“What kind of window should I choose???” – a silent scream of a tired homeowner facing the difficulties of window replacement. Completely normal since when scrolling through different window types, styles and materials one can easily get confused and frustrated. Unfortunately, there isn’t a short answer to this question as the ideal window type mainly depends on your home’s characteristics.
To make things easier for you, we are presenting all of the things you should have in mind while choosing new windows. If things get even more complicated, do not be afraid. There are tons of window companies out there who offer free and helpful consultations. In the meantime:
One of the things you should focus on is the framing material. Usually, windows are made either from wood, aluminum, vinyl and fiberglass. Each has its own strengths and weakness.
- Wood – An amazing material for insulation. It also adds a unique style to homes. Its life span is fairly large, reaching a maximum of 25 years. However, wood is vulnerable to termites, cracks and mold growth which can weaken its structure and functionality – cutting the life span in half. To avoid this, you should frequently clean up wooden framed windows and assure them proper maintenance.
- Aluminum – An extremely affordable material, also with great insulator qualities. It is extremely easy to maintain and it is lightweight – making it flexible for every home. Unfortunately, it does have its set of disadvantages since its maximum age is 18, it is prone to condensation and it can deteriorate from salty air. This is why aluminum is never recommended for homes next to seas and oceans.
- Vinyl and fiberglass – Undoubtedly the most efficient materials on the market. They have much longer lifespans than any other materials, maximum 50 years. Their differences are mostly in pricing since fiberglass is 25% more expensive than vinyl which is even cheaper than wood.
The Ideal Style
In the world of windows, style is also known as type. And the ideal window type is different for every room. But why? Some rooms need more ventilation, some more light and some should focus on privacy above all else. There are tons of styles out there with different pros and cons. For instance, the best windows for small spaces are slidings as they don’t obstruct the interior. Other window styles are: double-hung, casement, awning, hopper, bay and bow. Consult with experts to find the most suitable ones for your window replacement project.
Frame material and glass determine the efficiency of your window. So it won’t matter if you have fiberglass frames if you also have single-pane glass with low energy ratings. The regular homeowner doesn’t know how to thoroughly inspect a glass, so experts thought of a solution: Energy ratings! Here are the values you should look at while shopping for glass:
- U – value: Represents the resistance to heat loss. Windows with lower U-values are better insulators since they have minimum heat loss. And more retained heat means low heating system usage, therefore lower electrical bills.
- R – value: Represents ability to absorb and retain heat. So the best windows are those with higher R-values and lower U-values.
- VT: An acronym for visual transmittance, VT is expressed in percentages which signify the amount of visible light passed through the windows. Higher VT means that the window allows more light to enter your home.
- SHGC: Another acronym, but for solar heat gain coefficient. Its value is represented by numbers from 0 to 1. The higher value, the more solar radiation transmitted through a window.
- Energy Stars: This mark is found on every appliance certified as highly energy efficient. For a product to get an Energy Star, it must pass certain laboratory tests. There are energy stars for window frames as well. Do not opt for less and make sure your material and glass are top rated.