Replacement Windows: 5 Things to Know
Got a drafty old window that's in serious need of TLC? If it's driving up your energy bill and not performing as well as it once did, it's giving you a sign that it's time to think about replacement.
There's just one problem: you don't know the first thing about replacing windows.
Replacing windows is a bigger job than most homeowners realize. If done correctly, it can drive up your resell value and your energy performance. If done incorrectly, it can compromise the integrity of your wall. Here's what you need to know to select the right replacement windows--and why you should always bring in the pros.
1. When to Replace Windows
Sure, your window is a bit drafty these days, but does it really need to be replaced? Unfortunately, nothing in your home lasts forever, and windows are no exception.
Theoretically, you can expect your new windows to last 20 to 25 years. However, some brands don't offer a guarantee for longer than five, seven, or fifteen years. How long your windows actually last depends on three factors:
Most windows are made of wood or vinyl. Vinyl's lifespan depends on the quality--the best vinyl can last up to 25 years, but most middle-of-the-road vinyl will last about 15 years.
However, you usually won't see manufacturer guarantees from big box stores longer than seven years. You can recognize these windows because they also have the lowest price tag.
Then there's wood. It's a popular material because it's durable, but it's also more prone to rapid deterioration (rotting, peeling, chipping) unless adequately taken care of. Wood windows tend to be more expensive than vinyl.
If you're not sure how old your windows are, you can safely assume your windows need replacing if you see any of the following:
- Higher energy costs
- Single-pane windows (shorter lifespan)
- Poor window operation
- Moisture buildup between panes
- Outside noise
- Frame decay
- Visible damage
In short? If your window isn't functioning the way it ought to, it's time for an upgrade.
2. Decisions That Matter
Once you decide to replace your windows, there are a few important decisions to be made about your replacement panes:
- Frame materials
- Panes of glass
The frame material changes the window's relative success as an insulator. The best insulators are wood and fiberglass, though vinyl (which commands most of the replacement market) can also be a good insulator. Aluminum frames are cheap, but they don't regulate temperature very well. The right choice depends on the meeting point of your budget and your local climate.
Then there's the question of how many panes of glass you want. Most standard windows are double-pane windows, i.e. two panes of glass adhered together with a sealed pocket of air between them to minimize condensation and maximize insulation. The cavity is typically filled with argon gas.
Some homeowners may opt for triple-pane windows, which offer even greater insulation and dramatically reduce noise. That said, these windows are quite expensive and usually not worth the investment unless you happen to live near an airport or a highway. You should not take the cheap route and opt for single-pane windows, as these offer very little insulation and limited sound protection.
As the cliche goes, if it's not broke, don't fix it. Most homeowners are well-served by double-pane windows.
3. Do You Need a Permit?
Before you invest in new windows, though, you should dot all your i's and cross all your t's. Unfortunately, what most homeowners don't realize is that replacing windows is a serious project.
You will need a building permit to install a new window, since your local municipality wants to ensure your new window doesn't compromise the integrity of the wall. If you're planning to replace multiple windows, the process will be even longer. You should plan on acquiring a building permit before you purchase replacement windows.
Keep in mind that the difficulty and complexity of acquiring a permit depends on your city's building regulations. It can even be influenced by your local neighborhood, including your homeowner's association. Your best bet is to do your homework in advance so you can start the project correctly on the first try.
4. Finding a Supplier
Part of doing it right the first time is finding a high-quality window, which means finding a high-quality window supplier. We sale and install JELD-WEN® vinyl windows and patio doors. They are a leading window manufacturer that is globally renowned for the reliability and durability of their products. They’ve been leaders in the field of window manufacturing since 1960, providing a vast range of window and door options for both new constructions as well as residential and commercial window replacements.
Of course, you're also going to need someone to install the windows, and that is our specialty. We have years of experience installing JELD-WEN® products.
5. Don't Do It Yourself
This brings us to the last point: while it may be tempting to save a few bucks, you should not attempt to DIY a window replacement project.
Window replacement is a serious undertaking. Installing a window incorrectly could compromise the integrity of the entire wall. Even removing the trim incorrectly could create serious damage. Unless you happen to be a certified window installer, this is not the type of project you should do yourself.
Instead, do your homework, check out the brands they carry. Check their certifications. And if you see something you like, you can start a conversation about a quote.
Need Replacement Windows? Hire an Expert to Help
We know that finding the right replacement windows can be challenging. Our job is to bring the expertise and high-quality materials you need to get the job done right. For us, it's about more than just expertise. We're a family-owned business, and we prioritize long-term relationships with our customers so that you always have a great experience.
If you need to speak with our team about your window replacement project, click here to get in touch.