When considering replacement windows, the options are abundant. To choose windows that will be long-lasting for your home and meet your budget, having the information to make an educated choice is important. Usually, if you are considering replacement windows, you are interested in improving the value and efficiency of their home, or the current windows have started to show signs of failure. But not all concerns you may have with your home’s windows necessarily mean they need to be replaced.
Reasons Your Windows May Need Replaced
You may be considering replacement windows due to the age or functionality of the windows in your home. Windows that cause a draft or are difficult to operate can be a sign that its time upgrade. If you are seeing signs of damage to the frames or areas around your window, it is likely they will need to be replaced. Check out our blog about How to Tell if Your Windows are Damaged.
Ease of upkeep is a highly referenced reason homeowners are interested in upgrading windows. When the window is difficult to clean, has a storm window, or is made of a material that requires regular maintenance, many turn to newer models that are easier to clean and don’t require maintenance. Another reason you may want to upgrade your windows is to reduce drafts and create a more comfortable environment in your home. Energy-efficient windows will save on your energy bills, reduce chills, and maintain humidity levels in your home.
There are many options for repairing windows. Before determining if you want to repair or replace your windows, it’s important to evaluate the state of your windows to see if they are worth making repairs to. If windows or frames are rotting, sagging, or have fogged panes, repairing is usually not worth the time and cost involved. For minor repairs and to fix issues outside of these larger problems, repair is always an option.
If you have determined you need replacement windows, it’s time to start collecting information about the options available.
Window Material Options
When comparing window glass options, the important factors to consider are the U-factor and SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient). A good U-factor number is any rating of less than 0.30. A good SHGC depends on the weather in your area. SHGC is represented by a number between 0 and 1. The lower the number, the less solar heat it transmits. Whether you need a higher or lower SHGC depends on the climate, sun vs. shade, and other factors. In Kansas, we must consider both heating and cooling costs, depending on the season. Because of this, an SHGC of less than 0.4 is more efficient.
Most window options you look at will have energy-efficient, double-panes. You can further improve your window glass by also electing to have argon gas between panes and a Low-E coating on the glass. The low E coating is a very thin metallic coat applied to the glass to reduce solar heat gain. This coat won’t affect the amount of light that comes in your window.
Some combinations of options commonly used on Infinity windows are:
Low E1, Low U-Factor, High solar heat gain
This type is mainly used in colder climates. The Low E1 helps warm your home by allowing heat in and reducing heat loss. It is best used on windows with direct sun exposure.
Low E2, Low U-Factor, Medium solar heat gain
Low E2 is best for climates that have hot and cold seasons, like Kansas. It retains heat during the winter and keeps heat out in the summer.
Low E3, Lower U-Factor, Lower solar heat gain
Low E3 protects against solar heat but still lets light in. It is best for windows that have high sun exposure. This level of coating can also help reduce noise from outside your home.
Low E3/ERS, Superior U-Factor, Lower solar heat gain
This type has an extra coating on the interior side of the glass to reflect escaping heat back into your home. It provides the highest efficiency all year, in all conditions. The sound reduction is also a great improvement for homes near busy streets or high traffic areas.
Most window options on the market today are made of wood, aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass. There are pros and cons to different frame materials. The main considerations that need to be made are how thermally conductive the material is, durability and maintenance requirements, and the potential for expansion and contraction. These factors, along with glass options are combined to determine an R-value. Living in Kansas this is a very important factor to consider with our frequent temperature changes.
For this reason, we recommend Ultrex fiberglass from Infinity from Marvin windows. Fiberglass is less thermally conductive than aluminum and insulates similarly to wood. It has a far smaller shrink-swell factor than vinyl and any other material. Ultrex fiberglass is specially patented to withstand environmental changes and hold up to the elements.
Window Style Options
When looking at window styles, consider the opening method, shape, grills or lites, and colors and finishes.
Window Opening Types
- Lift open single or double-hung windows are a great option for cleaning ease. They are a popular choice and work well in just about any circumstance for you home.
- Glide open slider windows provide a good option when you need a wider window option such as a picture window, but still want to be able to open the window.
- Crank open casement or awning windows provide wonderful visibility because they don’t have a sash to obstruct views in the middle of the window. They also provide great ventilation with their swing-open design.
Window shapes can make a big statement and influence your home’s style. Rectangular windows are standard, but other style options can help create the style you are looking for. Architectural shapes such as bay or bow windows can provide great interest and eye appeal and increase your ability to match your home’s style. Specialty window shapes such as circular, round top, and other unique shape options create visual interest.
Colors & finishesExterior and exterior finishes should be resistant to fading. Most finishes provide protection against scratches, dents, or chips.
Grills & Divided LitesThe grill style can provide a great number of options for patterns. The grill itself can be placed between the glass to simplify cleaning or choose simulated divided lites for a more traditional look.
When choosing hardware, be sure it matches the overall style of your window. Failing to match the final touch with your window hardware can throw off the style of your window. Hardware options come in all kinds of styles and colors, so you can find a perfect fit for your home.
Replacement Window Installation Consultations and Estimates
Even if you select the highest grade windows, if they aren’t installed properly, you won’t receive the benefits of your new upgrade to your home. Purchasing your windows from the contractor who will install them is a good way to make sure your windows are correctly installed. Your windows can also receive an installation warranty from the installer in case any problems arise later.
When your windows are replaced, you have options for installation as well. You can get a pocket replacement, where the new window is inserted into the existing frame. This is a great option if your window frames are still in good condition. But if your windows frames are experiencing rot, sagging, or are no longer sound, you will need a full window replacement. This involves completely replacing the frame, sill, and jams.
Another consideration to make is if you will replace all your windows at once or a few at a time. Depending on how long you wait between replacing each window, some styles may change and not match perfectly. A good strategy is to replace windows on one side of your home or one story at a time if your budget doesn’t permit you to replace all the windows at once. If it’s an area that is out of the way, replacing just a few windows won’t stand out too much.
Getting an Estimate
When it’s time to get an estimate from a window manufacturer and installer, you should expect to cover these main topics.
- Problems: What kind of problems have you experienced with your current windows? What issues are you looking to solve? How long have these issues been occurring? What alternatives to replacement have you tried?
- Appearance: What do you like about the windows you currently have? What would you like to change? Is there a particular style, color, or product you are interested in? Look at options in person if possible so you can envision them in your home.
- Operation: Are there exterior noises that cause problems you would like to reduce? When cleaning your windows, do you have any concerns? If you are able to see options in person, test out the window operation. See if they open and close smoothly.
- Service & Warranties: Ask your contractor what their service policy is after installation and what warranties your windows are subject to. Are parts available if something should break? What are the costs for repairs or replacement if a portion of your window isn’t functioning properly? Infinity from Marvin (the windows we recommend) offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty to give you peace of mind. For full details on our Limited Lifetime Warranty, visit infinitywindows.com/warranty.
- Budget: Do you anticipate paying for your project all at once or on a payment schedule? What amount have you budgeted to take care of your project?
Project Timing: When would you like to start your project? Do you have a timeline in mind? Are there other projects that should be tackled at the same time?
Breaking your decisions into chunks can help decrease the overwhelming process of selecting windows for your home. At Midland Exteriors, it’s important to us that you understand all the options available to you. Our project consultants want to understand your priorities so we can guide you through your options and help you find a great fit for your home that meets your budget and solves any issues you have.