Replacing your windows can be a big investment in your home. While costly, new windows can boost your home’s value and reduce your energy expenses. Before shopping for new windows, here are some tips you should know.
1- Consider Maintenance When You Choose a Material
Windows are made from many materials today. Solid wood is the most expensive and difficult to maintain. Aluminum-clad wood is a better alternative with a finish guaranteed to last 20 years, although it costs up to 20% more. Vinyl is the best choice in terms of maintenance as it never needs to be restained or repainted.
2- Find Out if Your Windows can be Repaired
New windows can cost thousands, but your old windows don’t necessarily need to be replaced, even if they rattle, cause a draft, or don’t stay open. A carpenter can repair many window issues like broken panes, glazing, and sash cords. In some cases, repairs can make your windows almost as efficient as new windows at a fraction of the cost.
3- Think Twice About Replacing Historic Windows
While many buyers consider new windows a big selling point, sometimes replacing your windows can actually lower your home’s value — especially if you choose the wrong windows. Historic windows, including leaded glass, stained glass, and decorative wood grilles, can be a mistake. If you must replace the windows, match the quality and appearance of the original windows. This means using wood instead of vinyl, for example.
4- Retrofitting May Be a Good Alternative to Full Replacement
When you get new windows, you have two main options: a retrofit, or inserting your new window into the existing casing, or a full brick-to-brick replacement that strips out the old window and frame. Full replacement is the most energy-efficient solution, but retrofitting is much more affordable with savings of up to $300 per window in labor costs.
5- There are Dozens of Window Styles
You may want to replace your existing windows with the same style, or you can upgrade to a new window that offers better function or style. Double hung windows are popular as they have two sashes that can be opened from the top or bottom. Casement windows, on the other hand, swing in like a door and open with a crank. Explore styles of windows before contacting a contractor to make sure you get a style you will love for years to come.
6- You May Need a Permit
If your new windows are larger than your existing windows, you will most likely need to get a permit. Permits are also required to cut holes for skylights. An experienced window installer will need to acquire the necessary permits before work begins, but it’s your responsibility to make sure this is actually done.
7- Check the U-Factor Rating
U-Factor is a rating that tells you how well the window insulates. The lower the number, the better the insulation. U-Factor is listed on a scale of 0.20 to 1.20. The recommended U-Factor depends on your climate. If you live in the North, windows rated at 0.35 or less are preferred. In the South, you only need a U-Factor of 0.60 or less.
8- Check the SHGC Rating
The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) tells you how much solar radiation or heat the window allows into your home. This number is listed on a range of 0 to 1 . In warm climates, look for the lowest SHGC rating you can find. In cold climates, you want a high SHGC rating.
9- Choose the Right Contractor
While it’s very important to choose the right windows for your home, don’t overlook the importance of choosing the right window installer. Get several estimates from licensed window installation contractors in your area and read the fine print. Windows usually have 10-year warranties, but your contractor should offer a warranty on their workmanship as well. Verify the contractor’s license and don’t hesitate to check references before you make your decision.