Replacement Windows--Everything You Need to Know

Posted By: Sereena Barga Blog ,

Replacement Windows—Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve ever been in the market for window replacement, you’d agree that there are a plethora of different options and styles from which to choose.  It’s not as simple as going to the local hardware store and placing an order for a generic window.  Do you need grids?  Is the window energy-efficient?  Are you sure you need a replacement window and not a new construction window?  What about the price?  Should you even be replacing your window, or can it be fixed with new parts? And the all too important: How will it be installed? These are all valid questions that can sometimes be overlooked. In this article, we want to address some of these questions, so you can be more of an expert when your next project needs replacement windows.  

So, what exactly is a replacement window?  It’s a vinyl, aluminum, or wood window that is custom-made in order to replace an existing one that has outlived its normal lifespan. A new construction window is mostly for new buildouts and attached to the rough framing, whereas a replacement window fits into an existing finished opening and needs to look like it was always there.

Replacement vs. Repair

So how do you know if you need to replace or repair it?  On many occasions, a replacement window is necessary when the existing window is deteriorated or damaged and its ease of operation is long gone, creating a hazard to your residents. Insulated dual-pane glass has a limited lifespan and will show evidence of condensation between the panes when it has finally expired. The cost of replacement glass, parts, and labor can far exceed the cost of a new replacement window that comes with a new warranty.

With that said, there are situations where interior/exterior finishes may be so altered that repair is the way to go. There are several major window/door parts companies that sell online and will assist in matching parts to specific window manufacturers, as there are hundreds and no two are identical.

Window Replacement Costs

The average buyer typically spends anywhere between $300-$800 on a window.  If you’re on a budget, cheaper windows can be found, but most would not meet current energy codes. Labor costs for replacing or installing your windows vary, depending on the application.  Contributing factors—such as material, glazing package, size, and type of window—all play a role in the total cost.  It’s safe to say that when considering a full window replacement, the investment in energy savings and curb appeal, along with cost, should be taken into account. Most replacement windows pay for themselves through energy savings in 8-12 years and some sooner—depending on what the existing window is. For example, when removing/replacing steel casement windows, the typical ROI (Return on Investment) is 5-7 years.

Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung Replacement Windows

Single-hung and double-hung windows are common window types for many property owners.  They both have a lower sash that slides upward for ventilation.  In a single-hung window, only one sash is operable, whereas on a double-hung both sashes are operable.  Double-hung are mainly a residential option where both sashes tilt in for cleaning, but the window is not airtight, despite weatherstripping and other sealants. With a single-hung the top sash is fixed in place cutting any air infiltration in half, not to mention 50% fewer working parts and not worrying about the top sash dropping down behind window treatments. Typically, double-hung windows cost 10-25% more than a single-hung because of the added working parts and manufacturing.

Vinyl vs. Aluminum

When you’re ready to replace your windows, do you choose vinyl or aluminum? Which is better?  It can be a matter of preference or necessity. Vinyl windows are designed mainly for residential applications, including garden apartments and other commercial buildings under four stories. It has superior insulating values over aluminum; and the color is the actual material so there is no finish to scratch, making it maintenance-free. Its cost-effectiveness over aluminum and increased technology has made it the product of choice. So, what about aluminum?

Since the 1960s, aluminum has been used in window fabrication for its versatility and strength. Aluminum windows can be designed to withstand wind and water loads in high-rise applications and still offer some excellent thermal qualities. New innovations in “thermally-breaking” the frame with strut material prohibit exterior climate extremes from being conducted to the interior which adds comfort to any living space. The color options are limitless, and some finishes carry a 20+ year warranty. The main advantage is strength and the ability to withstand the wear and tear that often happens in rental properties. It also costs more than vinyl, but depending on the application, codes and engineering specifications are often required.

Windows are meant to be an investment in your property’s future--adding both value and curb appeal. If you have questions or are unsure what kind of fenestration (window) options you need, give us a call.  We would be glad to help you.

MICHAEL MASTROBERTI

Window City