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What to Look for in Replacement Windows

We often don’t think about them, but windows are key to the aesthetic design and functionality of our homes. Windows influence the natural light in our homes as well as our ability to let fresh air in during warmer seasons. Their importance may fly under the radar, but when shopping for replacement windows, there are many important factors to consider. These include window styles, materials, energy efficiency, ease of use, and cost. In this post, we’ll go over each to help you make a more informed purchase. 

Choosing Your Window Style

There are many different styles of windows available: 

  • Awning – Rectangle Shape, Easy to Operate, Good for Hard-to-Reach Places 
  • Bay/Bow – Visually Appealing, Lets Light in from Multiple Angles 
  • Casement – Tall Rectangle Shape, Offers Great Angle & Ventilation Adjustment 
  • Double Hung – Versatile with Two Sashes, Easy to Clean, Energy Efficient 
  • Garden – Great Three-Dimensional Look, Added Shelf Space 
  • Hopper – Angled Tilt-In Design, Resistant to Dirt & Debris Buildup 
  • Picture – No Moving Parts, Limitless Design, Top-Tier Energy Efficiency 
  • Sliding – Wide Panes for Clear Views, Horizontal Operation 
  • Specialty – Custom Made with a Personal Touch 

As you can see above, each window style excels in different ways related to functionality, ease of use, viewing angles, and what types of rooms they work best in. It is important to consider these factors when choosing replacement windows. 

A Focus on Build Quality – Window Materials

When looking at the differences between low-grade and high-grade windows, an area to keep an eye on is frame material. While the window pane is the star of the show, the frame is key to overall quality, stability, and energy efficiency. Materials commonly used in window frames include: 

  • Wood – Classic Wood Aesthetic, Sturdy, Vulnerable to Cracks & Warping 
  • Aluminum – Paintable & Durable, Poor Energy Efficiency 
  • Fiberglass – Expensive, Durable, Paintable, Great Energy Efficiency 
  • Vinyl – Durable, Affordable, Great Energy Efficiency, Not Paintable 

Each frame material has distinct advantages and disadvantages when it comes to durability, function, and design considerations. We recommend vinyl windows as a great all-arounder and affordable option. 

windows-before-after-1

Windowpanes & Energy Efficiency

Another key consideration for replacement windows is whether to go with single or multi-pane windows. Single-pane windows are often cheaper than their multi-pane siblings and offer an easier time installing a storm window or screen. However, multi-pane windows offer much better energy efficiency, insulation, and robustness. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for details on windowpane coatings, which can also impact energy efficiency. 

Windows Should be Easy to Use

It’s easy to get caught up in the style, material, and pane-count of your windows, but debatably the most important factor is how easy they are to use. If you can’t easily open, close, or adjust a window to your liking, it probably isn’t the right choice. 

Frame materials can impact how easily windows slide open or shut, as well as whether or not your windows will swell during different seasons. In addition to materials, you want to look for user-friendly features such as crank handles, window locks, and knobs to make sure the window operates to your liking. 

How Much do Replacement Windows Cost?

Above all else, what’s most important is picking replacement windows that fall within your target price range. The beauty of windows is that you can pick up a set with great materials, energy efficiency, and style for an affordable price. Most expensive windows are pricey due to the “nice to haves,” not needs. 

Of course, cost is heavily dependent on your personal situation and needs. Custom design requirements, for example, may add quite a bit of cost. However, if you’re going for more standard shaped windows, you can find high-quality vinyl options at affordable rates. 

There are a variety of great contractors and window specialists out there that can help you put together a replacement window plan within your price targets. 

windows-before-and-after-2

Putting Together Your Replacement Window Plan

To get the most out of your replacement windows, we recommend considering the following elements covered in this post: 

  • Window Style 
  • Build Quality & Materials 
  • Windowpane Layers & Energy Efficiency 
  • Ease of Use 
  • Cost 

Actively thinking and planning around these areas will improve your experience when contacting a local window company, contractor, or taking on a DIY window project. 

At West Shore Home, our design consultants review each of these key-areas with prospective customers. We strive to provide a seamless window installation process. Learn more about our replacement windows today. 

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