All home renovations can be a difficult and stressful experience, especially when you don’t really know what you are looking for! To help take some of that stressful guesswork out of replacing your windows, we’ve put together this little guide of things to consider and how to get the best value and appearance with the highest energy efficiency from a reputable company that you can trust.
The window frame has more to it than meets the eye. Every window frame has chambers to prevent temperature exchange between the air inside your home and the air outside. The more chambers a frame has, the longer it will take for hot or cold air to enter your house. Some frames have 10 chambers, others have seven; an old or cheap window will have only two.
The outside of the window (the parts you can see) are often made of vinyl, wood, aluminum, or a combination of wood and aluminum. While there are a variety of reasons to choose each kind, vinyl windows will provide the best insulation in an easy-to-clean and long-lasting frame. Vinyl has great thermal characteristics with strong welded corners and a multi-chambered design. They are very low maintenance and will not crack or shift or require painting. They are also available in a variety of sizes and shapes to match your personal style.
Vinyl window frames can be painted, but not all painting is the same. Be sure to ask about paint warranties (10 years should be the minimum against undue discoloration, flaking or peeling) and try to use a company which paints the window frame and sash after they have been assembled, not before. Companies that pint the window frames and sashes before they have been assembled have to touch up the corners. This can look unsightly and the corner touch-ups usually fade.
The technology for creating window panes has continued to improve as energy efficiency becomes an important concern for most industries and consumers. The newest technology is glass coated with layers of low emission coating to reflect heat back to its source. This provides the biggest payoff in winter when heating from the house hits the window and bounces back instead of being lost.
Another aspect to consider if the number of panes you desire. Single-paned windows are generally no longer available due to their poor insulation properties but many older homes may still have them installed. Consider replacing these windows to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Doubled-paned windows have two panes of glass that are sealed around a pocket of air. This pocket of air is important for insulation purposes as temperatures will transfer more slowly through this sealed pocket than they will through the glass on its own. Triple-paned windows take this a step further and add an extra pocket of air for added insulation.
Before purchasing, check with the Better Business Bureau for membership and complaint status and consider who will be installing your new windows. You may prefer to purchase from a company that provides installation services in-house as employees are more likely to take the necessary time to make sure everything is done right. Employees will also be better trained with their specific products and therefore able to provide the best service. If you are using a contractor, be sure to check references and try to use a product they are familiar with to avoid any complications.