Replacing old, outdated, or damaged windows with newer replacements might not be on everyone’s priority list—but windows shield you, your family, and your interiors from extreme weather conditions. They are (quite literally) your first line of defence against the cold, rain, and heat. As a property owner, you should be aware of the numerous benefits that come with replacing windows.
So, what should you consider when buying windows?
It might seem like an easy task, but there’s also a lot to take into account when buying window replacements. Aside from a design that complements the architectural style of your home, the best replacement windows also need to provide sufficient lighting and ventilation in any room of the house. Additionally, windows need to withstand the test of time and weather conditions. Durability, low-maintenance levels, energy efficiency, and functionality are what make a high-quality window.
We’ll walk you through the process of buying windows, speak to why they’re a good investment, and what to look for when choosing your new home features.
In this guide, you will learn about:
- The Signs It's Time to Replace Your Windows
- The Different Types of Windows
- Top Considerations for Buying Windows
- Features to Look for
- Window Replacement Cost
- Rebates and Grants for Replacement Windows
- Tips for Buying Windows
- The Importance of Window Warranties
- How to Choose a Replacement Window Company
5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Windows
High-quality windows should last around 15 to 20 years. Vinyl windows last even longer, approximately 20 to 40 years. Sometime after that though, you can expect to tinker and make a few repairs on your windows to keep them in optimal condition. You’ll have to replace the entire unit a few more years after that, both for safety and functionality reasons.
To help you determine if your windows need to be replaced, here are some of the signs to look out for:
1. Damaged Window Panes or Frames
Any kind of window damage should be fixed or replaced immediately. Not only is this a safety concern for anyone living in your home, but it also weakens your house’s defense against wildlife and natural elements.
If you have wooden-framed windows, excess moisture can cause the windowsill to rot on the outside of the house. This causes the windowsill to go soft, which might break if left unfixed.
2. Fogged Glass
Condensation gets trapped between the window panes, usually from a hole or opening that is barely noticeable. This problem typically only happens if you have double or triple pane windows. Double-pane windows have gas in them, so the fog-like appearance could mean that there’s a gas leak.
3. Sticky Windows
One of the most common concerns of homeowners is when their windows get difficult to open or close.
4. Drafty Rooms
Simple air leaks can cost you a lot of money in the long run. If you find that a room is getting cold drafts, it might be time to get new windows.
5. Costly Energy Bills
If you notice a spike in your energy bills, then it’s possible that your windows might be the issue. Consider replacing your windows with Energy Star-certified products to ensure your new home features are energy efficient.
Should You Repair or Replace Your Windows?
A window’s primary function is to protect the interior of your home from getting damaged by the elements outside of it. As mentioned above, it should be able to withstand extreme weather conditions while providing proper ventilation and sufficient light in any room. If you find that your windows have lost their key functions, then it’s time to trade the old in for the new.
So, the question now is whether you should repair or replace your windows.
If any of the following applies to your windows, then it’s time for a replacement:
- They allow too much noise to enter your home.
- The glass is cracked or broken.
- There are hot or cold spots on the inside or in between the glass windows.
- The window frames or sashes are rotting.
- The exterior casing is loose, missing, cracked, or rotting.
- You notice ice or frost to build up on them.
If the problems are minor, such as fixing a loose screw or patching up paintwork, then opt to get them repaired instead.
Different Types of Home Windows
Buying windows can be complicated. The amount of nuances that go into making this decision can confuse even a seasoned homeowner, so we’re here to help. Let this section of our homeowner’s guide answer the question: “What to consider when buying windows?” in an aesthetic sense.
The right manufacturers offer windows that have these key elements, maybe even more, depending on your home’s needs. Some of the different types of windows you’ll see are:
Single-Hung Windows & Double Hung Windows
These are a popular choice for homeowners who love conventional or traditional aesthetics. Windows of this type work best for Craftsman-style homes, modern farmhouses, colonial houses, and other similar conventional design styles.
These windows provide a great option for homeowners who want to maximize ventilation and get a clear view of the outdoors. Traditionally, you’ll find these types in Victorian homes or Colonial-style houses, but manufacturers sometimes have sleeker designs that fit well in a modern-looking home.
These allow airflow without exposing your interior to the elements, such as rain or snow. The best part? They’re great for almost any type of home.
Bay and Bow Windows
If you live in a downtown area or a busy city, you might see these window types in shops or apartments. Bay and Bow windows are characterized by a mixture of fixed and operable windows. They’re great if you have a space in your house that’s roomy or if you have a reading nook.
Essentially, these windows are inoperable but let in a lot of natural light. Unlike most of the window types above, picture windows are more versatile in shape because they don’t need to be opened. That’s why you’ll see a lot of these window types in either rectangular or circle styles.
Ultimately, there are so many other window types you can choose from for your house. For a comprehensive look at the different styles of home windows, read: “Your Guide to Choosing the Best Window Styles.”
Top Considerations for Buying Windows
Buying windows (or even just repairing them) can be stressful if you don’t know what you’re supposed to look out for. When looking for the best windows for home improvement, it’s not just about the aesthetic—the functionality and the materials used by the manufacturer matter just as much.
Believe it or not, choosing the right window plays a big role in your home’s overall safety, energy consumption, cleaning, and maintenance.
Window Style and Functionality
When choosing what to buy, first you need to know what to ask when buying windows. Are you looking to let natural light in? Or do you want windows that open fully for maximum ventilation? These questions will help you narrow down your choices. Usually, it comes down to two styles of windows: those that open and those that don’t.
Certain window types, such as awning or casement windows, fall under the first category. These all offer ventilation, natural lighting, and energy efficiency depending on where you live. But there are cons to these window types as well, since they are more prone to dysfunction. High-quality windows should be easy to maneuver, but over time, regular wear and tear will affect the mechanisms for these windows and make it harder for you to open or close them.
However, as mentioned above, there are types of windows that are largely inoperable, but let in a lot of sunlight in spacious rooms. These are called picture windows. Some of the pros to picture windows include:
- An increase in natural light;
- Cheaper than most window types;
- Better insulation; and
- More energy efficient.
On the other hand, you might have trouble with ventilation since picture windows don’t open. Cleaning will be an issue as well, since you’ll have to go outside to clean the exterior part of the windows. Additionally, since it offers great insulation, picture windows are prone to excessive heat gain in the house.
Window Framing Material
Window frames can be made from a variety of materials, and all have their own pros and cons in terms of cost, appearance, maintenance and energy efficiency:
Vinyl windows account for about two-thirds of the window market, and are increasingly becoming the industry standard. These types of windows provide maximum energy efficiency and are very affordable as well.
ProsConsMore affordable than most typesMinimal design optionsEnergy efficientFew colour and trim optionsDurable—will not easily rot or get dentedBetter insulation and sound proofingEasy to clean
These are the most durable types of frames, since fibreglass is stronger than vinyl or wood.
ProsConsResistant to fading and crackingCosts more than vinyl or wooden framesStrong insulation (more energy efficient)Requires more maintenance over timeWide variety of style options
Wooden frames offer strong insulation and good structural strength, but are also more susceptible to wear and tear.
ProsConsStrong foundation / structureNeeds regular maintenanceNumerous design choicesUpkeep costs will pile up over timeNatural insulatorSusceptible to damage from natural elementsCan match any other interior or exterior design choice
These are lightweight but durable frames, and require little maintenance. But, they are poor insulators and tend to conduct heat faster than most frames.
ProsConsEasily customizable designs for any homePoor for energy efficiencyScratch and crack resistantMore expensive than vinyl windowsLightweight, strong, and durableEasily collects condensation, potentially causing rot and mouldNeeds regular maintenance
Replacement Window Features to Look for
- Double or triple glazing: For each window you install or replace, you need to decide how many panes of glass you want included. Double glazing is made with two pieces of glass sealed together with air space in between and triple glazing is three pieces of glass.
- Low-E coating: Also known as low-emissivity coating, this feature minimizes UV light without compromising the amount of visible light transmitted. Essentially, it means better insulation to prevent cold air escaping in the summer and warm air escaping in winter.
- Tilt-in sashes: A type of window where one frame is placed on top of another, and can be opened by sliding one frame over the other.
- Cladding: These are vinyl or metal covers that help preserve the wooden core and improve its weather resistance. They are usually found in frames.
- Insulated glass: These are designed to keep homes warm in the winter and cold in the summer.
- Safety: This usually involves the durability of the window’s frame and glass. When buying windows, this is one of the most important aspects to look into.
The Average Cost of Window Replacement
The overall window replacement cost will depend on the type of window and glass used, quality of materials, overall energy efficiency, and warranties included in your purchase. Generally, you can expect to pay between $200 to over $2,000 per window.
Canadian Rebate Programs and Grants for Buying Windows
In an effort to encourage people to adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle, the government launched several programs. The Greener Homes Renovation Rebate Program is one of them. This grant offers up to $5,000 on eligible retrofits completed after December 2020.
Another program is the Canada Greener Homes Grant, where the government offers interest-free financing for products and installations on eligible retrofits. Those interested in applying for the loan can get a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum $40,000.
The Home Efficiency Rebate Plus program (also known as HER+) is designed to help homeowners save more energy at home. This new and enhanced rebates program comes after a partnership between Enbridge Gas and Canada’s Greener Homes Grant was formed. The HER+ program will be eligible for Ontarians regardless of their heating fuel type.
Additionally, through the HER+ program, rebates will be provided towards the cost of eligible retrofits, such as home insulation, windows and doors, and renewable energy savings to help homeowners optimize energy savings. Applicants can get enhanced rebates of up to $10,000, and offset the cost of their EnerGuide home evaluation with an additional rebate of $600.
For more information, refer to “Government Rebates for Replacement Windows in 2023.”
Tips for Buying Windows
Replacing or buying windows isn’t easy, especially since many salespeople might be intentionally misleading in the information they provide. Some of the key tips we have are:
- Get more estimates. A wider range of quotes allows you to gain a better understanding of the landscape and competitor pricing.
- Look for promotions. Some companies offer off-season promotions or discounts.
- Stay true to your target! Focus on what you need to replace or repair first.
- Choose materials carefully. Doing adequate research will help you know which replacement windows to avoid.
- Consider inexpensive options first. Of course, take your home’s needs into account.
- Lastly, when buying windows, always sit on the estimate first—don’t jump into any decision without weighing your options.
The Importance of Window Warranties
Most window manufacturers offer warranties for their products, but the details vary and it’s important to understand the extent of coverage you’re getting.
Manufacturers that offer warranty support show they are confident in their product’s ability to stand the test of time while justifying the costs. A lifetime warranty will keep you from having to spend your hard-earned money on fixing the problem at a later time.
Clera Windows + Doors offers top-quality products for low prices to its customers. Our warranty is non-prorated and features a fully transferable factory lifetime warranty that covers all vinyl window components, hardware, and glass parts.
How to Choose a Replacement Window Company
Because you’re investing in your home, choosing the right manufacturer for your windows should be a top priority. During your research, consider whether the company has good-quality products by looking for certifications or recommendations. These are important because they attest to the product’s standards and how it meets rigorous quality assurance testing.
Consider the types of windows they manufacture carefully, and choose which one would be best for your home based on your location, the design of your house (both interior and exterior), and if you’re getting the best value for your money when you choose a replacement window company.
Check their history, whether they’re highly referred by other consumers, and how good the quality of service is.
Buy High-Quality Replacement Windows Made in Ontario
The best place to buy windows in Canada has always been Clera Windows + Doors. We are a family-owned business that has improved over 250,000 homes across all of Ontario. Our expertise in designing products and customer-centric approach has helped us become one of the leading companies in North America since 1978.
Buying windows has never been this easy. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our products, lifetime warranty support, or financing options!