The other day, you happened to notice the condition of one of your residential windows. What you noticed did not exactly inspire confidence or pride. New window would be a good idea, but how do you go about preparing for this type of home improvement project? If you’re serious about investing in new windows, here are some of the issues that you need to address and settle before starting the project.
Hire a Professional or Do the Work Yourself?
You’re the type of homeowner who enjoys taking care of minor repairs. In fact, you’re quite good with many of theses tasks. While that’s great, remember that a complete window installation is more complex than building a shelf or replacing a leaky faucet. There are a number of details to work out. You also have to be prepared for unanticipated issues that are only apparent once you have the old window removed.
For this type of project, it makes sense to call in the professionals. That means you want to talk with a reputable window replacement company and arrange for them to manage the actual installation. Along with taking care of the work, they will also provide you with access to information that will help you make a few other decisions.
Measure Even If You Think the Windows are Standard Sizes
Just looking at the windows in your home, they all appear to be uniform in size. The only exception is the smaller windows over the kitchen sink and in the bathroom. Even so, they seem to be sizes that you see used in many home designs.
Appearances can be deceiving. That's why it's important to get help from someone who knows how to measure window frames of all types. You may find that some of the windows are slightly larger than others. There may be no two windows that are the exact dimensions. On the other hand, they may all be standard sizes that will require no alteration at all.
If there is some small variance in window dimensions, don’t assume that there’s no choice but to order custom windows. It could be that minor changes to a standard size will work in most cases. The contractor working with you will provide a better idea of how to ensure every window is a perfect fit.
Educate Yourself on The Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows
You’ve heard of the ENERGY STAR rating system, but do you know what factors influence that rating? Here’s a breakdown that will help you understand how it works and why it matters:
* The rate of heat transfer provides a good idea of how well the window glass insulates the home. This is usually referred to as the U-Factor. A lower U-Factor indicates the window offers better insulation.
* The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) gives you an idea of how much heat blockage occurs. This is slightly different from the U-Factor, since the latter focuses on heat transference and not blockage. As with the U-Factor, you want the SHGC to be lower.
* The Visible Transmittance (VT) focuses on the amount of light that comes through the window glass. Unlike the aforementioned attributes, you want the VT to be higher. That means more natural light gets through the panes and into the home.
* The Air Leakage (AL) has to do with the amount of air that seeps through the points where different window components meet. Ideally, you want the window design to ensure all those joints are snug. Make sure the AL value is lower, since that indicates little to no air seepage.
* The Condensation Resistance gives you an idea of how well the window prevents water build up and seepage. That’s important during rainy seasons or when the winter snow arrives. Opt for windows with a higher Condensation Resistance factor, since that indicates less build up.
Landscaping and the New Window Installation
While you still have several decisions to make, now is a good time to take a look at the landscaping around your windows. What will it take to trim shrubs and remove some elements before the removal and installation takes place? Come up with a plan to make those alterations after you have a date set for the installation. This will speed up the process a little, and it also provides you with the opportunity to move delicate elements away from the house until the project is completed.
Considering a Different Window Style
Are you really happy with the style of your present windows? There could be one or more different styles that work equally well with the home’s architecture. At least one of them may offer better functionality than you enjoy today.
Maybe you have single hung windows right now. That’s great, but sometimes you would love to be able to open both sashes. Double hung windows look the same from the outside, but you can lower and raise both sashes. This is a great solution if you love to open the windows during the more comfortable seasons.
Perhaps raising and lowering sashes is getting more difficult for some family members. Sliding windows may be easier to operate. Consider sliding windows that also tilt, since it would be easy to clean the glass from both sides without having to stand on the grass or climb a ladder to clean second-story windows.
Selecting The Best Materials
What materials would serve you well? Wood is great, but over time it can rot or warp. Metal is practical and not subject to warping or rotting, but it can look a little too industrial with some home designs. You could opt for vinyl windows that are easy to maintain, look more like painted wood, and will las for a long time.
Consider the Longevity of Those New Windows
Ideally, you never want to replace those windows again. Ask the contractor about the average life of each type of window material. How well does each one fit into your plans for the future? If the idea is to sell the larger home after the kids are grown, windows designed to hold up well for at least 30 years will do the trick. If you plan on remaining in the home for the rest of your days, go for something that will last more decades.
And Think About How You Will Take Care of Them
Do you really want to paint frames and sashes every few years? How about replacing components that deteriorate in some way? If you want to keep the care and maintenance as uncomplicated as possible, vinyl or metal would be a good choice.
Remember to Take a Look at the Warranty and Guarantee
Whatever styles and features you choose, always check out the manufacturer warranty and the installer’s guarantee before agreeing to anything. You want to know what would happen if a factor defect led to a problem later on. It’s also good to know what sort of protections are in place if a problem develops due to an issue with the installation.
Finally, Consider the Price
Up to now, price has not been a guiding factor. That’s because you wanted to know more about your options for new windows, including how to choose the highest quality and the right combination of features. At this juncture, it’s time to narrow your choices to one that you can afford.
Try to balance the need for keeping the cost manageable with the desire to invest in windows that provide the benefits desired and that also happen to enhance the property’s value. Once you make the final selection, it’s time to set an installation date.
See this list of factors as being the foundation for your own personal windows buying guide. Your contractor will help identify any other factors that apply in your situation. Together, it won’t be difficult to come up with a plan that will serve you well for a long time.