Every homeowner loves at least one of the windows in their house…hopefully more than one! Maybe it’s a window that brings in perfect morning light. Or maybe it’s a window that let’s those warm winter sunbeams into the living room. And those older windows in a historic home can really create the tone of your interior space and windows contribute strongly to the curb appeal of your home.
During the time that you own a home, some aspect of window maintenance or window replacement is bound to come your way. Window projects can be daunting. Replacement windows can be very expensive and have widely varying characteristics. Which ones are right for you? Also, your windows are your connection to the outdoors, and because of that, they are also the most permeable part of your home’s envelope against the elements. Quality installation is absolutely critical.
What are the best replacement windows?
The best windows for you will depend on a lot of factors. It’s a complicated decision but we can break it down for you and make it a lot less daunting. First, are you replacing windows in your own home or in a rental or a home that you plan to sell very soon? While more expensive windows have features and attributes that make them superior to cheaper windows, it may take several years for the additional cost to really pay off. So, decide if you think you’re going to be in the home for five, ten, or twenty years. Second, you’ll want to consider the architecture of the home you’re replacing windows in. Is it a traditional cottage or a modern home? What type of windows were originally in the house, even if the windows you’re replacing now are not the original windows? What type of windows do other homes in your neighborhood have? What color do you want for the exterior and interior of your new windows? You want to be sure that your new windows look amazing and make your home look amazing, too. Next, you’ll think about function. Do you need opening windows? If so, how should they open? Should they slide up and down, side to side? Should they swing open horizontally or vertically? Do you need security features? Finally, you’ll want to think about performance. What is the climate like? Do you need windows to keep your home warm in very cold winters, or cool in very hot summers? Or maybe you’re in a climate with both extremes. You’ll select different glass types, glass coatings, gas fillings, and frame materials depending on your climate. Also, you’ll want to think about exposure to the elements. Will your windows be exposed to harsh afternoon sunlight, for example? Will they be on an upper floor where cleaning the exterior can be a challenge? If you take all of these things into consideration, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the best replacement windows for your home.
Should I replace my windows all at once?
A window project can be very expensive. Spreading the cost over time would be the most common reason not to do the whole project at once. There are a lot of good reasons that you would be better served to replace all of your windows at once, if you can afford to. And be sure to ask your installer if they offer any credit programs. Many installers have programs to help you spread the cost over a year or more, sometimes with little or no interest. Replacing all of your windows at once will ensure that you are able to get the exact same style and color options for all of your windows. Window manufacturers do update their styles and color palettes occasionally and it would be terrible to have slightly different windows in different parts of the house. Secondly, if you are increasing the insulation value of your old windows, then the effectiveness of the new windows is greatly decreased by having old windows letting in draughty winter cold or searing summer heat. Finally, you’ll actually end up paying more by splitting the job into more than one part. The contractors who do the installation will need to arrange for multiple trips to your home rather than setting up to do the whole project at once, although many times the project will still take several days. But even over several days, the installers can make hte project more efficient and therefore save you some money as compared to breaking the project across two or three years, for example.
How much do windows cost?
Regardless of what type of window you decide to install in your home, this is one of the larger expenses for a homeowner. Most people will need to save up for a couple of years or access a line of credit before they are ready to embark on this project. For some people, it’s a project to undertake even before moving into a home, just after purchasing it. One of the largest determining factors in the cost of a window replacement project is, of course, the number and size of windows in the home. The second largest factor is the material your new windows will be made of. Wood windows are the most expensive. Vinyl windows tend to be the least expensive, although high-quality vinyl windows can be quite expensive, too. A third important factor in the cost of your project is the brand and series of windows that you select. Some brands like Ply Gem have some low-priced series of windows…and also some higher-end windows that cost more. Other brands like Andersen have different series of windows, starting from the more expensive end of the spectrum and then going up into the extremely expensive end of things. Often, although not always, you’ll be getting higher quality products the more you pay for them. That means longer warranties, higher-quality finishes, more durable moving parts, and longer-lasting glass coatings and gas fillers. In addition to the cost of the new windows, there is the labor to remove the old windows and install the new windows. This expense can vary a lot depending on demand (often driven by season), region, and the level of professionalism you’re getting from your installer. We often talk about a very rough installation cost of $500-$700 per window. Obviously, that number can vary a lot based on the position of the window (upper floors cost more) and other factors like the size of the window and possibly repair work that may be necessary once the old windows are removed. For example, if rotten wood or water intrusion are discovered, that will add to the cost of installation. Usually, unforeseen repair work is handled on an hourly basis and will be spelled out in the contract you sign before your windows have even been ordered.