Windows and Doors

No matter how well you care for and maintain your home’s windows and doors, at some point they will need to be replaced. Weather, sunlight, and general wear and tear can take their toll. The process of sorting through all of your options for new windows and doors can be intimidating. But, armed with the knowledge we are sharing with you here, you should be able to enjoy the experience of using replacement windows and doors to help make your home more attractive and comfortable, while also making it more energy efficient.

When is the Right Time to Replace Your Windows and Doors?

The average life span of a window that is properly maintained is about 10-15 years. The same goes for entry doors. But if you see any of these signs you may want to consider replacing your windows and doors now.

  • Drafts and a chilly area around windows or doors
  • Suspiciously higher heating and cooling bills (heating oil or gas, electricity)
  • Windows that rattle or stick
  • Door that don’t close properly.
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Having a reputable company inspect your windows and doors for signs of wear or fatigue is a good way to gauge when – or if – you need to replace them. It will also give you a chance to evaluate the relationship you might have with the company should you decide to move forward with a window replacement project or to replace your doors.

Replacing windows and doors is typically not a do-it-yourself job. Windows, especially, are designed as a built-in feature and not intended to be easily removed. Replacing windows requires a great deal of skill and craftsmanship because a poor job could allow air and water to seep into your home.

What Type of Window Should You Buy?

Many homeowners simply replace their old windows with new ones that look exactly the same. But you can also give your home a refreshing new look by choosing from a wide range of window styles. The more you know about your options, the better able you will be to make the best decision for your home.

Here is a quick primer on the different styles available for window replacement:

Double Hung or Single Hung Windows

  • Sashes slide vertically
  • Double Hung – top and bottom sashes both open
  • Single hung – only the bottom sash moves
  • Screens can be exterior or interior

Casement

  • Hinges are located on one side
  • Window opens and closes using a crank mechanism
  • Low air leakage rates due to tighter seal

Bay Window

  • Combination of three or more lights that extends out from your home
  • Center light is typically parallel with wall
  • Outer windows are angled back toward wall, often casement style windows

Bow Window

  • Similar to bay window but with additional lights
  • Panels radiate out to form semi-circle extending from your home
  • Very elegant look and feel

Slider

  • Similar to single/double hung windows, but turned on their side
  • Either one or both sashes move by sliding horizontally
  • Great for tight spaces

Awning

  • Similar to casement windows but hinged at top
  • Open outward
  • Can be kept open for ventilation in the rain

Picture

  • Biggest clear viewing area of any window
  • Large, single center panel, flat
  • Optional side lights

Garden Window

  • “Box” style window that extends outside exterior walls
  • Commonly used in kitchen or bath
  • So named because many people grow plants inside the “box”

Specialty Windows

  • Custom size and shape to fit specific decorative or functional needs
  • Same materials and glass, but uniquely design and manufactured

What About Glass and Frame Materials?

No matter which style you choose, your new windows can be made up of a range of materials in the frame, sashes and glass. And your choice of materials is important for the performance and longevity of your windows.

Composite or vinyl window frames, while being a little more expensive, require the least maintenance, provide the best insulation, and typically have a longer service life. Wood and aluminum frames are less expensive, but they don’t offer the same degree of insulation and may shrink or expand, depending on the weather.

The glass package you choose is a critical component. Check the low-e and U-value ratings on the window’s NFRC product information label. Low-e is shorthand for low emissivity, a measure of how much heat is radiated from the substance. Window manufacturers use low-e coatings to reduce heat transfer. U-value measures how much heat flows through a material. A truly energy-efficient substance will have a U-value of 0.4 or less. Many window manufacturers will also seal argon gas between panes to further reduce heat transfer and improve energy efficiency. You should also look for the EnergyStar label, which indicates a more efficient window.

If you get a low bid, make sure it isn’t based on the installation of single-paned windows. Most contractors and installers should automatically select double-paned models to provide a truly energy efficient window.

When Should You Replace Your Front Door?

Entry doors can make a bold statement and are a focal point welcoming people into your home. A well-made replacement door can also help reduce your energy costs and preserve your home’s interior temperature.

But, like windows, exterior doors begin to deteriorate over time and need to be replaced. Look for these signs that your door is getting old and may no longer be functioning properly.

  • Is your door sticking and difficult open?
  • Are there gaps and cracks between the door and its frame or sill that allow light to shine through? (If so, there is also air coming in!)
  • Is the locking mechanism loose or pliable?
  • Are any glass panes clouded, cracked or coming loose?
 

Types of Entry Doors

Once upon a time, wood doors was the only choice for exterior doors. Today, many homeowners still like wooden front doors because they are elegant, versatile and provide good insulation. However, there are several very good options that can deliver superior performance and security.

Fiberglass entry doors are a very popular alternative to wood. Most people have a hard time distinguishing between wood and fiberglass doors because their appearance is so similar. If you are concerned about installing wood entry doors that might not perform well in cold or wet weather, fiberglass is a great alternative.

If you want a durable door that is also a good insulator, steel doors are a good choice for you. They are tough enough to withstand extreme weather conditions and do not require much maintenance. Steel doors can also provide a strong deterrent to unwanted intrusion.

How About Patio Doors?

Sliding patio doors are an important feature for many homes. The wide range of options today are a far cry from the aluminum framed “sliders” of many years ago. Today you can choose from durable and rigid vinyl or composite frames that do not stick or jam, plus offer superior insulating properties. Or add some elegance to your home with a hinged French patio door.

Summary

Windows and doors are a long-term investment. What you spend upfront on superior materials and a reputable installer can save you money, minimize maintenance, and extend the service life of your new windows and doors over time.

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