When it comes to window replacement in your home, the choices can quickly become overwhelming whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned veteran.
There’s no doubt that’s a good thing. But there are a wide variety of styles, materials, glass options, grille styles, custom designs, as well as a plethora of colors and textures.
With all of these choices, it can be difficult to settle on the perfect window installation. To get the most out of your search, it helps to know what to look for and what questions to ask.
To help you select the best windows for your needs, here’s a convenient guide to window replacement.
Is it worth it to replace your windows?
It’s economical to replace outdated windows that make your home uncomfortable, look outdated, lessen its curb appeal, and require a lot of repairs.
Low-maintenance, high-quality, and energy-efficient replacement windows — like Pella windows or Andersen’s ENERGY STAR-certified windows — offer a variety of benefits and can add great value to your home. The benefits of home window replacement include adding character to your home, increasing its value, and reducing your energy bills:
- Greater energy efficiency. DIY repairs won’t make your windows more energy efficient, even if you can fix them for a short time. You can save money over time and reduce your impact on the environment by using less heating and cooling energy when you install energy-efficient windows in your home.
- Increased comfort. Replace your old windows with energy-efficient replacement windows to reduce your energy bills and keep your home comfortable throughout the year. New replacement windows are better insulated than those made ten years ago, and you can have fresh air flowing into your home anytime with easy-to-open screened replacement windows.
- Superior durability. Through the use of modern technology, various window manufacturers have been able to design quality windows that last for over 20 years with the right care. It’s a sound investment to upgrade your windows with new ones that will continue to pay dividends for decades to come.
- Lower maintenance. Replacement windows come in a variety of styles that are easy to clean from the inside. Replacement windows are very low maintenance so they remain in good working condition for a long time. Painting old wood windows every few years and maintaining them can cost a lot of money and time due to rain, snow, and ice damage — particularly depending on the number of windows you have. Also, old windows — particularly single-pane windows — tend to break and are difficult to fix or replace due to their hardware.
- Increased home value. After a window replacement project, your home becomes more attractive, more secure, quieter, and more energy-efficient, which increases its appeal to potential buyers. If you replace your windows & doors, the increase in the value of your home will more than offset the costs.
- Improved appearance. Choosing the right windows for your home can refresh the appearance of your home. Whether you are looking for single-hung windows, double-hung windows, triple-pane or double-pane windows, storm windows, fiberglass windows, or accent windows, you will be able to find them in a variety of shapes, sizes, and frame colors. By doing so, you can ensure your new windows will fit the existing openings and give your home a distinctive look — whether you’re in New York, Florida, or California.
How to budget for window replacement costs
The cost of a new window depends on many factors. Window costs are affected by several factors, including brand name, quality, material, and size.
The average cost of replacing a window is between $375 and $800. Window costs can range from $375 for basic vinyl frames to $1,275 for higher-end wood windows.
A contractor or supplier’s estimate will allow you to determine a specific price. The average prices above, however, can still be used to draw up a rough budget.
No matter how well you budget, you might still find that you can’t afford to replace your windows. Here are some options to consider: credit cards and home equity line of credit.
Credit cards with introductory zero interest rates can help you finance the cost of new windows for your home. Credit card financing is available at many large home improvement stores.
Use a credit card to pay for your window and make sure you can repay the full amount before the introductory period ends. If you don’t, you’ll be charged full interest on the original balance.
You can also borrow money from your bank using the equity you have built in your home. Typically, home equity lines of credit are large loans that can only be used for specific expenses, such as home improvements or medical bills.
Learn about the different types of windows
You can choose from a wide range of window styles and glass patio doors that serve different functions in different rooms and locations of your home. There are many styles and types of pane glass available today, including double-hungs, casements, awnings, bows, bays, slidings, awnings, picture windows, and a wide variety of custom shapes.
Single-hung and double-hung windows
Most homes have single-hung or double-hung windows. In general, these styles are popular because of their low cost and convenience. Their name comes from the fact that they have two panes, one on top of the other. Most are equipped with a simple locking device and can be opened by lifting the bottom panel and frame.
Additionally, double-hung windows have an adjustable top panel that slides forward and backward. The top panel can be removed in hot weather to provide better ventilation. A double-hung window is also much easier to clean.
In cases where windows are located above ground level, this is a great solution that eliminates the need for expensive (and dangerous) window-washing services. Single-hung and double-hung windows only differ in this top panel.
Most casement windows swing in or out, as opposed to sliding up or down. There’s less effort involved in operating casement windows because they have a “crank” handle.
Casement windows with push-outs don’t use cranks, but they’re not common. Due to the fact that the entire window opens rather than just a section, casement windows provide excellent ventilation as well. Another advantage of casement windows is their size. When it comes to making a statement, casement windows are one of the best options.
In sliding windows, there are one or more panels that slide horizontally along an upper and lower track. You can easily open half the window to allow air to flow through. In contrast to the other windows, they aren’t as airtight.
Kitchens and bathrooms are perfect places to use awning windows since they open at the bottom and hinge at the top. So, they’re the opposite of hopper windows (discussed in further detail below) and open from the top and hinge from the bottom, which makes them ideal for basements.
The best way to highlight a gorgeous exterior view is with picture windows. Although they don’t open, they can add a great deal of charm to your home. You can think of a picture window as a framed painting on your interior walls. The painting’s subject? Stunning views.
Arch and radius windows
Arch and radius windows are extremely versatile. This type of window is characterized by a rounded, half-circle top and a square or rectangular bottom.
You can add soft curves to the design of your home with this type of window because it lets in plenty of natural light. Traditional doors and windows also have horizontal and vertical lines that complement each other. You can make a statement by installing an arch radius window over an existing window.
In the basement, the hopper window reigns supreme. Even though these windows are great in basements, they are also useful in garages and attics, as well as any room that requires light and ventilation. In addition, it’s a smart choice for spaces that have limited window space because of its “inward-opening” feature.
Bow and bay windows
Bay windows contain three to five windows at angles of 25 to 45 degrees, while bow windows contain three, four, or five windows at angles of 10 to 15 degrees. Whether you create a new reading nook or update an existing one, both window styles make a beautiful focal point for any home. Whether you have a bow window or bay window, you can add end vents in either double-hung or casement styles.
A garden window is basically a mini bay window designed to house plants. Their name comes from the fact that they protrude from the inside of your home like tiny greenhouses. By keeping plants and herbs on the shelves, you get sunlight into your home while being able to see them from the outside.
Adding garden windows to a room can make it feel more spacious. In kitchens and living rooms, they can be installed with side panels that offer ventilation to the plants.
Custom-built windows are another option if the other windows mentioned in this second don’t suit your needs. When you order custom-made windows, you have the option to choose the shape, size, and angle of the frame.
If you want a truly unique look for your home, custom windows are a great choice — particularly if you’re home is a new construction. That said, custom windows are generally more expensive than standard windows.
Get familiar with various frame materials
Choosing the right materials for a window frame can influence its thermal performance, but it can also influence its thickness, weight, and durability. Standard window frame options include:
- Wood. Wood-framed windows are renowned for their aesthetic value. They’re available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Maintaining them properly can extend their life and reward energy-conscious homeowners with high R-values (a measure of thermal resistance).
- Wood clad. Wood-clad windows provide warmer interior appearances and superior weather resistance compared to traditional wood-framed windows.
- Aluminum. Unlike wood-framed windows, aluminum windows are strong, lightweight, and durable. Aluminum, however, is prone to condensation and mold, which can harm your health.
- Vinyl. Vinyl is a low-maintenance, long-lasting window material that resists moisture. Additionally, vinyl windows can be customized in an unlimited number of colors, making them less expensive than wood windows.
- Fiberglass composite. Fiberglass composite windows offer the fine appearance of wood but with less hassle. In high heat or freezing cold, they don’t warp, sag, or become brittle.
- Composite: A composite window combines plastic with organic materials to create a strong, energy-efficient window. You can order custom colors if none of the stock colors appeal to you.
Best practices for buying replacement windows
Almost any large city has an abundance of window companies, which makes the replacement window industry highly competitive.
During the process of replacing your windows, salespeople may mislead you about the amount of money you can save (through energy savings). And not every company is completely honest with its estimates. And does “lifetime warranty” really mean lifetime warranty?
Doing your research and shopping around pays off. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Get five or more estimates. Nobody enjoys getting estimates, but they’re really important when it comes to adhering to your budget. Make sure you get at least five free quotes. A wider range of prices puts you in control. The good news is that getting an estimate for replacement windows is easy. It is rare for companies to charge for estimates, and salespeople usually work around your schedule for in-home consultations.
- Know your target. Never let a salesperson tell you which windows need replacing. Even honest salespeople may feel tempted to add a few more windows to the estimate.
- Find off-brand windows. Rather than just looking at expensive name brands, ask the salesperson to show you a wide variety of window manufacturers.
- Sit on the estimate. Be careful not to act on the estimate right away. Before committing, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. There’s a lot of room for negotiation in this industry.
- Consider inexpensive windows. Due to fierce competition among replacement window manufacturers, you can find cheap replacement windows that still meet your needs.
Replacement window construction
A window frame’s material will also have a significant impact on its efficiency. Frames made from vinyl with insulation and fiberglass perform better than those made from wood, wood-clad vinyl, and vinyl without insulation. Compared to any of the other materials, aluminum and steel perform the worst.
Sash-only, insert windows, and full-window replacements are the three types of window replacements.
- New jamb and sash liners are included in sash-only replacement kits for improved operation and durability. Installation is easy, but they should only be used in windows that are in good shape otherwise.
- Often called retrofit windows or inserts, you install them inside existing window frames. It’s only necessary to remove the window stops and old sashes. The existing moldings, both inside and outside, will be fine. It’s easier, less expensive, and less messy to install inserts if the old frames are in good shape, rot-free, and square. The sills are normally custom-made to match the exact dimensions of the openings and angle of your existing sills. One advantage of retrofit windows is they’re available with tilt-in cleaning.
- Remove all of the existing components of the window before you replace it with a new one, including the casings, frames, sashes, and exterior trim. You can correct an old window frame that’s deteriorating, is out of square, or a new window style or size using this method. In spite of the increased labor, cost, and disruption involved with a full-frame replacement, you can better insulate around the window frame, which is one of the most common places where energy leaks occur. You can spray closed-cell foam insulation between the studs and the window frame after removing the trim. You can spray closed-cell foam insulation between the studs and the window frame after removing the trim. As a bonus, you don’t lose any glazing area with full-frame replacements.
Window shopping: Which style and material is right for you?
There are many types of windows and materials available on the market. Each of these variables has a different purpose.
While you should consider many factors when choosing your ideal windows, the final choice ultimately depends on your taste, perspective, and understanding of your needs.
Voilà, you now have all the information you need on window replacements for your next home renovation project. Here’s to taking your house to the next level with new windows!