Buying New Windows: Seven Critical Factors You Need To Consider


Installing new windows can be an expensive undertaking. You can make the most of your investment by learning the facts about the different window options available and choosing the best one for your home. Here are seven critical factors you need to know when you are considering installing new windows.

New Window Installation

New Vs. Replacement Windows

When you install new windows, the entire trim and frame around the window will need to be replaced along with the window. You can save on labor costs if you want only to replace the window and keep the existing trim and frame in place. If they are in good shape and you do not wish to change the size and shape of the window, then choosing replacement windows can be a less expensive option.

If you are looking to create a whole new look and feel to your home by installing a different size or type of window, then new windows will need to be purchased. With new windows, you can change the size or shape of the opening and this can add more labor cost. Whether you are choosing new or replacement windows, your window installation contractor can order stock sizes or custom order different sizes depending on the window manufacturer.

Choosing The Type Of Window

If you are replacing your windows, you may choose to install the same type of window that is in your home now, or you may want to think about another option.

Most homes today have single or double hung windows. With a single hung window, the bottom window slides up to allow fresh air to flow in. With double hung windows, both the top and bottom window panels can slide up or down. The advantage with the double hung window is that you can slide the top window down which can be a safer option if you have young children in the house. It would be much harder for them to fall out of the window. Double hung windows also give you greater control over the air flow from the open window.

double hung window installation in chicago
Double Hung Window Installation

Casement windows consist of one large sash that is hinged vertically. The window usually has a lever that opens the window by swinging it out.

Awning windows are hinged at the top and they open by tilting the window out from the bottom. Awning windows can be a great option for roof windows, or areas of the house that are pitched at an angle and would not operate well at a slant. Awning windows are sometimes used in bathrooms to allow steamy air to escape quickly. They are also used near coastal areas to allow maximum air flow.

Slider windows simply slide open from one side to the other. They can be an excellent choice when there is limited space to swing the window open.

Slider Window Installation
Installation Of A Slider Window

Fixed windows, like picture windows remain in a fixed position at all times as they do not slide or open. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes or can even be custom made. Fixed windows may be a great choice to fit in a large expanse of window area. The glass in fixed windows can often be thicker and provide better insulation. The sacrifice with fixed windows is there is no way to open them, so air flow may be limited.

Window Frame And Sash Materials

You have most likely heard of wood windows, vinyl windows and vinyl clad windows, but which type performs best and which one should you buy?

Vinyl Windows are one of the most popular types of windows and are one of the best all around windows for good performance at a  reasonable price. They provide excellent insulation, are practically maintenance free and look great. They never require painting, staining or refinishing. Testing also shows that vinyl windows offer pretty much the same thermal insulation as wood windows.

Vinyl Clad Windows have a frame and sash made from wood but have an outer vinyl layer covering the exterior side only. This type of window combines the beauty of wood with the exterior protection and low maintenance of vinyl.  The exterior of the vinly clad window never needs painting or refinishing.

Wood Windows offer the beauty of a wood grain finish both inside and out. While the windows look attractive, they will need occasional painting or refinishing to keep them in good shape. They must also be treated periodically to avoid damage from moisture or rot. Wood windows have a higher insulation factor compared with aluminum or steel windows.

Window Glass

There are different types of glass used that can effect the thermal resistance in windows. Low Emissivity or Low-E Glass refers to glass that has an ultra thin layer on the surface which serves to reduce the amount of heat that can flow through it. Windows made with Low-E glass are more energy efficient than windows made with regular glass.

Window glass can also be made for improved impact resistance. With impact-resistant glass it may crack, but will not shatter glass shards all around. The occasional stray golf ball will not leave you with a huge pile of glass to clean up, and you can replace the glass when you can.

Ease Of Operation And Cleaning

Whether you are considering a double hung window, a casement window or otherwise, it is always a good idea to test out the window before making a final decision. Try opening and closing the window and using the locking mechanism to make sure they are easy to open and close.

Cleaning is also an important factor, especially if the window has grids. Some grids are now being placed in between the glass panels for easier cleaning.  Other windows offer removable grids. Also some windows, such as the single or double-hung windows tilt in for ease of exterior cleaning. No matter what window you are considering, it is important to find out how much time you will have to spend cleaning both the interior and exterior of the window.

Window Quality

When it comes to buying new windows, you will find all kinds of pricing. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. It is important to chose a window from a trusted and reputable manufacturer and have them installed by a reputable window installation contractor. When considering the quality of the window, look for something that is energy efficient, low maintenance and will hold up for many years to come.

Window Warranties

Be sure to carefully check the warranties offered by the window manufacturers. One critical concern would be the warranty against fogging between the glass panes as this a a very common complaint on insulated glass windows. Stick with a well-known company that has been around for a while as they are more likely to be around should your window have problems in the future.