See the Light! Selecting the Right Windows for Your Home
Windows allow much needed natural light into your home, offer a view of the world outside, and greatly add to the overall character of your home. If you’re thinking about building a new home, or remodeling your existing one, you may wonder how to select the best windows for your project.
Before you begin, remember that windows affect the appearance of both the inside and outside of your home and can make a huge difference in your overall level of comfort and enjoyment in your home. Selecting the right windows for your home can be overwhelming given all the styles, materials, and features available to choose from. In addition, since this project is a major investment and new windows are expected to last up to 20 years, doing your homework before making a decision can save you headaches later on.
New windows are usually installed when the homeowner wants to change the size or shape of the current window opening and put a completely new window in its place. This generally requires the work of a contractor to complete the installation and surrounding carpentry. They can make your home quieter, more attractive, and less drafty, and they don’t need painting. They’re also easier to clean than old windows with combination storm and screens and can reduce your carbon footprint.
While new windows generally do not cost more than replacement, the additional labor adds to the overall price. A big advantage of new windows is that you have the option to completely change the appearance and feel of your home—both inside and out.
Installing replacement windows involves removing old windows without disturbing the surrounding trim or frame and replacing them with new windows or sash that are designed to fit into the existing opening. Replacement windows cost approximately the same as new windows, but, with less labor involved, the overall cost is less.
Replacement windows are a great option when the existing frame is still in good condition or when the trim fits the décor of the home. Depending on the manufacturer, replacement windows can be a stock size or they can easily be custom ordered to fit any opening.
Know Your Type
Windows come in many shapes and sizes. When replacing windows, consumers have a wide variety to choose from:
Double-Hung: A double-hung window has two vertically sliding sash in a single frame. Double-hungs lift open while remaining flush with the wall, making them ideal around patios, decks, and walkways.
Casement: Casement windows are hinged windows that, with a turn of a crank, open outward to the right or to the left. Casements are common above kitchen sinks for areas where full venting windows are desired, and give you flexibility to group in stunning combinations.
Awning: Awning windows are hinged at the top and open outward. They catch breezes from the left or right and are often used above, below or alongside stationary windows.
Gliding: Gliding windows feature two sashes, with at least one of the sash sliding horizontally past the other. They give you the advantages of double-hung windows with a more contemporary look.
Picture: Stationary windows, as the name states, are windows that don’t open. Often referred to as picture windows, they’re typically used to provide maximum light and an unobstructed view, and are often combined with venting windows.
Specialty: Specialty windows are stationary windows characterized by their special shapes, including curves and dramatic angles. They can make a signature statement in your home and provide a delicate lighting accent.
Bay and Bow: Bay and bow windows are window combinations that project outward from a home. These dramatic combinations can add space, volume, and light to a room and add more personality to any home.
Frame and Sash Materials
Once you have determined the style or type of window, you next have to consider the materials the windows are made from. Currently, the most popular window materials are wood or vinyl. There are also variations including “wood clad” windows. Aluminum frame windows are also available, but are less popular because they aren’t as energy efficient as vinyl or wood.
Wood Windows: Wood features good insulating properties to resist heat and cold. However, the natural look of wood involves considerable maintenance. Besides periodic painting or staining, wood windows must be treated to protect them from moisture, movement, and rot.
Vinyl Windows: Like their cousin vinyl fencing, vinyl windows have become one of the most popular choices among homeowners. Vinyl is virtually maintenance free, provides excellent insulation, is reasonably priced, and looks great.
Vinyl Clad Windows: These windows offer the beauty of wood on the inside with a vinyl coating on the wood frame outside. This offers the maintenance free feature that makes vinyl so popular, while giving the beauty and natural feel of stained or painted wood on the inside.
Glass Window Types and Options
Clear: Clear glass is the basic material available for windowpanes. In recent years, with the advent of ever-increasing energy costs, more homeowners are choosing glass with special glazing options, like Low-E coating, to enhance energy efficiency.
Low-E: Low-E coating is a microscopically thin finish of metal oxide on the surface of clear glass that reflects a high percentage of heat. This coating allows the sun’s heat and light to pass through the glass into the home, while also blocking heat from escaping the room, considerably reducing heat loss.
Heat absorbing: Glass treated with gray, green, or bronze tints reduce heat gain by absorbing as much as 45% of the incoming solar energy, further increasing the energy efficiency of windows.
Reflective: Glass that has been coated with a reflective film is useful for controlling solar heat gain during the summer. It also reduces the passage of light and solar transmittance year-round.
Glass layers and air spaces: Homeowners can choose from one, two, or three panes of glass for their new windows. Single-pane glass is the least energy efficient option, providing only a thin barrier to the outside elements with very little insulating value, as evidenced by its high U-value. Multiple layers of glass increase a window’s ability to resist heat flow (decreasing the U-value) and greatly increasing its energy efficiency. An even more energy efficient window results when the double or triple-paned glass is a Low-E insulating glass with argon.
Impact Resistant Glass: If you hit this glass with a baseball bat it may crack, but it will not shatter and spread glass shards. The beauty of impact resistant glass is that under extreme weather conditions, like those we often see in our area, it holds up beautifully.
As you can see, selecting the proper windows for your home is not a simple task. Remember: You get what you pay for. While cost is an important consideration, it’s even more important to choose a quality product made by a well-known company. It is imperative to choose a well-made window that will provide the energy savings, ease of use, and low maintenance to hold up over time.
Ensure you’re making the right choice by calling the experts at Tarheel Associates, Inc. They are more than happy to walk you through the many window options available and help you select the right style, glass, and materials for your home.
To receive additional information on a reconstruction or renovation, or to start a new project, contact the team of experts with over 30 years of experience at Tarheel Associates, Inc. by calling (252) 633-6452 or visiting www.tarheelassociates.com.