6 Questions to Ask When Buying Replacement Windows
Replacing your windows is a big investment, but it can pay off with lower utility bills and better curb appeal. Of course, replacing the windows isn’t as straightforward as it may seem with dozens of options in terms of material, number of panes, style, and treatment. When it’s time to buy new windows for your home, it’s a good idea to ask yourself several questions to determine which windows are the right choice.
1. Is a Retrofit or True Replacement the Best Choice?
There are two primary ways to replace your windows: a retrofit which installs the window into an existing window frame or complete replacement which involves removing the existing trim and siding. This is a big consideration because new construction of the window requires removing or damaging some exterior material on your home.
In most cases, a retrofit will be sufficient to upgrade the look and function of your windows. It’s also the most popular type of window replacement in the United States. This option does not damage the stucco, brick, or siding of your home. In some cases, the entire window and frame must be removed, such as when you are changing the shape or size of the window. This type of replacement is best to do when you are already doing renovations on the exterior of your home.
2. Which Type of Window Frame Should You Get?
There are several materials to choose from when you buy new windows. Each offers advantages and disadvantages. Vinyl is the most popular as it’s very low maintenance and affordable. In most cases, you can only get them in a few colors, but they never need to be painted. They also have stabilizers to prevent breakdown from UV exposure. According to the Department of Energy, you can even get vinyl windows with cavities filled with insulation for better energy savings.
Another popular option is wood. Despite being high maintenance, wood remains popular. If you choose wood, you will need to paint the frames fairly often and the frames will not last as long as other materials. If you just want the look of genuine wood without the maintenance, wood-clad is a good choice for a maintenance-free exterior.
There are also other options like aluminum, which is affordable but doesn’t work well in cold areas. Fiberglass does not require maintenance but it can be expensive.
3. Are You Concerned About Energy Savings?
For many homeowners, reducing energy costs is a big concern. When choosing new windows, look for the Energy Star label as these windows help reduce the amount of heat that enters or escapes your home. In some areas, Energy Star windows can also qualify for a tax credit or other incentive.
4. How Do You Want to Use the Windows?
There are many styles of windows. Some windows do not open at all while single hung and double hung windows allow you to open the top and/or lower panel to improve air circulation in your home. These aren’t your only options, though. Casement windows have a hinge that allows you to open the windows by swinging them outward. This style of window can allow you to let in fresh air without obstructing your view. It’s also a good choice for rainy areas.
You can also consider hopper windows. This style is designed for ground level installation, such as a basement. It opens from the top into the house with a crank for ventilation without allowing debris to get blown inside.
5. Do You Want Single, Double, or Triple Glazed?
Single glazed windows have just one pane of glass. While easy to clean and repair, they do not offer much protection against heat and cold. Double glazed windows are the most popular as they use two panes of glass with air trapped between as insulation. Triple glazed windows offer the greatest protection but they’re the most expensive. This style is usually recommended in very cold climates or windows with northern exposure to the cold.
6. How Much Value Will You Recover?
Window replacement can improve the value of your home, allowing you to recover a good amount of your investment when you sell your home. According to Kiplinger, the return for a 4-window project with mid-range vinyl windows was at least 65%. To get the most value from your home improvement project, you will want to match the quality and style of the windows to your home. While buyers love energy efficient, new windows, they aren’t going to pay much more for them with a starter home, for example.