What to Consider When Buying Windows
According to recent JELD-WEN research, 67 percent of homeowners surveyed said that they need to replace their existing windows. When it comes to windows, the choices are nearly endless. Because windows can make a significant impact on the overall style, comfort and efficiency of your home, it’s important to consider these factors:
The most common materials used for windows are vinyl, wood, clad-wood and aluminum. Your choice depends on what factors are most important to you.
- Vinyl – A strong plastic material that is used for its durability, energy efficiency and ability to stand up to the elements. This material will never fade in color, flake, peel or rot.
- Wood – Wood in a variety of species, such as fir, pine, mahogany or alder. Each species has a range of characteristics, like grain, color and sap content, which contributes to its unique appearance.
- Clad-Wood - Like a coat of armor, cladding is a strong layer of metal on wood, providing extra protection and low maintenance benefits with no exterior painting required.
- Aluminum – A lightweight and strong material that is a cost effective alternative to wood. This material is corrosion-resistant and performs well in most climates.
Awning, bay, bow, casement, double-hung, fixed, garden, single-hung, sliding and tilt and turn – windows are available in many shapes, sizes and combination units.
In general, wood is more expensive than vinyl or aluminum. We also offer different pricing scales within our window lines – from custom and premium, to more modest options. When it comes to budget, it’s important to factor in long term value beyond the initial purchase price. Energy efficiency and a longer warranty can all help save maintenance and replacement costs over time. Resale value is also a key consideration – beautiful, more efficient windows are a big selling feature.
In the past, wood has required more maintenance than vinyl or aluminum. In fact, vinyl is virtually maintenance free. However, for those who want real wood with less maintenance, we have spearheaded a number of innovations. Windows with AuraLast® Wood feature a proprietary process that protects the wood against wood rot, water saturation and termites, all the way to the core. Cladding, an aluminum “cap” that covers some wood window exteriors and comes in an array of different colors, is also a popular option that never needs painting. We estimate that nearly 90 percent of our wood windows are sold with cladding. Our wood windows come with optional Neat® glass that has a layer of titanium dioxide and reacts with the sun’s UV rays (even on cloudy days) to break down and loosen dirt. This allows rainwater to easily rinse away grime. A thin layer of silicon dioxide lets water disperse evenly and evaporate quickly, which greatly reduces spots.
Vinyl is today’s dominant choice for updating old wood and aluminum windows, representing 65 percent of the replacement market. The easy-to-install pocket replacement window made popular in vinyl is now available in reliable AuraLast Wood. Wood and clad-wood double-hung pocket windows are designed for installation into existing window frames. The process is simple, quick, and preserves more of the home’s structure, which is especially important in historic renovations. Experienced DIYers who replace existing windows with pocket windows or sash replacement kits can save as much as 60 percent on material, time and labor costs when compared to traditional window replacements.
Wet, humid, hot, severe storms, salty air – different climates have different window needs when it comes to material and glass choices. Additionally, other factors to consider include privacy, sound control, home safety and issues such as moisture or termites. Different window options work to help control these factors.
Different options can add maximum functionality and style – an important purchasing consideration. For example, for screens, we offer integrated Phantom Screens® Technology that allows the screen to roll up and out of sight when not in use, as well as BetterVue™ screen which is a finer mesh that allows for better views. Hardware finishes and wood species preferences are important to consider for wood windows. Vinyl windows include adding BetterVue screens. Ordering these options as part of a new window package helps avoid potentially costly add-ons later.
Warranties are important: proper installation and following the manufacturer’s specific maintenance requirements are a must to maintain warranties and keep windows looking and performing beautifully for years to come. We offer an industry-leading limited 20-year warranty on our wood windows built with AuraLast Wood, limited 10-year warranty on aluminum windows, and a limited lifetime warranty on energy efficient, low maintenance vinyl windows.
Finding the Window that’s Right for You
Climate conditions and other environmental factors are key criteria when it comes to selecting the right window. Below are some general tips for materials and options to consider. It’s important to note that every homeowner’s circumstance is different, so this information includes general suggestions, not recommendations – you should talk to a reputable contractor or window dealer in your particular area to help select products that may work best for you. If your home experiences:
- Coastal climates, wet and damp and/or high humidity - Our wood windows with AuraLast Wood, which is specially treated to help reduce water saturation, and our vinyl windows offer good moisture protection. Because these conditions can require more maintenance, including regular repainting and touch-ups, windows that won’t need painting such as vinyl, and clad-wood windows are a good choice.
- Exceptionally hot/harsh sun exposure - Rather than window material type, glass and window location is key. The right glass can help protect against UV exposure and keep interior furnishings from fading. Choose insulated Low-E glass, which reduces the amount of heat entering the home and lowers cooling needs. It also blocks up to 85 percent of harmful UV rays that cause interior fading. In addition, we offer a higher performing LoĒ³-366 glass for extra protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Look for the ENERGY STAR label suitable for your region. Pay attention to window labels including the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), which indicates the ability to block heat generated by sunlight. The greater the protection, the lower the SHGC. U-factor is also important, which is the amount of heat flowing through a product. The lower the number, the more energy efficient it is. Proper overhangs and location of windows are also important. When building a home in a sunny region, place larger windows facing north.
- Severe, hurricane-force storms - In hurricane-prone regions, our wood, vinyl and aluminum windows offer ImpactGard® protection, which is designed to meet the nation’s toughest building codes. ImpactGard protection resists impacts from wind borne debris and keeps windows sealed and intact during storms. There are five impact glass options available to fit different regions and budgets.
We offer a variety of textured, tinted and decorative glass for windows that provides privacy while still allowing natural light to enter.
ImpactGard protection also offers benefits beyond severe storm protection. Sound transmission is reduced. Compared to a single pane of glass that has a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of around 27, an insulated laminated glass unit can achieve an STC rating of up to 35, which has the ability to block even loud construction noises. Even without laminated glass, there are other options for reducing sound transmission with insulated replacement windows.
Home Safety and Security
Consider glass strength and the locking mechanism. Most of our windows meet forced entry test requirements. Other technologies such as Low-E glass use thicker double strength glass, which is twice as resistant to breakage compared to single strength glass. Our vinyl windows with the MAG-Lock® have a locking mechanism with a tamper-resistant design that is easy to operate with one hand, locks automatically when shut, and can’t be seen from the outside, which offers additional protection. ImpactGard protection, made for extreme weather conditions, also provides added security.
Termites can be found in nearly every state in the nation, causing billions of dollars worth of damage to buildings and homes. Choose a material specifically designed to prevent insect damage, such as our windows made from AuraLast Wood, or vinyl or aluminum windows.
We hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to answer any window questions you may have.