- Should you do-it-yourself or hire a professional?
Replacing your windows can be a big project, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. The window type and fit can greatly affect the ease or difficulty of window installation. The most important question to ask is if you are capable of measuring, installing, and sealing the window with the right tools. If you do not think you have the necessary expertise, you should hire a professional. Before hiring a professional, be sure to research the company’s reputation and to confirm there is a warranty on labor and parts.
- Read the window label.
Before buying any windows, check the window label for third party endorsements, including Good Housekeeping, AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association), NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council), and the ENERGY STAR label, to confirm the quality of the window.
- Confirm any warranties on the window.
- It is important to confirm any available warranties on the new windows, including:
- Does the warranty cover air leaks from broken seals?
- Does the warranty cover glass breakage?
- Is the labor to install the windows covered?
- Is the window warranty transferrable to the next homeowner?
- Does the window company carry liability insurance?
- Are new construction windows or retrofit windows better?
Windows can either be replaced through new construction or retrofit windows. New construction windows involve cutting back the exterior house material, removing the flashing paper, and replacing the old window. While new windows are the same size as the old windows, they can cause noticeable changes to the exterior or interior walls. New windows also typically cost more than retrofit windows.
Retrofit windows, on the other hand, are designed to fit inside of the existing window’s frame, allowing them to be installed without disrupting the interior or exterior walls. Retrofit can also be installed quickly, saving time, money, and the surrounding trim and molding.
- What frame materials are best?
- Vinyl windows are the most common type of window frame because they insulate nicely and operate smoothly. Also, they are relatively inexpensive and essentially maintenance free. The biggest downfall to vinyl windows is that they only come in white or tan and cannot be painted.
- Fiberglass windows also insulate very well and are essentially maintenance free. They can come in a variety of colors and can be painted to match décor. However, they are very expensive, especially compared to vinyl windows.
- Aluminum windows are typically only used to match contemporary styles of mid-century homes; however, they have poor insulation qualities.
- Wood windows usually need to be retrofitted for custom sized windows. Even though wood windows can have low-maintenance exterior cladding, they still require regular painting to maintain them. Additionally, wood windows are expensive.
- What glass option suits you?
- Single, Double, or Triple Glazed – Glass windows can have one, two, or three layers of glass separated by a gap of insulating air to cut down on heat loss. The more layers of glass a window has, the greater the insulating properties.
- Low-E glass – Low-E glass, or low emissivity glass, consists of microscopically thin metal placed in the window to allow more or less solar heat through the window.
- Argon or Krypton Gas – Argon or krypton gas can be placed in-between glass panes to increase the insulating properties and the amount of heat transferred. Krypton gas is more rare; therefore, it is more expensive than argon gas.
- True Divided Lites, Simulated Divided Lites, or GBG Internal Grids – Windows can have true divided lites, simulated divided lites or grids between the insulated glass (GBG). True divided lites consist of several individual panes of glass set within mullins that divide the frame. Simulated divided lites consist of one pane of glass with the frame permanently adhered to the outside surface. GBG’s consist of frames within the glass for easy cleaning.