We’ve all heard about the benefits of buying new windows for the home. New windows look great, enhance energy efficiency, and provide comfort in both the winter and summer months.
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Perhaps you’re reading this because you want to outfit your home with a great new set of windows. If so, you may have questions. How much do new windows cost? What type of windows should you buy? Whom should you contact to have your new windows installed?
At BestReviews, our mission is to provide you with the answers to these questions and more. We want to help you make your purchases with wisdom and confidence. We scrutinized the window market and studied window installation options in order to learn all about them.
In this shopping guide, we will explore your options with you, from which type of window style you might prefer to which type of installation process is right for you.
Most new windows fit into one of three style categories: casement windows, double-hung windows, and picture windows.
Double-hung windows are commonly seen in modern homes. These windows consist of two sections; you slide the lower section upward to open the window. This simple system requires little maintenance.
Casement windows use a crank-and-hinge system to swing open, almost like a door. They’re more energy-efficient than double-hung windows, but they require more maintenance than other window styles.
Picture windows, also known as bay windows, are generally the largest windows available. These windows do not open, but they afford home-dwellers a beautiful view of the outdoors. You’ll want the most energy-efficient glass you can afford with these large windows.
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Certain window styles fit better in particular areas of the home. For example, you might enjoy having an easy-to-maneuver casement window in your bedroom, but you probably wouldn’t want to have a picture window in your bathroom.
When shopping for new windows, you can choose from four different types of window frames: vinyl, wood, cladding, and aluminum. Understanding the benefits of each frame type will help you decide which is best for your home.
Vinyl window frames are the most common type of window frame seen on new windows today. Vinyl window frames cost less than other types of frames, and they require little to no maintenance. However, some people don’t like the look of vinyl.
Wood window frames offer the best insulation of all four materials, and they look handsome, too. But wood window frames carry the highest price tag, and they require the most maintenance.
Cladding window frames consist of wood with an aluminum or vinyl covering. Like wood, these window frames can also be expensive, but they require less maintenance than wood alone.
Aluminum window frames don’t look as good as wood window frames, but they’re easy to maintain.
Windows have come a long way since their single-pane days. When you buy new windows, you have the option of purchasing double-pane or triple-pane glass. The effectiveness of a window’s glass panes is measured by its solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), its U-factor, and its R-value.
Multi-pane windows have argon gas between the panes. This gas limits the degree to which UV rays can reach inside your home. To learn more about how effective a particular window product would be at shielding you from UV rays, check out its SHGC value.
The argon gas between the panes also helps prevent heat from escaping your home. The degree to which a window product does this is known as the U-factor. The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window is. A U-factor of 0.25 is an excellent figure.
You can check out a window product’s R-value to determine the overall efficiency of the glass. A higher R-value signifies a more efficient window. A window with an R-value of 5 is generally thought to be a highly energy-efficient window.
Before ordering replacement windows, you’ll need exact measurements of your current windows. Your contractor can take these measurements for you.
Perhaps you’re debating whether to replace or repair your current windows. It’s easier to make this decision if you know approximately how old your current windows are.
Windows that are a couple of decades old are the best candidates for replacement. However, if you moved into a home recently, you might not know the age of your current windows. Your windows provide clues about their age, though. Ask yourself these questions to determine the approximate age of your windows.
Do your windows have accompanying storm windows? Older windows have separate storm windows that you can install for the winter. Inserting storm windows may be a hassle you’d like to eliminate. Newer windows don’t typically include separate storm windows.
Are your windows difficult to clean? New windows will tilt inward, allowing you to clean both sides from the inside. If you’re still climbing ladders and risking a broken neck to wash your windows, it may be time to consider newer windows that tilt inward. They’ll save you a lot of hassle.
Are your windows hard to open? An older window may be extremely difficult to open. Layers of paint added over time and a general wearing of parts may cause the window to stick.
Do your windows have painted wood frames? If your windows have wood frames, requiring you to repaint them every few years, they’re probably older windows. Newer windows typically have casings that don’t require painting.
Do you have single-pane windows? A single-pane window often represents an older design. The best modern windows use two or more panes to provide better insulation.
If you don’t want to undertake the work and expense of replacing your home’s windows, you can perform repairs. Consider these tips.
If a window rattles a little bit in its casing, the pane could be loose. You can tighten it to reduce air leakage around the glass. You’ll need to apply glazing, a putty that holds the window in place tightly. Old glazing should be removed before applying new glazing.
You may be tempted to slap masking tape over a crack in a window, hang a curtain to hide the tape, and call it good. However, such cracks waste energy and pose a safety hazard. Have the glass replaced to improve the look and performance of your cracked window.
Placing some inexpensive weather stripping around the edges of a window can greatly improve its performance. Weather stripping stops drafts, making your home more comfortable. A plastic film over the interior window can help cut down on drafts in the winter, too.
If you can’t determine whether your windows need replacement or just a few repairs, hire a trusted contractor to look at them. He or she can help you make the determination.
You have a few different options for new window installation. Consider the following ideas to help you find the best solution for replacing your windows.
Some companies that sell windows also specialize in window replacement. The process is fairly simple when working with a window company, as you only have to deal with one entity. Just make sure the company has a good rating with the Better Business Bureau and/or with local customers.
When comparing window companies, make sure you’re looking at similarly constructed products. And always ask whether the quoted price includes all labor. Using a company like this for window installation usually results in the highest cost.
Another option for window installation involves hiring a contractor to do the work. In this scenario, you purchase new windows at a local hardware store, which would handle the delivery. The contractor would then perform the window installation.
You’ll have a lot more choices in brands of windows, as some window companies only offer one brand of window. Just make sure to partner with a competent contractor that you trust.
If you have some experience with home-improvement projects, you can purchase and install the windows yourself, saving the most money.
However, new windows can be heavy, making it difficult for one person to do the work. And the windows must be perfectly squared up before they are installed.
Completing this type of work successfully will be very difficult for novices. Only choose this option if you have experience installing windows.
If you opt to go with a window company or contractor for the installation of your new windows, be sure to request written bids from at least three competitors. The bids should spell out all hardware and labor costs, as well as a time frame for completing the work.
Make sure the window company or contractor has plenty of references, and physically visit the homes where the work was done to inspect it yourself.
A. Actually, you shouldn’t decide to replace your older windows solely on the hope that you’ll save money on energy. In general, new windows provide roughly a 10-percent savings on your energy bill. This means that it would take an average household several decades to recoup their new-window costs in energy savings.
In addition to helping you shave a small percentage off your monthly energy bills, new windows will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your house. They’ll also likely be easier to clean. These benefits, in combination with slight energy savings, should help you justify the cost of new windows.
A. The installation process varies from contractor to contractor and from home to home. An experienced installation team could complete the job in a day or two. A single contractor working on an older home with tricky windows could take a couple of weeks. Regardless, the company or contractor you hire should be able to give you a realistic estimate on the amount of time required.
A. Window installers will need access to both the inside and outside of your home. Fortunately, the tasks you must complete before the window installers arrive shouldn’t take very long. Here’s what you need to do.
Remove blinds and curtains.
Move any furniture blocking your windows.
Trim bushes and trees near the windows.
If you have window sensors as part of a security system, disable or remove them.
A. With labor included, replacement windows can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000 apiece, although you may pay more or less in your area.
Windows with multiple panes cost more than windows with single panes.
Vinyl-frame windows cost less than wood-frame windows.
Large windows cost more than small windows.
The trim, accent wood, and window frame color can all impact your overall costs, too.
To save money, you may wish to try replacing windows in the winter. Most contractors and window companies have fewer jobs at this time, so you might trim a bit off your bill this way.