The HEGG Guide for Replacement Windows
Buying a house is a tremendous accomplishment, but the upkeep and repair projects can feel overwhelming at times. Determining which projects to tackle first and then finding a reliable contractor to help execute those tasks can feel daunting, but replacement windows do not have to be one of those intimidating home improvement tasks.
New windows can have a huge impact on the energy efficiency and style of your home, so it is important to review the options and find what works best for your particular project. Windows come in a variety of styles, materials, and colors, and the right replacement contractor can help guide you through the options so you can choose the best solution.
Replacing your windows is typically a once or twice-in-a-lifetime event, and although it may seem intimidating at first, taking the time to review the available choices will ensure that you make the right decision for your home now and for years to come. This guide provides a basic outline of window types, materials, glass options, and more, and it offers some caveats to be on the lookout for throughout the replacement process. Prefer to talk to someone in person? Click here to complete the contact us form to hear from a HEGG representative.
How can you tell you need to replace your windows?
Drafts, Breezes, and Higher Energy Bills
Replacing your windows can be a major improvement to your home, but how do you know when you need to start replacing them? Depending on the brand and material, windows may have a variety of lifespans, but there are a few telltale signs to keep an eye out for.
Have you ever been sitting in a room during the winter and felt the cold air streaming in from the window? This is a sign that your window is not insulating as well as it should be, and it is potentially time to replace it. While it may seem obvious, many people do not notice how drafty their windows are until they focus their attention on each one individually, so it is important to monitor your windows and feel for drafts throughout the year, not just in the colder months. In fact, homeowners typically lose more cool air in the summer than warm air in the winter, meaning the lack of energy efficiency is even greater in the warmer months.
A key indicator of inefficient windows is rising energy bills, and this is something that window replacement can help alleviate. With drafty windows, HVAC systems have to work harder to maintain a consistent temperature within the residence, resulting in the homeowner paying more in heating and cooling bills. If you have seen a steady increase in your bills, it may be time to consider replacing your windows.
Windows Don’t Open or Operate Well
It seems obvious, but many people ignore a malfunctioning window for years until they decide to finally bite the bullet and replace it. Sometimes, it is possible to fix a window with a new part; however, tracking down the correct part can be difficult depending on the age and manufacturer of the window. If your window does not open at all, that is a sign that it is too far gone to repair and needs to be replaced.
Aside from not operating at all, difficulty opening and closing your windows is another sign to start considering window replacement. If you have a double-hung window, this may mean it requires a lot of strength to lift or close the sashes. With a casement window, maybe the crank does not operate, or the gears fall out when the window is open. There are a variety of issues that could cause operational issues in a window over time, but the bottom line is it should not be a struggle to open, close, or clean your windows, and if it is, you should begin researching the process of window replacement.
Windows and/or the Surrounding Trim are Rotting
Rot is a sure sign that it is time to replace your windows. Sometimes customers can stick their fingers into holes in the actual window or the trim itself, and this is an issue that should be corrected as soon as possible. If left unchecked, rot can continue to spread into the walls and floors of your home, in which case it becomes much more difficult to correct. If you find rot in your windows, it is definitely time to replace them.
How do you know there is wood rot? If you have wood windows, you should review each one and scan for potential damage in the frame of the window in addition to the surrounding trim. If you have wooden trim on the exterior of the windows (cedar planks for example), you should also inspect those and make sure they are in good shape. If you spot any rot, try to assess how extensive the issue is and then reach out to window replacement companies to begin the process of replacing the rotted windows.
During heavy rainfall, do your windows leak? If so, it is probably time to consider window replacement. Water can come in through several areas, and this water can drip down into the wall below the window and cause serious damage to drywall, flooring, and other areas of the home. If you have drywall and see stains or plaster bubbling below the window, you potentially have water leaking through that window.
Sometimes leaks can be repaired but depending on the age and overall condition of the window that may not be the case. If you have a leaking window, you should begin researching the process of window replacement as soon as you can.
Increased Outside Noise
Does it seem like your typical street noise sounds extra loud lately, even with the windows closed? It could be faulty insulation that is allowing not just noise but also cold air into your home. If you feel like outdoor noises have become louder than normal, you should check your windows and the surrounding area to feel if there is any air coming in. While the majority of replacement windows are not soundproof, getting new windows can certainly help insulate your home from exterior noises as well as the elements.
Want to Remodel the Home and Change the Aesthetics
Are you tired of looking at the same windows as the past twenty years? Want to freshen up the look of your home? New windows are a perfect way to bring new life to a room. You could opt to replace the windows with new ones in a different color, change the style of the window, or you could add a window where there was not previously one. When it comes to replacement windows, there are countless options to revitalize the look and feel of a room or an entire home.
Now that you have determined it is time to replace your windows, how do you know what style works best for you? While there are a variety of window styles, there are a few tried and true options that customers return to time and time again. Or if you are looking for something unique, there are windows to fit that as well. Below outlines some of the options for replacement window styles for your home.
Double Hung Windows
One of the most popular styles available, Double Hung windows feature a top and bottom sash that both slide up and down. Double-hung windows provide a traditional look combined with ease of operation and energy efficiency. Additionally, many newer double-hung windows also include sashes that can tilt in for easy cleaning of the window exterior. Not sure if you have a double-hung window? If the top sash can slide down, then the window is a double hung. If the top sash does not slide down, but the bottom sash slides up, then the window is a single (not double) hung. Single-hung windows are often found in new-construction homes but are not a common choice for those looking for replacement windows.
Another classic style of window is the casement window, sometimes called a crank-out window. Casement windows offer a timeless look combined with a clear sightline to the exterior of your home. Casement windows provide exceptional energy efficiency, and some models allow customers to crank the window out to a ninety-degree angle for easy cleaning. Casement windows traditionally crank out to the left or to the right; however, if you are interested in a window that cranks from the bottom out then you would love the awning window. A cousin of casement windows, awnings offer a fantastic venting option without compromising sightlines to the exterior. Both casement and awning windows are fantastic options to consider for your window replacement project.
Glider windows, sometimes called sliding windows, are another popular style of window, providing ventilation as well as energy efficiency. Glider windows slide from side to side, typically with one side stationary and one side moving. A combination of glider windows, such as a center stationary window with gliders on each side, is another great option for allowing light and airflow in a larger space.
What is the term for a window that does not open? A picture or stationary window. Picture windows are a fantastic way to allow light to enter a room without compromising energy efficiency or style. Picture windows can be placed higher on a wall where it is out of reach, or they could be part of a combination of windows creating a larger, more dramatic opening. Either way, picture windows offer a great way to get more light into your home.
Bay and Bow
Many homes contain a nook for reading or dining, and these often feature bay or bow windows. Bay and bow windows are formed on an arc, meaning they jut out from the walls of the home and form a half circle or something similar. Bay windows contain three windows, while bow windows contain four or more windows. These styles of windows can add a dramatic flair to your home and create more space while bringing in more natural light as well.
Round Top Windows
Many homes have windows that feature a rounded top in combination with a different style of window (such as a casement or double-hung window), while other homes feature standalone round-top windows. Sometimes call half-moon windows, this style can add architectural detail to your home and change the overall look and feel of a room or an entire house.
Do you have a window that isn’t a traditional square or rectangular shape? A polygon window could be your solution for window replacement. Triangles, Trapezoids, Hexagons, Octagons, and more are all available in a variety of materials, and you do not have to sacrifice energy efficiency to get the shape and style that you are dreaming of.
Windows come in a variety of styles, and while the most common styles are listed above, there are even more you can choose from. Push-out casements (instead of crank-out), a picture window that has venting capabilities, garden windows, circle windows, and more are all available to suit the style of your home. Want to find out if HEGG can provide the window style you have in mind? Contact us here to find out.
Now that you have decided what style of windows you want in your home, it is time to decide what material they should be. Replacement windows come in a variety of materials, including wood, vinyl, fiberglass, and composite. Each material has its own pros and cons, which could affect the success of your window replacement project, so it is important to review the options and pick the best fit for your needs.
One of the most traditional window materials, wood provides energy efficiency as well as customizable options to create windows that can last for many years. Wood allows customers to choose the finish of the interior of the windows, whether that is through painting or staining the finished product, and most wood windows come with a variety of exterior options as well. Many wood windows have an aluminum exterior, such as Marvin Windows’ Signature Ultimate Line, which protects the wood from the elements and allows the product to have a longer lifespan. Aside from an aluminum cladding, wood windows can have a vinyl cladding on the exterior or a fiberglass exterior like Marvin’s Elevate product line.
Wood windows offer a traditional look and customizable options; however, they do come with some drawbacks. Wood windows require some sort of upkeep throughout their lifespan, including staining, painting, and the like. Wood windows are susceptible to rot and damage as well, which could shorten the product lifespan if the windows are not properly maintained. Finally, wood windows tend to be more expensive than some of the other material options. Nevertheless, if wood windows meet your criteria for window replacement, then the cost will be well worth it in the long run.
Vinyl is one of the most popular materials for windows due to its energy efficiency and low maintenance. Vinyl windows have come a long way since their inception, and they now offer energy efficiency rates that often rival many wood competitors. In addition, vinyl windows require little to no maintenance once they are installed, making this material perfect for those looking for an easy solution to window replacement. Vinyl windows come in a variety of colors but are most known for their white and beige options. Since vinyl tends to be a relatively inexpensive material to get, vinyl windows tend to be the most cost-effective option for window replacement.
While vinyl windows have improved tremendously in recent years, vinyl material does still have a tendency to expand when it gets hot and shrink when it gets cold. This means vinyl windows can be prone to drafts during colder weather and operational difficulties during warmer weather. This expansion and contraction could also cause seal failure (creating fogginess between the panes of glass) and shorten and lifespan of a vinyl window. Vinyl windows are not paintable, and many brands do not offer an option in a darker color (such as black) due to vinyl’s tendency to expand when it takes in heat. Despite its potential flaws, vinyl does offer a strong option for people looking to replace the windows in their homes.
Relative to other window materials fiberglass is newer, but its benefits are substantial. Fiberglass windows (such as Marvin’s Essential Product Line) provide some of the best energy efficiency numbers available on the market because fiberglass material has such a low expansion and contraction rate. Fiberglass is about eight times stronger than vinyl and three times stronger than wood, and this strength not only contributes to its strong energy efficiency ratings but also to a narrower, cleaner profile that provides more glass space than many traditional vinyl or wood windows. Much like vinyl windows, fiberglass windows provide a little to no maintenance solution, but fiberglass windows are available in a wider variety of darker colors (such as black).
Fiberglass windows offer a wide array of benefits to a potential buyer, but fiberglass often is more expensive than other options on the market. Buyers must weigh the benefits and potentially longer lifespan and decide if the extra money spent is worth it for their window replacement project.
Like fiberglass, composite windows are relatively new on the market, but they offer a suitable option for many replacement window shoppers. Composite windows are not just wood, vinyl, or some other material. They are a combination of materials (such as wood and vinyl), which allows a composite window to produce an extremely strong material that provides stellar energy efficiency. Composite windows are available in a variety of styles and colors, and they typically offer low-maintenance long-term care.
However, while combining materials to create an excellent composite window is possible, the stability and performance of a composite window can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Composite windows are also not the most cost-effective option on the market, and since they can be comprised of many different materials it is important for the consumer to find out exactly what the window is made of so they can discern its potential performance in their home.
Glass options are a pivotal part of any window, so it is important for customers to review the standard and custom options and find the right choice for their project. While different companies may brand their glass differently, most of the standard options are the same.
Double Paned versus Triple Paned
While single-paned glass was very common a century ago, most windows manufactured today have double-paned glass. This means there are actually two panes of glass protecting your home from the elements. Typically, there is some sort of gas (commonly argon or krypton) in between the two glass panes, and this acts as another barrier to slow the heat and cool transfer between the interior and exterior of the home. Double-paned windows are tremendously energy efficient and as such, they are the default for most window manufacturers.
Some manufacturers do offer the option to have three panes of glass on the window, known as triple-paned windows. These windows may provide more sound dampening and performance, but often the cost of upgrading to these windows may outweigh the slight benefits in energy efficiency. As with many elements in the replacement window process, it is important to consider all the options and make an informed decision that is best for your specific project.
Almost all windows now come with a Low-E (short for low emissivity) coating on the glass, which can feel confusing to customers unsure of what this means. Low-E refers to a very fine coating on the window glass that helps control the amount of light and heat passing through, which in turn aids in the energy efficiency of the home. There are various levels of coating that customers can choose for the windows, and this decision is heavily impacted by what region of the United States the home is located in. Homes in warmer climates may be more concerned with heat/energy getting into the home, so an extra Low-E coating may be helpful. This is typically referred to as Low-E3, but different manufacturers may have different terminology. For most areas of the United States that experience both cooler and warmer weather, the standard two layers of coating (commonly called Low-E2) is sufficient to meet Energy Star guidelines.
While most windows have clear glass to allow easy viewing of the exterior of the home, there are a variety of specialty glass options that customers can choose from. Whether it is a rainfall pattern, tinted, obscure or some other style, specialty glass can fulfill the needs of specific windows in your home (such as a bathroom) and add a sense of style. Manufacturers may differ on the specific patterns or styles that they offer, but almost all window companies offer some form of specialty window glass.
Tempered glass is another term customers may hear when shopping for windows. Tempered glass is glass that is stronger than traditional glass, and when broken, tempered glass is manufactured to break into tiny pieces rather than large shards of glass. This glass is used in a variety of situations where safety could be an issue (windows close to a floor, in bathrooms, etc.) so it is important to discuss this with a qualified window replacement contractor.
Energy efficiency is a big factor in choosing to replace windows, but the operation and aesthetic of windows is a big element pushing many to begin the replacement process as well.
The color of your replacement windows can have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your home. Maybe you want the exterior to have a sleek, modern look so you opt for black exterior windows. Or maybe a traditional beige or white looks more appropriate for your home. Perhaps you want the inside of your home to have a farmhouse style, so you choose black interior color with bright white trim. Regardless of the manufacturer, most window companies have a variety of interior and exterior colors to choose from. Some window materials are paintable, but some are not, so it is important to consider the current style of your home and what changes you want to make in the future. Some manufacturers offer customers the option to have one color on the outside and another on the inside, but this may affect the pricing of the replacement project.
Different styles of homes have different architectural elements that may factor into the style of replacement windows a customer chooses. If your home is stucco and features cedar boards around the windows, perhaps you want to keep that look when replacing the trim on your windows. Maybe your windows do not have any trim currently, but you would like to add some in order to add some character to your home. All of this is possible during the window replacement process.
Not only can you choose the color and style of your windows, but you can also decide if you would like to include a grid pattern on the sashes. Grids, also called mullions or grilles, can add some flair to your windows without changing the structure of the window itself. Window grids come in a variety of styles and colors, so it is important to review your options and decide what goes best with the style of your home.
Grids can be in between the panes of glass (sometimes referred to as “Grids Between the Glass” or “GBG”) or they can be external to the panes of glass (sometimes referred to as “Simulated Divided Lites” or “SDL”). External grids have a more traditional appearance and are common in historic homes; however, they are more difficult to clean since most grids are not removable. External grids also tend to be pricier than grids between the glass. Internal grids offer an easily cleaned option for individuals who want the look of a traditional window but not necessarily the maintenance. Different manufacturers may offer different profiles of grids so you can achieve the exact look you are aiming for.
Types of Installation
So you have chosen the style, material, and color for your new replacement windows, but how are those windows going to be installed? It may be surprising to learn that you have to consider installation style as well, but arguably the installation method is one of the most important aspects of your window replacement project. Installation methods are typically broken down into two types: Full Frame and Insert Installation.
Full Frame Installations
Full frame installations, sometimes called “new construction installations”, involve the complete removal of the window, frame, and trim in an opening. The window opening is usually stripped down to the studs so a new window can be put in its place. A full frame installation is more invasive and time-consuming, but if there is any structural or water damage to the opening it is best to have everything rebuilt from scratch. Due to the additional materials and time needed, full-frame installations tend to be pricier than their insert counterparts, but the benefits may be well worth the additional investment.
Insert installations, also referred to as “pocket installations”, are when a replacement window is installed within the frame of an older window. This type of installation typically requires less time and materials, as most of the window structure remains the same. Window casing/trim often remains in this type of install, so if you are partial to your current trim and want to keep it this installation method may be the best option for you. Insert installations may result in a slight loss of glass space in the window, as the new window is being fit into the opening of the previous window. While this may be a dealbreaker for some, for others the lower price tag of insert installations may outweigh the potential negatives.
The Importance of Installation
Regardless of the installation method that you choose, it is critical to select a company that can perform the installation flawlessly. All the effort put into choosing the perfect product for your project will be moot if the product is installed incorrectly. Many window replacement companies use subcontractors to perform the installations, which can be good or bad. Many subcontractors are excellent workers, but the company has less control over the installation method and best practices in the field. A company that has its own employee installers may be the better option as that company can ensure that any field worker adheres to the strict performance standards expected by that organization. During the quote process, you can also request information on any installation warranties offered by the company. A reputable company will often offer a warranty on its work, which could safeguard you against potential issues in the future.
Things to Look For
You’ve spent time and energy researching the type of windows that you want for your replacement project, but what about the company that you purchase from? In many cases, the company that you purchase from is as if not more important than the product itself. A well-organized, professional company can ensure that your replacement window project goes smoothly, with your house looking amazing at the end of the project. So how do you know if the companies you are considering are the right fit for your replacement project?
A major element to consider when selecting a company for your window replacement project is how much experience they have working in the industry. Has this company performed projects like yours successfully? Are there project photos that you can review to inspect their previous work to make sure you like the style? What is the founding year or the story behind how the company came to be? Doing some homework on the company’s history will offer insight into its capabilities and if it could be the right partner for your home improvement project.
Having trust in the company you choose to replace your windows is a crucial element of the project’s success, so opting for a company with superior customer service is a must. A company that answers the phones, responds promptly to inquiries, and follows up on any issues is one that can make sure your window project goes smoothly throughout the entire process. Do the company representatives you interact with make you feel heard and like a valued customer? Are they there for you when you have questions regarding your project? Having a company that has your back will validate your decision and make a sometimes-overwhelming project feel doable.
Online reviews have become a mainstay of the shopping experience, and it is no different when looking for replacement windows. Reading reviews left by previous customers can provide information on what working with that company is like, be that positive or negative. Average review ratings are a great way to compare companies head-to-head as well, especially when prices and products are similar. Nevertheless, while reviews are important, it is necessary to remember that not all reviews may be legitimate or valid, so reviews should be considered along with customer service, experience, products, and other factors.
So where are the best places to look for reviews? Many online avenues provide platforms for reviews, but some of the most notable are listed below.
- Angie’s List
The average lifespan of a window can range from 15 to 30 years, and proper, ongoing maintenance can extend that lifespan even further. The type of window that you purchase can play a large role in how much maintenance is needed over time, so this is an element to consider when shopping for replacement windows. For instance, a wood window will need to be stained/sealed on the interior and maintained so the wood remains intact, whereas a vinyl window does not include interior finishing maintenance. It is important to keep your new windows clean and in good condition so they will operate smoothly for years to come.
Window cleaning is most likely not something homeowners look forward to completing, but newer styles with features like an inward tilting sash make cleaning windows much easier than before. Most double-hung windows can be tilted inward to clean the exterior of the window from inside your home. This means no more ladders and fighting landscaping to clean those second-story windows! Many casement windows can be cranked out to clean the exterior as well, although not all window manufacturers create a window that cranks far enough out to do so. Glider windows typically have removable sashes that can be taken out and cleaned and then put back on the track, making cleaning a quick and easy process. Different interior finishes may require different cleaning methods, so make sure to ask your window provider what cleaning methods will help the interior of your windows stay fresh for years. Although cleaning may always feel like a chore, it is important to make sure your windows are kept clean to both extend their lifespan and beautify the interior and exterior of your home.
Window screens are a common source of service questions for many window providers. Over time, screening material may become torn or ripped due to animals, weather or simple wear and tear. Many times, window screens are covered under warranties so make sure to check with your window provider to see if they can help. If a window screen has torn mesh material, it can often be rescreened for little to no cost, making it look good as new. If the screen frame is damaged, that typically requires connecting with the manufacturer to order a new frame. Either way, maintaining the look and operation of your screens can help keep your windows looking great long after their installation.
You spent a great deal of time and effort researching your replacement window project, but what happens after everything is installed? Almost all manufacturers offer warranties for their products, but these warranties can vary based on the product line that your purchase. Some manufacturers cover everything for the lifetime of the window, while others cover everything for a set period. Still other warranties only cover select elements of the window, so understanding the scope and duration of your warranty is critical.
Another aspect of replacement window warranties to consider is if the labor is covered in addition to the product itself. Many manufacturers will cover the materials in the product but will not cover issues that are caused by poor installation. This leaves homeowners in a tough position, as the company who installed the windows could blame the manufacturer while the manufacturer blames the installer. Some companies will offer a supplemental warranty that covers the installation of the product in order to make sure that every element of the window is covered by some kind of warranty. When shopping for new windows, it is crucial to ask companies what kind of warranties they offer as well as what the process is if a warranty claim is needed.
HEGG Windows & Doors: Replacement Windows Made Better
Buying replacement windows can feel like an ordeal, with pushy salespeople, expensive price tags, and a myriad of product options often overwhelming homeowners. Finding a company that can guide you through the process and offer the support you need can make all the difference when replacing your windows. At HEGG Windows & Doors, we pride ourselves on a dedication to customer service and extensive experience in the window industry. Our outstanding team members will work hard to make sure your project goes smoothly from start to finish. Want to learn more? Call us today at 614-761-0890 or click here to schedule an appointment.