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The Ultimate Windows Buying Guide

Changing the look of your house and renewing its style is one of the most sought for goals in a home renovation project. This can add value to your house if you’re planning to sell it.

Sometimes going for a new style not only improves the looks and the layout of your house, but it can also add to its functionality in terms of tranquility, privacy, and security.

If you want a tremendous shift for fewer changes, then opting for replacement windows in your house can do the trick for you.

With the market being flooded with various window materials, styles and types, you can easily be overwhelmed and dazzled on your quest of finding the perfect replacement windows for your house. 

That’s where we hop in for the rescue.

In this article, we’ll be providing you with the ultimate guide of getting your next replacement windows installed.

A Replacement Window Might Be Everything You’re Looking for.

wood windows

If you’re thinking of installing new windows for your house but still unsure about that step, then you need to know what you’re bargaining for.

Security

Most thefts and burglaries happen through the windows. That makes a secure and tightly shut window an essential piece in the house's security system

Value

Even if you aren't planning on staying in your current house for long. Being the first impression of your house, good replacement windows can dramatically add to the overall value of your property if you're planning on selling it.

Tranquility

If you're looking for enjoying your privacy in a serene and peaceful life, then having insulated or triple-pane windows installed will get the job done for you.

Energy Efficiency

Another way to save money out of investing in replacement windows is their energy efficiency. Since new windows are optimized to seal the house air quality, a good replacement window can save much of your air conditioner or heater's energy, reducing their bills and maintenance cost.

The Different Materials Used in Making Window Frames

When searching for replacement windows for your house’s renovation project, you’re going to stumble across a variety of materials that can be used.

In general, we shortlisted the materials used in making windows into 4 main materials. 

Today, the most popular and reliable materials between homeowners are wood, vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass. Each one of them has its pros and cons. 

wood windows

Wood Windows

Starting with one of the most common materials, wood has always been used in making not only windows but also many house building structures, furniture, all the way up to the houses themselves in the past.

Replacement windows that are made of wood have this charm that flatters any house regardless of their classic or modern design statement.

Wooden slices are cut into miter joints to suit the frame, then they’re installed with nails, screws, glue, or sometimes all of them for extra fortification.

On the plus side, wood has always been incomparable to any other material when it comes to warm, good looking, and nostalgic feel. 

They also grant the highest level of insulation compared to all other materials which can bring a lot of energy-saving onto the table. This becomes more evident when they’re fitted with a highly insulating type of glass panes such as double or triple-pane glass.

Moreover, being a bad conductor of heat, wood isn’t prone to continuous contraction and expansion due to changes in temperature unlike the next items on our list, vinyl and aluminum windows, which suffer greatly from such a phenomenon.

Another great thing about wood is that it’s recyclable and can easily be restored and maintained with proper care.

However, one of the main downsides that drive some homeowners off using wood in replacement windows is that they can swell up and shrink due to their moisture content.

Additionally, wood is usually the most expensive choice when it comes to replacement window options. If you’re thinking of wood, you might prepare yourself for some wallet action as well.

Unfortunately, being organic, wood can also be infested with fungal infections and rot. This can cause some unwanted health hazards. The good news is by spray coating the wood and properly covering it with a protective layer you can easily avoid these issues.

With that said, it’s recommended to go for hardwood such as beech or oak wood if you’re settled on wooden windows since they provide the highest level of durability among wooden frames.

Vinyl Windows

Vinyl is currently the most used material when it comes to replacement windows. One of the main factors behind its vast popularity is its efficiency and affordability.

Every day, more homeowners shift to vinyl windows because they aren’t only the cheapest material compared to wood, aluminum, or fiberglass but they’re also durable, easily maintained, and available in all shapes and sizes. 

The reason behind the name is that they’re made of PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride, hence the name (uPVC). This is a chemical material used in making a wide variety of plastic materials that are characterized by hardness and lightweight.

What most people like about PVC replacement window frames is that they’re available in all colors to easily blend in with the surrounding style and they can withstand moisture without rusting or chipping.

Additionally, they also resist all kinds of warping, peeling, or cracking all the while staying extremely tough and resilient. Some of the most trustworthy vinyl windows manufacturers will offer a double lifetime warranty.

Vinyl windows also score pretty high on energy efficiency. This means that you’re also going to save on heating, air conditioning bills, and maintenance costs as well.

Despite their perks, some poor quality PVC polymers don’t stand the test of time very well, and consequently, their vinyl windows become more vulnerable with time, shrinking the lifespan of vinyl windows.

This is because the vinyl contracts and expands 7 times faster than glass panes. This leads to collapsing of the window frames with time.

Vinyl windows are recommended for long term investors who are looking for the best deal. Vinyl replacement windows are a highly reliable and budget-friendly option for those who want more for less.

Aluminum Windows

Aluminum replacement windows are a moderate option when it comes to price. They’re usually costlier than fiberglass and vinyl windows but comes at a cheaper price tag compared to the more artistic wooden replacement windows.

Unlike vinyl, you can paint aluminum replacement windows much easier. Aluminum is known for its high-end durability and featherlight weight. They also resist all forms of cracking, peeling, chipping, or warping.

Although they’re known for their slim designs and lightweight frame, aluminum frames are sturdy and can handle aging very well unless they suffer a dent. In such a case, it’s usually very hard to fix the window without replacing the part of the frame where the dent is visible.

Another issue with aluminum lies in its ability to withstand weather changes despite outperforming vinyl and fiberglass windows. They react to changes in temperature greatly, making them expand and contract.

This lowers aluminum score on the energy efficiency scale.  This everlasting problem has now been solved with the introduction of thermal breaks. 

By adding these thermal breaks to various parts of the aluminum frame, they enhance the window’s ability to insulate the rooms.

Aluminum frames are recommended for modern houses as they fit the contemporary style perfectly. With their easy to paint properties, they can be a game-changing asset in modern house design art.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass is the newest addition to the windows industry that’s taking the market by storm. Although it’s new and yet to be discovered by many homeowners, it’s gaining popularity every day because of the cool features it possesses.

Similar to wood and aluminum replacement windows, fiberglass can also be painted to suit homeowners’ tastes. However, the newcomer is more durable than both aluminum and wooden window frames.

Since fiberglass is essentially a reinforced mixture of plastic glass fiber, it has the same physical properties of glass. This makes fiberglass the perfect material to work with window panes since they expand and contract at the same rate.

This protects the window frames from breaking down through the course of years; rendering fiberglass as one of the most long-lasting materials to be used in making window frames.

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and this applies to fiberglass too. Owing to the fact that fiberglass frames are usually hollow on the inside, they don’t insulate well.

Recently, this bullet has been dodged by installing foam paddings. Foam is known for its ideal sound and heat insulating properties. As a result, fiberglass frames have higher energy efficiency. 

With all its perks, fiberglass windows are quickly becoming a fan favorite, and its prevalence and sustainability are working for its favor. Milgard’s fiberglass Ultra Series is a fine example of this innovative step in the future of windows.

That’s why fiberglass is recommended for anyone who wants a heavy-duty replacement window, it lasts much longer than any other material, and costs way less than wood or aluminum.

Combination (Hybrid) Windows

Merging building materials to obtain the best out of both is the smartest new idea that’s currently tested and executed by many manufacturers.

This innovative and practical step has a lot of benefits such as reducing the price of the more expensive but better-looking materials such as wooden frames.

Additionally, this can help in enhancing the energy efficiency of some materials such as fiberglass.

Milgard windows were one of the few manufacturers that produced a hybrid replacement window in the Essence Series

In this production line, they combined the amazing view of all-natural wood and durability and long-lasting resilience of fiberglass.  

 

The Types of Windows Available in The Market

When shopping for a replacement window, your choice will depend on a deep understanding of these types and how they operate as well as their style. 

Let’s briefly check each one of these types and see what they have to offer.

Horizontal Slider Windows

One of the most common window designs is the horizontal slider windows. The window sashes slide to the left or right depending on your desired airflow direction in the room.

These windows are a great choice if you’re into larger windows which allows sunlight to enter the room or overlooks an aesthetically pleasing scenery. 

In such a case, a vinyl window with an extra slim frame profile like Milgard’s Style Line series would be an excellent option for you.

Single-Hung Windows

These windows have two sashes that are hung in a vertical style. The top sashes are fixed to allow sunlight into the room. However, some manufacturers allow a slight forward or backward tilt in their top sashes to allow for easier cleaning of the exterior pane.

The bottom sashes are the freely moving ones. They can slide up and down to allow airflow into the room. If you’re thinking about a window style for a room that faces a patio, then a single-hung window would fit your criteria perfectly.

Double-Hung Windows

Similar to the Single-Hung windows, the double-hung also has two vertically hanging sashes. However, both the upper and lower sashes can move up and down freely.

This allows for more flexibility and convenience concerning many aspects. For example, you can control the airflow into the room, and they’re also much easier to clean because you can both slide and tilt them.

Casement

Casement is a door-like window that opens outwards with a hinge. They hold the maximum ventilation capacity between all windows because they can be completely open.

If you own a room that requires a high level of continuous ventilation, then casement windows are a great option.

Awning

Awnings are tilt-out windows that are hinged from the top and open upwards. Similar to the casements, they also offer high levels of room ventilation.

Unlike casements, awnings are usually smaller in size, making them perfect for smaller rooms that require a constant flow of fresh air such as laundry rooms and kitchens.

Final Words

The market is full of different types of windows and materials. Each one of these variables will serve a different purpose.  Although choosing your ideal windows depends on many aspects, the final pick is a matter of taste, perspective, and a full understanding of your needs. So there you have it, a complete guide with everything you need to know about window replacements for your next home renovation project.