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Understanding Replacement Windows

This information comes from J. Bryant Boyd, Architect latest newsletter.

“Choosing the right window involves finding ones that fit the character of the home, offer energy efficiency, and meet a maintenance schedule and budget that corresponds to your lifestyle. Let’s take a closer look at the options.

Wood

  • When properly maintained a wood sash & frame will last indefinitely.
  • Clean with a mild solution once a year.
  • Touch up damaged areas in the painted finish with a matching high quality primer and paint.
  • Routinely inspect exterior caulking and repair loose caulk and seal any gaps.
  • Replacing just the sashes is an DIY friendly job; leave it to a pro to put in a full-frame unit.
  • Wood is a natural insulator.
  • Energy star-rated windows can save up to 24% off your heating and cooling costs.
  • Available in any size, shape and style.
  • Expensive

Aluminum

  • Need virtually no maintenance beyond the occasional washing.
  • Thermal break required to insure good insulation.
  • Limited color selection.
  • Aluminum clad.
  • Least expensive.

Vinyl

  • Make up the largest portion of the market.
  • Need virtually no maintenance beyond the occasional washing.
  • Good at insulating heat and resisting moisture.
  • Limited color selection. Subject to fading.
  • Moderate price

Fiberglass

  • Relatively new to the market.
  • As maintenance free as vinyl. Can be painted to suit homeowner needs.
  • From an energy efficiency standpoint, superior to wood, composite, vinyl and most hybrid frames.
  • Easy to shape and sculpture.
  • Provide a stronger and more durable frame than vinyl. Good for large openings.
  • Moderately expensive.

Clad

  • Popular aesthetic choice. Maintenance free aluminum or vinyl is used to weather the outside; with wood retained for an attractive interior.
  • Offer all benefits of wood.
  • Variety of colors.
  • Moderately expensive.

Composite and Hybrid

  • Made up of different compressed wood particles.
  • Slightly more durable and energy efficient than wood and wood clad frames.
  • Has a more wood look than vinyl without the maintenance issues.
  • Can be painted.
  • Very expensive but gaining popularity.

Adding to the selection process are choices in window types and glazing choices. Depending on your taste and needs, the window world offers a variety of beautiful styles to enhance your living space. And what a difference your choice can make. Double hung, casement, fixed, slider, awning are just a few of the delightful choices available.

This Old House magazine comments that ‘vintage single-pane wavy glass can’t be beat for character but provides little protection against heat and cold’.

The March 2010 issue of This Old House magazine offers an informative article on windows that succinctly addresses material types, styles and installation methods. This handy article is worth keeping for future use.

Other advice worth considering is to get the most window you can for the money even if it means doing a whole-house replacement in two or three stages as opposed to all at once. In the long run you’ll be happier with a better quality window.

After all the homework is done, consumers should consider the level of service provided by the manufacturer and contractor after the sale.  Windows are only as good as their installation and subsequent care they receive.

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512-930-5188
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