Basics of Window Replacement for Homeowners

Note: This article is a guest post written by Tom Casey of Home Town Restyling, a Sunrise dealer located in Hiawatha, IA.

Most homeowners buy replacement windows only once in a lifetime, so it can be overwhelming when they realize the cost and scope of a window replacement project. That feeling is often compounded by the realization that they really don’t know where to start in planning a project like this.

Some homeowners will throw themselves at the mercy of a retailer to answer all their questions. But in a world where it seems everyone wants to sell you something fast, it’s important to take the time to get all the facts you need before you start shopping.

Getting Started on Your Window Replacement Project

First of all, determine if you really need to replace your windows. Some issues can be resolved with a simple repair, but others can’t be fixed. Take an inventory of your window issues and get advice from a trusted professional to decide if repair or replacement is the answer.

If it turns out that window replacement is in your future, consider the following before you leave home:

Budget. When you establish your budget, consider how long you intend to stay in your home. Do you need windows to last five years, 15 years, or a lifetime? Do you have specific, non-negotiable requirements? Knowing this will help you determine if your price range will be in the low, medium, or high range.

Timeline. Decide if you want to replace your windows all at once or spread it out, replacing them room by room. Many people choose to spread out the process to have fewer, better quality windows installed over several years rather than a house full of lower quality windows that won’t last.

Replacement or new construction windows? Replacement windows refer to a new window, set into an existing frame. This type of installation has no effect on the window’s interior trim as it only replaces the actual window itself. The installation of new construction windows consists of removing the existing window, trim, and frame down to the studs, and replacing it with an entirely new window unit including new trim, inside and outside.

Style of windows. Decide if you want casement, awning, bay, bow, picture, double-hung, slider, or fixed windows. It will likely be a combination of styles depending on how many you are replacing. Pricing will vary based on style.

Material for trim and frame. Replacement windows come in vinyl, aluminum, wood, clad wood, or fiberglass. Each looks and performs differently, and cost differences among materials vary widely.

Window frame insulation. The hollow cavities of many window frames can be filled with insulation, which substantially reduces energy loss and adds durability to the frame itself. Less expensive windows are sold with no insulation; mid-range and higher-cost windows are filled with insulation.

Window glass options. Decide if you want double- or triple-pane glass. Also, consider the type of gas between the panes and the spacers used between the panes as those that will affect the insulation value of your windows. Finally, a Low-E glass coating reflects UV rays and helps control temperature fluctuations as well as protecting your interior furnishings from fading. These protective coatings are available at various levels of quality and price.

NFRC energy rating. Related to the frame insulation, window glass options, and other elements you choose for your windows, the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) label will tell you more about the overall performance of the window. This includes ratings for the U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient, visible transmittance, and air leakage, which together make up the energy rating so that you know how energy-efficient you can expect the new window will be.

Of course, these aren’t the only factors that affect window replacement projects. Homeowners will still need to pick colors, styles, and most importantly, the right installation team. But properly prepared with the basics of window replacement projects, homeowners can approach window replacement with confidence they will make the right decision for their home and budget.

Choosing a Window Installation Company

After getting an idea of the features and other options you’d like your new house windows to have, an important next step is evaluating your choices for window installation companies. Your replacement windows will only look and perform as advertised if they’re properly installed. And that requires finding a reputable and reliable window provider. With something as important as your windows, which also contribute to the safety and security of your home, you don’t want to risk a fly-by-night company and shoddy workmanship.

The window installation company you choose should have some basic qualifications. This includes being licensed and insured and having factory-trained technicians who are certified by the window manufacturer. Additionally, you can ask for references, check out examples of past projects, and look at testimonials on third-party review sites to vet your window replacement companies and narrow down your options. These elements can give you an idea of what you can expect from the company, including the level of customer service and workmanship throughout the window installation.

About the Author

Home improvement contractor and Sunrise dealer Home Town Restyling of Hiawatha, IA has been serving the eastern Iowa area since 1986. Sales Manager Tom Casey helps homeowners uncover the possibilities in their own homes. Keenly aware that he works in an industry where almost half the people report that they would not hire the same contractor twice, he takes pride in meeting and exceeding his customers’ expectations.