New replacement windows are an investment you’re sure to reap the benefits of right away, especially if you’re nearing summer or winter. That’s because windows are your number one exposure to the temperature outside. Think about it: they let in light, they separate you with just a layer of glass from the extremes outside, and they surround your home. So when you notice your heating or cooling bills creeping skyward, you’ll know it’s time to consider replacement windows. But there are other signs as well:
You’re putting your home on the market
The first is, quite frankly, when you feel you’re ready to sell your home. There are few things more tempting to a buyer than an assurance that maintenance will not need to be done on the home any time soon, and a guarantee that the windows are new prove a few things. One, you care about your home. Two, they won’t be surprised by drafts when winter rolls around and three; they’ll be saving on heating and air conditioning in their new home.
You feel a draft
The most obvious indication that you need new panes is that you feel a draft. This is a natural evolution of a window, especially if you have traditional wooden frames, which don’t hold their shape as well as vinyl. Even if you’re not sure that you feel extra air creeping in, if your windows are starting to peel or warp, it’s at least time to start considering the next step. Another indication is that you see condensation or ice on your windows. This also means that there’s an exchange of temperature that just shouldn’t be there. And if your windows are painted shut, well, it’s obvious it’s time for a new set.
What should you replace them with?
You’ll probably want something double-paned unless you live in an extremely hospitable environment. And most people now opt for vinyl composite frames instead of the traditional glass. They won’t crack or form gaps, which will let in air from the outside.
Home Replacement Window Types
When you’re thinking about investing in new windows for your home, you might be intimidated by the number of choices available. After all, it’s not just a matter of glass and wood anymore. But this is a good thing! That’s because window and insulation technology has advanced to the point that you’ll be replacing your new purchases a lot less frequently, and will stay a lot warmer (or cooler) in the meantime.
When you’re looking for new windows, consider the type of environment you live in. If you live somewhere very temperate, you have a lot less to worry about. Most of us (anyone who notices when it’s winter outside) should have double-paned windows to keep our heating and cooling bills down.
When you consider frames, you should probably check out the new vinyl ones. Although many window frames used to be made up of just wood, or perhaps coated in vinyl, many companies now make window frames completely of vinyl or another synthetic composite. That means that they won’t warp, and will last you a lot longer than your old windows. And because they’re so popular, they can be made to look just like the traditional frames you grew up with!
Vinyl windows have emerged in recent years as the most popular alternative to the tradition of wood-framed glass windows. In fact, even when you think you’re ordering traditional windows now, you’re actually getting a composite that includes vinyl. That’s because vinyl is, in a sense, the lifeblood of great windows.
Vinyl windows won’t warp as your old wood ones did, so you save money in the long haul because you won’t have to deal with the cracks, separations, and inevitable replacement. It’s easier to repair small damages to your vinyl windows, and when spring cleaning rolls around, they are easier to clean. Just hose them off on the outside, and wipe them down with a damp cloth on the inside.
Want a change of pace? Vinyl windows are no harder to paint than your wood ones, and many, in fact, come with a wood grain-like exterior for the look that you love. There’s no reason to stick with your old, sticky wood windows when you can have economical, low-maintenance vinyl windows.
It’s time to replace your windows, and you have several choices in the type of frame available. The most common types of window frames are wood, vinyl, and aluminum. If your choice is a wood window, you will experience several advantages as well as some disadvantages upon installation.
Advantages of Wood Windows
Wood has the advantage over other building materials in several ways. First, it can be painted or stained to be the color or colors of your choice. One side of the window frame does not have to match the other side in color. Therefore, you can paint the inside of your window to coordinate with your couch and chairs, while painting the outside of your window frame to be neutral to blend in with the rest of your outdoor paint. Wood windows also provide excellent insulation. Wood windows come in a wide variety of standard shapes and sizes. Wood is also completely biodegradable, unlike other window frame choices.
Disadvantages of Wood Windows
Wood windows require a great deal of maintenance to keep them from rotting. Wood needs to be painted or re-stained regularly to help rebuff water and subsequent rot. They can also be affected by the weather. For example, wood windows can swell after absorbing moisture due to rain. They are also expensive.
Wood Window Alternatives
You can buy a wood window frame that has vinyl or aluminum on the outside. This way, you can paint the frame that is inside your home the color of your choice. While the outside of your window will not be able to be painted, the aluminum or vinyl protects the wood facing outside. Unfortunately, there are not many colors available for the aluminum or vinyl side. This type of window can also be more expensive than traditional wood frames.
Composite window frames made up of recycled wood and plastic are available on the market. These frames, which combine waste wood fiber and recycled PVC (also referred to as polyvinyl chloride, HPDE, or high-density polyethylene) can be less expensive than wood or vinyl and will not swell like those made of wood because they do not absorb moisture. The composite window also maintains more dimensional stability than do PVC frames due to the wood fiber content. Manufacturers claim that composite windows are better at conserving energy than are vinyl or aluminum windows. However, since this is a relatively new product, the jury is out on how long composite windows will last. The styles available are also limited at this time.
With aluminum as the most readily available framing material, aluminum windows have long been favored for their overall strength, durability, reparability, and configurability. As a strong, low-maintenance, and inexpensive option to wood-framed windows, aluminum windows are found in projects ranging from residential homes to light commercial applications today.
Advantages of Using Aluminum Windows
- Superior Structural Strength: Aluminum has a high strength-to-weight ratio, and thus easily forms into any shape. Aluminum windows, unlike vinyl or wood windows, are far more resistant to normal wear and tear, denting, and weathering.
- Glass Deflection Standard: The glass deflection standard (L/175) is specified to assure that commercial windows are able to withstand large wind loads without significant deflection and potential damage. Whereas nonmetal framing materials have difficulty meeting this safety design standard, aluminum window products easily fulfill the requirement.
- Flexible Appearance: Aluminum windows offer great aesthetic appeal. Aluminum windows can be painted virtually any color, including historic window colors, and the color stays on over a long period of time.
- The Most Successful Recycled Material: With the ability to reconvert 45 percent to 50 percent of its substance into other usable products, aluminum is the most successfully recycled material available. No other material, whether metal or nonmetal, comes close. Using only 5,000 BTUs of energy to convert scrap aluminum to usable material, vinyl, wood, and steel require three times more energy to reprocess.
- Maintenance: Aluminum windows are practically maintenance-free. Even when scratched, they can be easily refinished to their original look.
Disadvantages to Using Aluminum Windows
Despite its many advantages, there are also some disadvantages to using aluminum windows.
- Energy Resistance Factor: Both wood and vinyl windows enjoy a slightly better energy resistance factor than aluminum windows. However, this difference can be easily minimized with high-performance glazing systems.
- The “Sweat” Problem: Aluminum windows tend to produce “sweat” in the winter, leading to mold growth. The hidden mold growth can be hazardous to those allergic to mold. Further, if the mold produced spreads to the wood structure of the house, it can rot. The “sweat” problem, while serious, can be effectively eliminated with thermal breaks.
Aluminum Windows: a Clear Choice
Aluminum windows have many advantages over wood or vinyl windows. Although not without disadvantages, the drawbacks of aluminum windows can be seriously minimized, if not eliminated, with just a few simple steps. An aluminum window is a great option for those seeking durable, strong, and inexpensive windows.