Did you know that in the US, installing new windows can cost anywhere from $2,900 to over $8,700? Labor alone can cost about $150 to $800 per window.
With so much money on the line, it’s best that you learn how to choose windows that best suit your home. This way, you can maximize your investment and boost your home’s comfort and appeal.
To that end, we’ve come up with this comprehensive guide on choosing the best windows. Read on to learn the qualities and characteristics to look for in new or replacement windows.
Determine if You Need New Construction or Replacement Windows
Both new construction and replacement windows are brand-new. The main difference is that “new construction” windows are often for new buildings. These windows come with a part called “nailing fin,” and it must go inside a wall.
The nailing fin of a wall is a thin sheet or piece of metal that surrounds the entire edge of a window frame. This then gets nailed directly on studs that are inside the walls. Because of this, the nailing fin must go inside the wall first before completing the rest of the wall.
Replacement windows, by contrast, don’t come with nailing fins and are, instead, smooth-sided. This construction allows you to insert them quickly into the existing window frame. Once in place, you then secure the windows in place with fasteners and caulking material.
However, there are times new construction windows must serve as the “replacement”.
Termite-Infested Window Frames
Every year, a single termite species cost the US an estimated $2 billion in damage. That’s none other than the eastern subterranean termite. On top of that are the damages also caused by other termite species like the Formosan termites.
If termites have infested your window frames, you may need new construction windows. The pests may already have eaten through a good portion of your window’s wood materials. In this case, the insects may have compromised the security and stability of the frame itself.
Get in touch with your local pest control experts first before you start picking out windows. It’s essential to treat the infestation first prior to installing new window frames. Otherwise, the termites will just keep eating through your home.
Severe Decay or Rot on Existing Windows Frames
You may also have to go with new construction windows if your existing ones are already rotting. Decayed window frames are common in water-damaged homes. The same goes for older properties, especially the 38% of US homes that have been around for 50 years now.
As with termite-infested window frames, severe decay may indicate compromised structural integrity. If you only replace the windows, the frame itself may collapse. As such, it might be better to get the entire window replaced.
Invest in Energy Star Certified Windows
On average, Energy Star windows can cut your home’s energy consumption by 12%. These are the most energy-efficient windows available in the market today. For starters, they use high-quality framing materials and layered glass panes.
With that said, choosing the best windows involves checking for the Energy Star logo. Only products certified by the Department of Energy have the right to bear this label. Those that do have undergone rigorous testing and quality control methods.
In addition, Energy Star windows come with lengthy product warranties. At the very least, they come with a 10-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
Know Your Windows’ Performance Ratings
Your goal may be to boost curb appeal by swapping out rotting windows but be sure to look at their performance too. A window’s “performance rating” can help you decide if it’s the right choice for the climate in your area.
There are various performance variables, but the two most vital ones are the U-value and SGHC.
U-value, also known as U-factor, is a measurement of a window’s insulating ability. It’s a gauge of how much heat loss the window can block or prevent. Today, you’ll find U-value “scores” as high as 1.3.
The thing is, the higher the U-factor is, the less resistant the window is to heat loss. That’s why you’d want to stick to a lower U-value rating, such as 0.30 or even lower. The lower the value, the greater the window’s ability to keep heating (or cooling) energy in.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient Ratings (SHGC)
SHGC is the measurement of solar energy (the sun’s heat) that a window transmits. These ratings range from 0 to 1. The higher this rating is, the more heat that a window allows entering a building.
If you live somewhere with a warm climate, then you’d want your windows to have a lower SHGC rating. The same goes true for windows that face the sun. This can give you better control over the heat gains that occur through your windows.
If you live in a colder area, then you may want to go for windows with a higher SHGC rating. This way, you can maximize natural heating to keep your home warm and comfy.
If you’re 100% certain you want to replace (and not fix) your windows, then go for multi-glazed options. Multiple glazing is becoming the norm in the US, with nearly 60% of homes having such windows. These include double-glazed and triple-glazed windows.
Multiple glazing means that the window consists of glass layers. Double-glazed windows, for instance, have two panes of glass that form a sealed space. Triple-glazed windows, in turn, have three layers of glass and two enclosed spaces.
The “space” created by these glass layers gets filled with air or an insulating gas, such as argon. The idea is that the more panes there are, the more insulating the window is. It’s true, but depending on your budget, you may want to stick to double-glazing.
For one, double-glazed windows may be energy-efficient enough for your home. They’re more expensive than single-paned windows, but they’re more affordable than triple-glazed ones.
One study found that heating costs in homes with double-glazed windows ranged from $575 to $600. In homes that only had single-paned windows, this went as high as $875. That’s a considerable savings of between $275 to $300!
Triple-glazed windows, on the other hand, can lower energy use in homes by at least 16%. This makes them more energy-efficient than both single- and double-glazed windows. However, triple-paned windows are also the most expensive in the market today.
Consider Esthetic and Value-Added Features
Double-hung windows are still the most common window styles in the US. For starters, they fit most standard window openings. So, they provide the easiest solution for replacing windows.
Best of all, double-hung windows are also great for both traditional and modern homes. They’re easy to clean and deliver better ventilation control than the single-hung ones. You can tilt one or both panes to let fresh air into your home.
You may also want to go for sliding windows that are even easier to clean than double-hung windows. They deliver a seamless indoor-outdoor connection, giving you great views of the outdoors. Plus, these windows don’t need extra space or allowance, as they slide into their frames.
If you’re replacing several large-sized windows, consider mixing in picture windows. They are a fixed type of window, so be sure that you have enough ventilation before installing these. If ventilation isn’t an issue, picture windows can afford the best views of the outdoors.
Picture windows are also among the easiest to use window tinting products on. Since they are seamless, it’s easy to layer them with window films.
However, if you want to apply window films, be sure to check with the window manufacturer first! Some window makers invalidate the warranty if you use tinting on their products.
If you have the budget, then you may want to go for replacement windows that use smart glass. These products utilize electrochromic coating, which is like a self-adjusting tint. This allows the window to either reduce or raise its tint levels based on how much heat and light hits the glass.
Smart windows are also automatable, which in many cases, means you can operate them using a mobile app. For example, you can set the windows to open or close at specific times of the day. This is very convenient, especially if you have a lot of windows at home.
Follow This Guide on How to Choose Windows Now
There you have it, everything you need to know about how to choose windows. Feel free to bookmark this page so that you can reference it once you start shopping for new windows.
Just be sure to follow all the steps in this guide, though! This way, you can make sure your new windows can boost your home’s curb appeal and energy efficiency.
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