If window replacement tops your list of things to get done around the house this year, you may be wondering just what it is you need to know and how much it will actually cost you. Many homeowners dread the thought of having to replace any of their windows and some will only replace the windows when absolutely necessary such as one breaking or becoming damaged.
While you may not want to think about window replacement, it is sometimes a good idea to invest in new windows. After all, they help to keep your home ventilated, they provide protection while allowing you to see outside, and they can help soundproof your home. Broken, damaged, and outdated windows can cost you a fortune when it comes to your electricity bill, so replacing these windows often makes the most sense.
What is a replacement window?
A replacement window is a window that is smaller in size than the existing window that is found in your home. This smaller window is used to replace the glass portion of the existing window. When a replacement is put in, the frame, molding, and other components of the window are not touched and remain in place. Therefore, it is really just the glass that is being replaced, unless you have really outdated windows and need an entirely new frame and complete window.
Often times, replacement windows are referred to as insert windows or pocket windows. So how do you know when to replace a window? When you look at the visible portion of your window, if you notice any physical damage or deterioration or the window itself does not work well, it is time to have it replaced.
What is the difference between a replacement window and new window construction?
Replacement windows are just that – a replacement and remember, it is only the glass piece that is replaced. While this often seems like the best solution, it is not always the right choice for homeowners. Since the framed portion of the window remains in place during a window replacement, any damage to the frame is not replaced or corrected. Therefore, if the frame is heavily damaged, it stays this way, even once the glass is removed and replaced. Essentially, you will still continue to have the same issues, but with new glass.
During a window replacement, the window sills are NOT removed or replaced and will remain in place. If they need to be replaced, a contractor must do this for you.
If you find that the frame or area around the window is heavily damaged or structurally unsound, then it must be built up again and this is where new window construction would be a better choice. When you have the windows rebuilt, you will receive new framing and new glass.
What does it cost to have a window replaced?
There are many factors to take into consideration when determining the cost of your window replacement. For instance, price will be dependent on your location, the type of window, material used, and the type of glazing. Vinyl windows tend to be one of the cheaper options while specially shaped or designed custom windows tend to be the most expensive.
While the cost of a window itself is not necessarily expensive, it often comes down to the labor involved in the process. Some homeowners will try to cut this cost down as low as they can by hiring someone they know or a local handyman to make the replacement for them. Professional window companies usually employ multiple people to get the job done, so it can cost quite a bit in labor to have a company do it for you.
One thing to pay attention to is whether or not you will need to pull permits to have the windows replaced. Some cities and counties do not require it, while others do. Make sure you know exactly what is required to avoid hefty fees and fines.
Lastly, if you end up replacing all windows in your home, know that the investment tends to be worth it and you will see a return on investment if you choose to sell your home.
What is all this talk about single hung and double hung windows?
Both single and double hung windows have a sash or pane that slides upwards on them. This sash is what you unlock and slide open to allow air flow into and out of your home.
A single hung window has an upper sash that is not operable and is fixed into a permanent place. Only the lower sash portion moves up and down on a single hung window. With a double hung window, both the upper and lower sashes move.
Double hung windows are ideal for home that are large and two story houses, as it allows you to easily and quickly clean the windows without having to worry about climbing any ladders. In addition, if you have small children, you can choose to open the upper sash area and leave the lower sash intact.
If you are not worried about child safety or you are not in a two-story home, then it is unlikely that you need double hung windows and single hung windows are the perfect choice for you.
Should I just fix my window or replace it?
Homeowners who notice a large hike in their energy bill often associate it with the windows and will be quick to pull the trigger to replace all their windows. This is sometimes a hasty decision that costs them a lot of money when in all reality, it did not even need to be done.
Before you jump for a replacement, it is important to make sure that the seals on your windows are in good condition and not failing. Failing seals can cause a hike in your energy bill too as it allows hot or cold air to get into and escape from your home.
Replacement is often needed when you notice that the glass itself is failing. This happens when there is fogging present on the inside of the glass or between the panes of the glass.
Is there a right time to replace my windows?
While there are better times to technically replace windows, you can have your windows replaced at any time. If you were limited to only the best months out of the year, you would have to wait many months or years to actually have the windows replaced due to the demand and stiff installation schedules.
Your windows can be replaced in any season and at any time throughout the year, so when you choose to have them replaced is really up to you. Many homeowners like to choose optimal conditions to have their windows replaced, so you may find that having them replaced in the off season will ensure you do not have to wait in long lines to have the service performed.
One thing to keep in mind is that caulking may not set well in an environment where too much moisture is present or where there are extremely cold temperatures.
Can I replace my windows as a DIY project?
You could, but should you is the better question to be asking. While you can save quite a bit of money doing it on your own, it is not always the best choice. Professional window installers know what they are doing, they have the experience, and they have the tools, supplies, and skills to get the job done right.
One thing to keep in mind is that even if you do not choose to hire a professional window installer, you will likely need to order your window replacements through a window company. Most big box stores and home improvement stores do not sell replacement windows and if they do, it is unlikely that they come in the size you need.
Replacement windows are generally cut to size, often on site by the window company. Many of these companies will quote you a single fee for the window and the installation of said window.
Does it matter what brand of window I choose?
When working with a window company, they will often recommend that you choose a low-profile window brand or a generic window brand. You can get a great deal on generic windows, and they will last you a good amount of time too. Builder-grade or contractor-grade windows will perform similarly to big brand windows, but they come with a significant price difference.
Big brand name windows are nice to have, but only if you can truly afford them. Since they are not needed and are generally a preference, most homeowners choose generic options.
Do I have a choice of material options for my replacement window frame?
Yes, you do and knowing which option you want can help you get the best price for your replacement windows.
One of your first choices is vinyl windows. The vinyl framing helps to control energy loss in the home and you do not have to worry about painting or sealing these windows. They are cheaper than wood options. While they do look good, some homeowners think they appear to be cheaper in appearance than some of the other options. Many homeowners do choose vinyl windows for their porch or lanai area.
Your second option is metal. These types of windows are often times required to match the style of your home. Choosing something different could lead to a mismatch and look worse in the long run if the match is not made. Metal windows have come a long way and while once thought to be bad for energy consumption in the home, they are insulated well and can help you conserve energy.
Lastly, fiberglass windows are an option and tend to be a lot stronger than the vinyl option. Fewer materials are used on fiberglass windows.
What is the difference between single, double, and triple window glazing?
A double pane window or double glazed window is one that has two sheets of glass with an inert or air gas in the middle. These windows are ideal for energy efficiency and often installed on homes all over the US. Single and triple glazed windows are similar in that single glazed is only one sheet and triple glazed is three sheets of glass.
Triple glazed windows are best for homes that are in areas that experience extreme climates, whether hot or cold or both.
Buying Replacement Windows for Your Home
Many homeowners never want to think about or actually replace their windows, but it is something that must be done sometimes. It is an expensive purchase and can be a long drawn out process, especially for installation, but it is well worth the time, money, and energy to have windows that will properly insulated your home and protect it.