Replacement Windows

Top 10 Things to Know Before Replacing Your Windows

4 min read

1. Should you do it yourself or hire a professional?

You’ve heard the old adage: “measure twice, cut once”. In the world of replacement windows, this couldn’t ring more true. The correct window type, fit, and proper, professional installation can make or break a replacement window project. If you’re replacing wood or metal windows, this can require additional expertise and work. If you choose a professional, check the reputation of the company. Though there are many reputable window installation companies to choose from, you should be aware that there are disreputable ones as well. Look for a professional that backs their installation work with a warranty on labor and parts in addition to a product warranty.

2. Consider how long you plan to be living with your new windows.

If you’re replacing windows because you’re selling your house your priorities may differ. While beauty, maintenance-freedom, and energy savings is a common consideration, remember that when selling your home, vinyl windows recoup an average of 78% of the initial investment according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, and can be an advantageous selling point to prospective home buyers – especially when providing a transferable warranty to the new homeowner. Consider which features are most important to you, such as price, quality and durability, energy efficiency, warranties and repair, appearance and design, and ordering and installation.

3. Read the label and do your homework.

In addition to recommendations from industry experts, family and friends, do your own homework and check the label before you make a purchase. Look for credible, independent third-party endorsements such as Good Housekeeping, AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association), NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) and the ENERGY STAR label. These organizations use carefully constructed criteria to evaluate manufacturers and products. If a company or product doesn’t make their list, they most likely should not make yours.

4. Learn the language for energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy designed to help you save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. The NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) is a third-party, non-profit organization that independently tests and certifies all ENERGY STAR qualified windows so you can compare the energy and performance features.

The NFRC label can be found on all ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors, and skylights and provides performance ratings in five categories:

U-Factor measures the rate of heat transfer and tells you how well the window insulates. U-factor values generally range from 0.25 to 1.25 and are measured in Btu/h·ft2·°F. The lower the U-factor, the better the window insulates.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures the fraction of solar energy transmitted and tells you how well the product blocks heat caused by sunlight. SHGC is measured on a scale of 0 to 1; values typically range from 0.25 to 0.80. The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat the window transmits.

Visible Transmittance (VT) measures the amount of light the window lets through. VT is measured on a scale of 0 to 1; values generally range from 0.20 to 0.80. The higher the VT, the more light you see.

Air Leakage (AL) measures the rate at which air passes through joints in the window. AL is measured in cubic feet of air passing through one square foot of window area per minute. The lower the AL value, the less air leakage. Most industry standards and building codes require an AL of 0.3 cf·m/ft2.

Condensation Resistance measures how well the window resists water build-up. Condensation Resistance is scored on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the condensation resistance factor, the less build-up the window allows.

5. Make a comparison checklist.

You’ve determined that price, energy efficiency, warranties and service are most important to you, for example. Next, develop a comparison checklist to determine which products and companies can provide the highest level at the lowest possible price.

6. Consider price.

Does the price of the window include accessories you may need as well as installation?

7. Consider warranties.

Does the warranty cover air leaks and broken seals and if so, for how long? Does the warranty cover labor and glass breakage? Is the company reputable and what recourse do you have if they go out of business? Do they carry liability insurance and are they licensed to work in your state? Do they have national backing by a third-party such as Good Housekeeping? Is the warranty transferrable to the next homeowner?

8. Consider energy efficiency.

If your home is located in a warmer, sunny climate, the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measurement will be more of a consideration. Consider heat-reflective Low E glass and insulating Argon Gas to not only block the sun’s rays in the summer but to prevent heat loss in the winter.

9. Consider quality and durability.

For life-long durability, choose solidly constructed frames with steel, reinforced sashes that prevent warping, and sloped sills to remove rainwater. Look for double fin mylar weatherstipping, double ventilation locks, and fusion-welded sash and frame. Are the windows custom manufactured for your specific home? Are the products American-Made?

10. Consider appearance and design.

Use an online tool to explore style and color options. Experiment replacing a double-hung window with a bay window or adding wood-grain trim. Visit a window showroom for ideas and invite a professional consultant to bring samples to your home so you can visualize the possibilities! Or check out our Photo Gallery to see our beautiful products.

BONUS: Most Importantly, have fun.

Replacing your windows should be a highly satisfying home improvement project. One that not only saves you energy and increases the value of your home, but also adds comfort, security and beauty inside and out. As America’s Largest Home Improvement Company, Window World is here to help. If you’d like more information, please call us at (386) 269-0022, or complete our on-line form for a free in-home estimate.

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