Replacement Windows

The replacement of a home's windows is one of the most popular home improvement projects. It is also a costly project.

Here you will find the information you need to select the right replacement windows for your home.

    The information on this page will help you:

  • Save You $$$
  • Save Headaches
  • Save Energy
  • Improve the look of your home
  • Improve the comfort or your home, and
  • Decide if replacement windows might increase the value of your home.
  • Avoid high pressure sales pitches!

Index

  • Why replace old windows? The simple answer is that good quality modern windows work Today's quality replacement windows:

    • Have operable sashes that open and shut easily,
    • Require very little maintenance or repair,
    • Are energy efficient,
    • Can help reduce moisture and condensation problems,
    • Can be fitted with insect screens,
    • Can help cool and heat a home,
    • Come in many styles and shapes, and
    • Can match the style of almost any home.

    Replacing the old windows may also add value to the house, but that is the the hardest part to evaluate. An accurate calculation of the net value of windows in the sale of a home is almost impossible. Replacing windows is most likely the least compelling reason to replace the windows in your home.

    All of the above listed attributes make the replacement of old windows a very popular home improvement project. But as with any home project, it takes some planing to make sure that you end up with the desired results.

    The best reason for replacing your existing windows is likely to be a combination of factors that will help you enjoy your home.

  • There are also some good reasons not to replace your existing windows:

    • Don't replace your old windows just because this is going to save you money. Your new windows may save you some money in reduced heating or cooling costs but the amount you save will be relatively small.
    • Don't replace your old windows just because it will increase the value of your home. Having inspected thousand of homes, I have found very few (if any) home buyers how paid a lot of attention to the new windows in a home.
    • Don't replace your windows just because there is a "$500 discount" or some other sales promotion this week.
    • Don't replace old leaded glass or similar fine old windows that can be maintained or repaired. If you are fortunate enough to have some nice old windows that add character to your home, have them restored and if you like add storm windows to the outside. This will help you preserve the character of your home and while storm windows don't insulate as well as new windows, the difference is quite small.

  • Vinyl Windows

    The vast majority of new windows today are made out of Vinyl. Vinyl windows tend to be trouble free and require very little maintenance. But even with such a reliable product, selecting good materials and a good contractor requires informed and careful shopping.

    Almost all vinyl windows are white and can't be painted. Replacement windows can often be installed into the existing window frames and this allows for a variety decorating options. The existing frame can be painted to match the replacement window or be used as a contrast.

      A note about vinyl:

      I am not a great fan of vinyl as a construction product. I find many problems with vinyl siding and with PVC (vinyl) water lines. My biggest concern with Vinyl has to do with the toxicity of vinyl during the manufacturing and disposal processes.

      But I have now seen thousands of homes with well functioning vinyl windows and have to admit that they work well, are relatively low priced and seem to last. I am also hearing from the vinyl industry that more care is taken during the manufacturing process.

      So, my advice is that if you decide on vinyl windows get some very good ones and make sure that they are installed to last. That way you reduce the number of times that windows have to be manufactured and the amount of vinyl that needs to end up as waste.

      And what about wood and aluminum? Well the best wood comes from trees that are hundreds of years old and aluminum production uses a lot of electricity... In other words, there is no perfect window material.

      My biggest problem with vinyl windows has to do with the way they tend to be sold. All too often they are sold by commissioned sales people who's primary job is to sell windows and not to help the customer get the right product for their home.

    Aluminum Windows

    Although not a popular as they used to be is a good replacement window material. Quality aluminum windows incorporate changes in the way the material is assembled and that reduces "sweating", one of the biggest drawback to the older versions.

    Most aluminum windows have thinner frames than either vinyl or wood windows and come in "aluminum" or a bronze/brown color. The ability to build such units with thin frames and the color choices also makes aluminum a good choice for storm windows.

    Wood Windows

    Here the selection is varied and the quality ranges from poor to outstanding. Unlike their earlier counterparts with all of their problems, today's quality wood windows have all the attributes of what a window should be. They also have the ability to replicate historic and traditional window styles.

    Few wood windows were manufactured between WWII and the early 1980s. After that, the resurgence of the wood window industry resulted in a range of quality and durability. Some of these newer wood windows deteriorated quickly while others were a vast improvement over the pre WWII models.

    Wood windows with metal or vinyl exterior cladding are designed to resist sun and moisture damage. And today's window hardware has the ability to overcome the problems associated with the wood windows of the past.

    Good quality wood windows tend to be more expensive than vinyl and aluminum units.

  • Using the Existing Window Frames

    A fast and less expensive way to replace old windows is to re-use the outer frame and trim of the existing windows. When this is done, the old glass and sashed are removed and the replacement window is installed in the location of the sashes.

    If the existing frames are re-used they should be carefully inspected to make sure that they are in good condition and can last for the life or you new sashes. One area of frequent damage is the exterior windows sill. Small defects can be repaired but some of the damage, especially some wood damage, can be hard to spot.

    Keeping the existing interior and exterior window trim can also save money and help maintain the style of a home.

    Sash Options and Hardware

    The way a window opens, or not, will determine its use, the look of the house and the way it is decorated. For example, a casement unit may allow for a maximum operable space but may complicate exterior shades. The double hung window can provide venting at the bottom and top and simplifies interior and exterior window treatments.

    Lever handles or cranks maybe a good choice to make windows operation easier. Polls or even electric controls make high vents a practical option for summer venting.

    Replacement windows can be a great way to improve a home but some planing is required in order to determine if such a project makes sense and if so, which options are the best for your home.