Buying Guide For Home Windows

Buying Guide For Home Windows

Windows are one of the most important aspects of a home's design and there are many things to consider when looking to purchase the right ones. It is absolutely essential to purchase windows that are high quality and well constructed as they have a large impact on both the interior and exterior of the home. Although better quality windows may be more expensive initially, it is one of the smartest investments anyone can make for their home, as they can save home owners a significant amount of money in energy costs and improve the overall look of the house.

According to AFG industries, a leader in window production, some top quality windows that are both energy efficient and excellently constructed can reduce the transfer of heat into the house by as much as 65 percent which can significantly decrease the amount customers might have to pay for heat or air conditioning.

When looking for the best windows, be sure to look for an Energy Star Label. To achieve this top level green certification, windows must meet stringent requirements set forth by the government to ensure that the window is up to par. An energy star label might be placed on any of the top manufacturers' windows, such as Pella, Anderson, and Marvin. An energy star label is one of the best ways to determine the quality of the windows a customer might be interested in purchasing.

Testing the Windows
To help home owners decide what some of the best windows available on the market today are, 21 double hung windows and 4 casement windows were tested for leakage. The windows were subjected to tests involving heavy rain and high speed winds, as well as a wide range of temperatures. There were significant differences depending on the brand and frame of the window.

Saving Money
One of the best ways to save money when looking for new windows is to choose pocket replacements, which are partial replacements that fit right in to the frames that are already in the home, rather than purchasing full windows. However, customers should only purchase pocket replacements when the frames and sills are still in good shape. Customers should also shop around for sales and deals offered by some manufacturers and keep in mind that some areas offer financial incentives and other benefits for purchasing Energy Star windows.

Choosing an Installer
It is important to search around for an installer that is fair, honest, and skilled in the field. Many manufacturers have trained installers that can assist you with certain products, which can cut down on costs. Some of the certifications an installer might have that you know you can trust include ones from the American Window and Door Institute, as well as ones from Installation Masters. Look around and get multiple price options and be sure that the installer lists things such as the brand, size, type and that the costs of parts and labor are available.

Types of Windows
Some of the more popular frames are made of wood and all vinyl, although the quality and price of these materials depends on the manufacturer, while fewer people prefer all fiberglass. There are still some all aluminum windows, but the material is not necessarily worth the price and has become less popular recently for this reason.

Wood Frame Windows
Most wood frames are completely made of wood, however, some may contain bits of other materials, such as plastic. Additionally, many wood frames have protective materials such as aluminum or fiber glass to prevent damage from the weather or to the painting. Although they often cost the most, they are generally worth the price as they look more appealing to the eye. Many brands allow you to choose the type of wood, whether it be maple, pine, or oak, and you can add different features, paints, or finishes, so that customers can really pick something that goes well with their yard.

Vinyl Frame Windows
Vinyl frame windows often cost less than other types of windows. However, there are limited style options associated with vinyl frame windows, as they can not be painted.

Fiberglass Frame Windows
These are some of the newest types of windows and although the material is fairly solid and it is not necessary to paint them, it is possible to paint them. The fiberglass needles make these windows much stronger, but there are a limited amount of brands available. Some of these brands include Integrity, Marvin Ultrex, and Pella Impervia.

Double Hung Windows
This is one of the most popular window types as there is a lower inside sash and an upper outside sash that move up and down and improve air circulation. Due to the tilt of the sashes, they are also extremely easy to clean. Installing a window air conditioner is much more convenient with this type of window than some of the other types. Many brands of the double hung windows were better at keeping out cold air and water, which can be an important quality depending on the weather where customers live.

Single Hung Windows
These are similar to double hung windows, but they cost less as only the bottom sash will move. The top sash is kept close to keep out harsh weather and elements. Although they are missing the ventilation that the double hung windows offers, the single hung also makes it very simple to install a window air conditioning unit.

Casement Style Windows
Casement windows are very unique in that they function like a door, offering an unobstructed view and a crank that lets customers open them. This function allows people to clean it thoroughly and creates good ventilation. They close tighter than some of the other types of windows as the frame locks tighter. This type of window was very good at keeping the cold air and rain out, regardless of the area that people lived in. It is not possible to install a window air conditioner in this type of window, which may be a drawback for some people.  

Awning Style Window
These are another type of window that close very tightly, as they hinge at the top and open outward. They deflect rain which sets them apart from other types of windows and they offer great ventilation. However, it can be hard to clean them and it is not possible to install air conditioners in these types of windows.

Hopper Style Windows
These are hinged at the bottom and can open either way, which make them much different than awning style windows. These are often installed near a door or window because they can improve ventilation in the area.  It is possible to place a screen in these windows depending on the way it opens. These windows leak less than other types and lock tightly and air conditioning units can not be installed.

Fixed Windows
These types of windows are different as they do not open and therefor provide no ventilation. They are often available in decorative glass or different shapes to add to the home decor.

Home Window Features

Cladding
Cladding occurs when materials such as vinyl or fiberglass cover a wood frame to prevent paint damage.

Double or Triple Glazing
This feature fills a space between two panes of glass with air or gas and offers better insulation. Although this often offers energy savings, it is still extremely expensive and it is not necessarily worth it unless customers live in extremely cold areas.

Low E Coating
This feature reflects heat, which saves money, yet still lets light in to the home. In warm areas, the coat goes on the outside to send the sun's heat out and in colder areas, it is put on the inside to keep the heat inside. However, this coating may reduce the visibility.

Tilt In Sashes
Most brands of double and single hung windows offer tilt in sashes for easier cleaning.

Home Window Brands
Andersen, Marvin, and Pella are the top window brands. However, some manufacturers may only sell to authorized installers. American Craftsman windows, which are sold at Home Depot, are available in multiple lines in many different styles. They have several custom options and features that can be specially ordered.