Choosing Window Replacements

When choosing window replacements, there are a wide range of glass options, styles and materials to consider. Consider your replacement carefully. It is a long term investment in your home. There are many combinations of window options. You must evaluate your needs, your desire for appearance and your budget.

Glass Options

Clear window panes are not all the same. There are factors that affect the window pane’s ability to insulate and protect your home against the elements. There are two types of energy-efficient ratings. The first is called the R-value. This refers to the window’s resistance to heat value. A high R-value means better the insulation. The second is called the U-value. This refers to the window’s heat loss value throughout the window, including the frame. The lower the U-value, the less heat loss.

There are other factors to consider when choosing the type of glass for your window replacement. These are the glazing layer, the glazing material and the coating material.

Glazing Layer

The more glazing layers, the more insulation. Single glaze windows are the least insulating. A double pane glaze will cut heat loss in half from a single glaze. Sometimes more than that, especially when the space between the panes is filled with a gas that lowers the conductance. Triple glaze windows have the addition of a plastic or glass layer in between and provide the most insulation from the elements.

Glazing Material

Besides clear glazing there are tints available. You can cut down on heat and glare from the sun by purchasing a tinted glaze window. There are tints that absorb half of the heat from incoming sunlight. They will reduce cooling costs in the summer.


Light reflecting and Low-E coatings improve window function in hot and cold seasons. A light reflecting coating will deflect light as well as reduce heat gain. Low-E coatings will allow full light to enter but will absorb approximately half of the heat transfer. The combination of these three factors produces a wide range of window options. When shopping for window replacements you can find a combination that suits your home.

Style and Function

Window manufacturers produce a wide range of styles. Your choice of style will be based on several factors. First ask yourself, is the reason for replacing windows to improve the look, the value or the function of your home? Your budget is another thing to consider.

Fixed frame windows do not allow air circulation. For this reason they are often paired with horizontal or vertical sliders. They are energy efficient and secure. A classic, double hung window has an inner and outer sliding sash. They allow air circulation in the top and bottom.

Casement windows swing open by means of a crank. They provide the most air circulation because they deflect air into the room. Bay windows project out from the home. They are made of at least three windows. One large window is usually parallel to the house with at least two windows at angles that connect to the larger, parallel window.

An awning is a casement window attached horizontally. It swings out from the top of the window. Awnings provide good air circulation. They are also secure. A storm window is a second window installed over the first window to protect your home from the elements.

Window Frames

There are many options when choosing the frames. Clad windows are the most energy efficient but are also one of the more expensive. They provide the beauty of wood on the inside with the insulation and efficiency of aluminum or vinyl on the outside. They are made in many colors and they are also low-maintenance.

Wood window frames are classic and elegant. They are one of the most expensive choices. They do require more maintenance. They need re-painted and are vulnerable to the elements. They will crack, warp and split over time. They also tend to stick in humid weather.

Aluminum windows are very durable. They are light-weight and easy to open. They are vulnerable to condensation. They are available in many colors and finishes.

Steel windows are the best choice if your budget will allow for them. They are the most durable and will outlast any other material.

Fiberglass is a relatively new option on the market. Fiberglass is able to support heavy glass so it is a good choice for large windows. It can be painted. It wont crack or split. It does cost about twice as much as vinyl windows.

Vinyl windows are dent resistant but prone to distortion in extreme weather conditions. They are one of the most affordable materials to choose. They insulate well and will last for years.

Remember, replacing the windows in your home is a large investment. It will add to the value of your home. Choosing the best windows is a major decision. You should carefully consider all these factors and options before making a final decision.

See Also:

Energy Efficient Windows Tips