Replacing windows is a huge chore and it’s a big expense, which is exactly why you want to be sure your investment will pay off. Consider your answers to these five important questions before you replace your windows, and make sure you end up with exactly what you want for your home.
1. Is this a real replacement, or a retrofit?
If you're doing construction on your home, such as replacing siding or stucco, replacement windows may truly be in order. This requires cutting the stucco or siding, removing the flashing paper, and taking out the whole window. In a retrofit, your stucco and home exterior will not be damaged. The perimeter of the old window frame will not be removed. Instead, a new window will be installed inside the old framework. The new windows will be slightly smaller as a result, but it's usually barely noticeable.
2. What kind of window frame do you want?
Choose the window frames that work best for you. There are several choices in window frames. Vinyl frames are popular because they're low-maintenance and affordable. However, vinyl can't be painted. Usually, vinyl windows will be either white or brownish in color. Aluminum frames insulate well, and are available in a darker frame color. Fiberglass frames require no maintenance at all and can be painted, but fiberglass is expensive. Wood is still a popular window choice and comes in all sorts of colors, but it must be painted often and does not last as long as your other choices.
3. Should they be single or dual-glazed?
Single-glazed windows are made with just one pane of glass. That makes them easy to replace when they break and they're easy to clean, but they're not very insulating. Double-glazed windows are made with two panes of glass with a layer of air trapped between, which offers a lot of insulation. This seal will fail after 15 to 20 years, however, and replacing a broken double-glazed window is expensive.
4. How will this increase home value?
Good windows are a huge selling point, and bad windows are a big deterrent. Even if you aren’t planning on leaving your home any time soon or ever, it never hurts to think about your home as an investment. Choose windows that will become a selling point. It may be worth the investment to install long-lasting fiberglass frames or dual-glazed panes, for example, over the wood that will deteriorate sooner and single panes that don’t insulate as well.
5. Don't forget to think about energy.
Look for the ENERGY STAR label on your windows when picking out a new set. These windows prevent sun and heat from radiating through into your home. You may even be eligible for a tax credit if you replace all your home windows with a more energy-efficient design. Special glass coatings help determine how energy efficient a window will be.
Replacing windows is a time-consuming and expensive task, even when you bargain shop. But if you take the time to consider your options and figure out which is going to be the best for you, the end result will be well worth the effort. New windows are an investment, but they’re also a huge home feature that you’re going to be living with for the next several years.