As a homeowner, you’re probably aware of the fact that your property needs constant upkeep and maintenance in order to retain its comfort, functionality, and value. Home remodeling projects are often also necessary for numerous reasons—whether it’s because you want to change the aesthetics of an aspect of the home, or because something is beyond repair and needs replacing. One of the most common projects homeowners complete is replacement windows—one of the most popular renovations made every year.
As popular and common as it is for homeowners to take on a window installation or replacement project, deciding on the details can be confusing for those unaccustomed to home improvement. One of the issues that makes window replacement complicated is that replacing a window is different from a new installation, which also means that they are not replaced on a one-to-one basis. When the old window is removed, only the sash and related parts are removed—while the rest of the window’s hardware remains intact. In fact, it’s virtually impossible for the entire original window to be completely removed, which is why every new replacement window is actually tied into the original casing unless you opt for a full reconstruction.
At Community Builders, Inc., we care about our customers and the homes they live in. Since 1982, our team of certified home remodelers has worked hard to help homeowners from Oklahoma to Arkansas find high-quality solutions for improving their homes. If you’re considering replacing your windows, this guide will provide you with important information you need to know about the project before scheduling your first visit with a trusted and reliable home remodeling company.
Signs You Need New WindowsIn most cases, the need for new windows is obvious. Scratched, broken, cracked, or foggy glass are all signs that replacement is in order, as are windows that are outdated, old, and deteriorating. In other instances, the signs that windows are in need of replacement are a bit harder to notice unless you know what to look for. Here are some of the most common signs to look for when evaluating the state of your window installations:
- Rising Energy Bills: Your energy bill will fluctuate month to month, but a dramatic increase in your bill—especially when compared to the same period of time in years past—is usually a sign that energy loss is happening at a higher rate. This could be faulty insulation—from your siding to roofing, or it could be from drafts coming in and out through your doors or your windows.
- Drafty Windows: To test for drafts near your windows, hold a candle near them and watch to see what happens to the flame. You can also hold your hand next to the windows to see if you feel cold air slipping through during the winter or hot air during the summer, it’s a sign of cracks in the window glass and framing or a problem with the window seals. Either way, it’s time for replacement when this occurs.
- Peeling Paint: Peeling paint, including paint that’s bubbling up or warping around the exterior of your window it can be a sign of trapped condensation, mold, or rot. Test by lightly pushing with a hard tool. If the tool sinks into the frame, replacement is your only option.
- Opening or Closing Your Windows is a Chore: This could be for a number of reasons. Warping of the foundation, rusted hinges, and other similar issues are signs that a full replacement is necessary for to have properly functioning windows.
- Repairs Are Frequent: In a lot of cases, repairs are often the more cost-effective option to pursue for homeowners. However, there comes a point in time when repairs either don’t work in the first place or can no longer maintain results. When this occurs, it’s time for replacement windows.
Window Styles and DesignsPerhaps the most decision-heavy part of the process next to cost. Walk into any store that carries windows, and you’ll find a range of window options that advertise different materials, designs, functions, and other features. Knowing what to look for can be a challenge if you’re not used to shopping for windows. To help you make sense of your options, here’s a helpful breakdown of some of the best-selling window features in the US—according to style, materials, and technology.
StyleThe style of the window refers to the shape and design. Certain window styles pair beautifully with different areas of the home, or with specific architectural designs. If you’re unsure whether the current window you have should be updated with a new design, or if you should stick with what you have, ask a home design expert to help you make the best decision. The following list includes some of the bestselling window styles in homes across the country. For a complete listing of window options, contact your local window replacement company in your area.
- Double-Hung: This style is the most common thanks to its combination of practicality and functionality, with two sashes that open from the top and the bottom. Double-hung windows are thought to be superior to the more economical single-hung style, as they allow for hot air to leave through the top window, while cooler air enters through the top—a function that helps to cool the home.
- Picture: Picture windows are a fixed window style, which means it can’t be opened. This style is most noted for its ability to frame an outside view, similar to a picture frame. While not as common as other models, picture windows have become quite popular in houses that have vaulted ceilings.
- Hopper: This window style is actually a type of casement window that opens by vertically tilting inwards towards the home’s interior. This style is usually a horizontal rectangle that is hinged at the bottom, meaning that the opening occurs at the top.
- Casement: Casement windows function in the same way as hopper windows, except that casement windows are installed vertically and open horizontally. The windows are hinged and open either inwards or outwards from the side.
- Awning: Very similar to hopper windows only they tilt outwards instead of inwards. This style is perfect for those who want to add a feeling of space to their living area. Keep in mind that there can be no barriers outside the window.
- Bay/Bow: Bay windows and bow windows are similar window designs, as they are both made up with a series of windows that extends out from the walls of the home. The structure of these window types adds a beautiful and interesting addition to your home’s layout. Bay windows are often hexagonal in structure, while bow windows are curved like a bow. Individual preferences may dictate which option you pick between the two.
- Storm Windows: Mounted on the outside or inside of the main window, this additional barrier adds improved insulation during the summer and winter months making it perfect for homeowners that live where weather changes can be extreme.
- Egress Windows: This style is popular thanks to its equal focus on style and safety. Without compromising your aesthetic appeal, you can have an escape route in the event of emergencies. It also serves as an access point for emergency crews.
- Sliding: Available in two or three-panel styles. These windows allow for excellent ventilation. Three panels are best suited for those with a wider window frame and desire a more panoramic view. Two panels are meant for those who lack the extra window space.
Window panes refer to the glass part of the window structure and come in a variety of different presentations. In the past, most homeowners installed single-pane window products because other types didn’t exist. While they’re still available today, single-pane options aren’t as cost-efficient in the long run, as more modern window panes are engineered to create superior, energy-efficient windows that last far longer than the alternative. Here’s an example of some of the most popular alternatives to single-pane windows on the market.
- Double: Today, most replacement windows are double-paned, and chosen to replace single-pane products. Double-pane windows feature trapped gas between the glass that produces a tight seal, separating the two window sheets. The seal holds the window firmly in place and prevents energy loss for more energy-efficient windows.
- Triple: Advancements in architecture and window construction have resulted in an enhancement of the popular double-pane window model. Triple pane windows are similar to double pane and are differentiated by the third panel of glass within the structure. The third pane provides additional insulation and strength, resulting in a super high-performance, long-lasting window product.
- Quadruple: Quadruple-pane window products are the most advanced type of windowpane available. The insulation is further improved with the addition of a fourth sheet. While quadruple pane windows are far superior to other options, they’re also much heavier and more expensive.
FramesThe material surrounding the glass is the frame of the window. Window frames also come in a wide variety of materials, each of which has its own set of pros and cons. Choosing the best material for your window replacement will depend on your personal preferences and budget. Here are some of the bestselling options for window frame products that we’ve installed at Community Builders, Inc.:
- Wood: By far, the most popular and most used frame option since the beginning of home construction is wood. Wood frames are gorgeous, with a timeless aesthetic appeal and appearance and known durability. However, wood frames are expensive—and require plenty of rigorous maintenance to keep from deteriorating quickly.
- Vinyl: Vinyl window frames, made up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC’s), are known for durability and affordability. Vinyl windows are extremely popular, due to their strength and beauty, and above all, for cost-effectiveness. Vinyl frames also retain their color and will never fade, which means you’ll never have to worry about repainting them in the future.
- Aluminum: This is a popular material in classic and modern architecture, as it’s able to be manipulated into windows of unique shapes. Aluminum is noted for its durability and longevity. However, it’s not the most energy-efficient option—and not recommended for installations in colder weather climates, and can be sensitive to water damage, rust, and corrosion. New technologies in aluminum and steel windows are developing quickly, however, and modern products are far more efficient than they’ve been in the past.
- Fiberglass: This frame is gaining in popularity, rivaling vinyl as one of the fastest growing options on the market. The major benefits of fiberglass materials are that they’re very durable and much stronger than vinyl, and extremely low-maintenance. Fiberglass tends to cost more than vinyl but should last twice as long—as long as fifty years or even longer for a high-quality product.
Window Replacement Process
Like any home remodeling project, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle the window replacement process. In this section, we’ve provided a short guide for homeowners to learn what to expect when hiring professionals to replace their windows.
First things first, when possible, make sure to be at the home when the window contractors are working. Window replacement is an intensive process, and it is always best that you hire the most professional company you can find—and stick around to ensure that everything is moving along smoothly.
That said, try not to hover too closely once your crew gets started with the process. As long as the company you hire is licensed and works with a team of certified, background-checked experts, you can rest assured that they know what they’re doing and will need room and space to work to deliver the results you desire. While you want to stick around and be available if necessary, you won’t want to put yourself in danger by standing too close or getting in the way of their work.
Here’s what to expect before, during, and after window installation for your home, along with some helpful tips on making the process easier for you and your window contractors.
Before Your Window Installers Arrive
- Confirm the installation date and time: Contact your project manager to help you with this.
- Label any specific instructions: Saving the old windows? Label the windows accordingly, so the crew knows this.
- Remove obstacles surrounding your windows, especially for summer or spring installations.
- Clean the window area beforehand. Dust, pollen, and other materials will compromise the integrity of any caulk used.
- Spring for drop cloths and plastic sheeting to protect the home and keep the heating or cooling on the inside where it belongs.
- Remove blinds, curtains, etc. to prevent potential damage.
- Rearrange the furniture to be away from the windows but out of the way of foot traffic. Avoid making an obstacle course.
- Deactivate your security alarm, if applicable.
- Ensure pets and/or children are safely secured away from the installation site.
Meeting the Crew and Setting Up
- Meet with the foreman and go over each window. Make sure there are no errors concerning the windows ordered.
- Ensure drop cloths are put down before work begins. Your floors will thank you.
- At this point, new windows will be brought in while the old windows are removed. During this period is when its best to be out of the way so that the team can continue their cycle of removing and replacing the windows. Don’t let any windows be boarded over. Every window replacement should be complete or left alone until the next day.
- A professional crew will ensure that all tools are collected, rooms are swept clean, and old windows are removed or stored according to your wishes.
Installing Your New Windows
- Once the old window is removed, your professionals will begin installing the exterior trim or cladding. The exterior trim is responsible for the sealing needed to protect against the weather. Keep in mind that the exterior trim part of the process may be an optional or additional service depending on your contract.
- If your window installers are returning for a second day of installation, make sure that the home is cleaned and that all windows are tested.
- Once the exterior trim or cladding are completed, the window pane and frame will be installed into space.
Determining the Costs of a Window Replacement
One of the toughest parts about replacing your windows is determining the budget for the project. While window replacement is often a necessary aspect of homeownership and can provide a multitude of very important benefits—replacing your windows isn’t a cheap home renovation.
Windows can be quite expensive, and the cost will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and between window companies. Overall, you can expect an average of $400 to $600 spent per standard sized, double-hung, energy-efficient window installed, while the cost will be much higher—around $1000 or much more for a premium or custom-made, designer window.
The cost will be influenced by window style, brand, and contractors, just to name a few. To make sure you’re purchasing the best window products you can for your home, make sure to find a contractor, you can trust that will walk you through the process of choosing from the options.
To help you get an idea of what your window project might cost, let’s break down every cost factor you’ll need to consider when determining a budget for window replacement.
- Window Types: From the simple double hung to the awning, there are a number of styles to choose from as we covered in a previous section of this guide. Each style has its own baseline cost that will influence your starting point. For example, single-hung, standard-sized windows will cost far less—perhaps around $300 per window. In contrast, a bay window—which features three separate window panels in oversized presentations, will cost between $1500-3500 for each installation.
- Window Frames: While all window frames get the job done, they all carry a different price point. Some materials aren’t available in certain window styles so you will want to keep that in mind as well. Wood is an expensive option, and it’s also more expensive to maintain. The most affordable options are vinyl windows and aluminum, with fiberglass windows in the mid-range between both classes.
- Amount of Windows Replaced: The greatest indicator of the overall cost is the number of windows you’re having replaced at once. The number of windows being replaced determines how big the project is. As an example, installing five windows at $400 per window means that you’re looking at a $2000 price point.
- Energy-Efficient Options: While today’s window products are generally much more efficient than ever before, not all windows automatically have energy-efficiency built into its design. Opting for double or triple pane, high-performance sound-proofing, and other advanced features will influence the cost as well.
- Labor Costs: The more time it takes for the job to be completed the more labor you’ll pay for. That’s why your biggest opportunity in this category is to work with professional window contractors that have their process down to a science. You don’t want what should be a two-day job to turn into a two-week job.
- Warranty: Springing for optional warranties will cost more upfront, but it’s a worthwhile investment to know you’re covered should something happen.