have an exterior covering, such as an awning. These windows are just the same as the basement window, opening much higher up the wall and being able to allow ventilation even during a light mist.
Skylights can be either surfaced to the roof as a wide frame or tubular through the attic and can be fixed or operable.
Storms windows can be placed as a covering to your existing windows and by so doing can change the effectiveness of an older single pane window to be similar to a double pan window. The air pocket between the two windows can act as insulation.
Window Frame Options
Aluminum frames resist corrosion and don’t really take that much maintenance. They are readily available, light weight, flexible, and easily handled. This is an economical option to much more costly materials.
Vinyl or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) material comes with the color already baked in. That works well if you can match your color to your preference. These windows have empty chambers that make them both light in weight and resistant to common problems like thermal transfer or moisture collection.
Wood frames can be pre-primed on either the exterior, interior or both surfaces, saving you some time in painting. The advantages include a less effected material toward heat and cold and the opportunity to match any color preference possible. These are the more expensive materials.
Clad Wood is a hybrid material that comes as wood on the interior and aluminum exteriorly. The exterior can withstand temperature ranges and moisture, and thereby avoids the more common rotting of wood exteriors.
Glass Pane Choices
Glass panes can be evaluated at least by two dimensions: energy efficiency and visibility.
- Visibility can be effected by the size of glass, tinting of glass, or by glazing or glossing set at the factory or can be a post-install feature. The variety of visibility desired or the pattern of display has endless possibilities.
- Energy efficiency
- Layers of panes: double pane or triple pane. The argon gas sealed between the panes is a great temperature insulator. Sometimes a desiccant drying agent is also used for moisture control.
- Low-E glass is a coated pane that reduces the UV (ultraviolet) light rays from entering the interior of the home. This protects floor coverings and furniture exposed to the exterior light and prevents thermal pass through in winter or summer.
- A lower U value means a greater insulation barrier.
- SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) rates the solar energy with a lower rating to block the summer heat; a higher rating to allow warmth during the winter.
Checklist For Choosing A Replacement Window
- Do I want to repurpose my space and have the window help me do it?
- Will it fit in with all the decor?
- How do I get the use out of it I want?
- Type of window?
- Type of frame?
- Type of glass?
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Chicago, IL 60646