Sometimes the hardest thing to do is begin, especially when it comes to replacing windows. You may not know how to start, or what to do. You’re not alone. Buying new windows can be a complicated process, full of unknowns and questions. To help you navigate the window replacement process, here are the answers to several frequently asked questions people ask when buying windows.
What’s the right way to replace windows?
There are two typical ways that you can replace your windows: you can either do a full frame installation or a pocket installation. Let’s take a detailed look at both of them.
Full frame window installation completely replaces your previous windows, and it’s a common option for homeowners that want to change the size or shape of their window or want a different window type.
Pocket replacements allow you to keep the original frame, trim, siding, and casing intact. This method is commonly used when homeowners want to replace a worn window with a new window that’s the same size, and the current window frame is still square, level, and in good condition. It may also be advantageous when the exterior material of the home would be more impacted.
The condition of your current window frame and size of your window frame are the two biggest factors when determining how to replace your windows. If you need a new frame or want a different size, then a full frame replacement may be the best option.
Should I replace them all at once?
There are three typical reasons homeowners seek a window replacement: curb appeal, window function, and indoor aesthetics. These three reasons can help you decide if you should replace them all at once or one at a time.
Switching from a dated window to one that catches your eye can help increase curb appeal. That one simple, stylistic change can also give the front of your new home a focal point for the gazing eyes of passersby. However, updating every front window on one story or the entire face of your home can completely transform its look. You can create a consistent style with a new set of matching or complementary windows.
Often, your reason for replacing a window is about how it functions, not how it looks. If it’s just one window causing you problems, replace it! But you may also want to check the rest of your windows and make sure they’re functioning properly as well.
Most of the time, you’re looking out your windows from inside your home. Your home should make you feel happy and comfortable — and have a good indoor aesthetic. Sometimes, replacing one window in a room can improve your home’s aesthetic. Other times, you may have to replace multiple windows in the same room, or throughout your home, if you want to create a consistent style and enjoy it for years to come. In the end, it depends on your budget, and if you want to replace your windows all at once or in phases.
What style of window should I choose?
Style is everything, and there are several options to choose from. The most common window styles operate in two different ways: sliding and cranking. With a sliding operation, one or more panels can “slide” up and down in a track or one panel can remain stationary while the other panel slides alongside to open. A crank window opens to the outside of the home when the handle mechanism is turned.
Considering window operation is a simple question: would you rather push/pull a sash in a sliding operation or turn a handle to crank your window open or closed? In the end, many homes include a bit of each, depending on the application.
There is more to consider when it comes to window styles than just operation. Sliding sash windows, double-hung windows, single-hung windows, hinged crank windows, casement windows, and awning windows all have different looks, functions, and details Your choice of window style will depend on the design of your home and how you weigh these options
Do-it-yourself (DIY) or professional install?
DIY is possible with new window installations, but should only be undertaken by people with advanced carpentry skills. Installing multiple windows on multiple floors yourself can be a challenging, drawn-out project. When done incorrectly, it can negatively impact performance and aesthetics.
If you hire an independent contractor, be sure to ask all the right questions, check with references, and read reviews on rating sites like Angie’s List. If you take care to select a good installer, you could save money down the road from problems related to incorrect installation
A certified installer can give you confidence in the contractor’s ability to work with the product they are certified to install. Your new windows are expertly and attractively installed and can offer peak performance for years to come and may be backed by a warranty. You will work with a team led by an expert installer who has been professionally certified to install their own brand of windows. This is usually the simplest option for most homeowners.
Do I need Low-E glass?
Quality Low-E glass helps block out ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) rays, giving your home a wide range of benefits. Blocking a majority of the UV light can help reduce the wear and tear on fabrics and other materials in direct sunlight. Reflecting a good portion of IR light can help improve the efficiency of heating and cooling your home by controlling the passage of heat in and out of windows.
There are other solutions that can help block heat and UV similarly, such as standard thermal films or thermal curtains and blinds. Unlike most of these, Low-E glass allows you to maintain a clear view with plenty of natural, visible light entering your home. You don’t have to sacrifice access to the sun to get rid of its downsides if you install Low-E glass.
It’s important to realize the insulation of Low-E glass applies to different forms of heat, not just the incoming IR of the sun. That means that during winter, it helps keep heat inside your home, keeping you more comfortable.
You may not be required by code to have Low-E glass, but it can provide many benefits to your home that other windows can’t.
Can windows be installed any time of year?
Yes, they can! Although it might take a bit longer in winter, with a bit of planning, effective replacement of windows can take place at any time of year. If you're replacing multiple windows, doing so while the weather is warm outside will help keep unwanted cold drafts from entering your home during the project. If you replace your windows in the fall or winter, unwanted cold air can come in through the windows, but closing doors to the room the window is being installed in can help isolate drafts. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what time of year is most convenient for you.
How do I prepare my house for installment and how messy is replacement?
There are six main things you can do to get ready for the installation crew. We suggest you:
- Deactivate any alarm systems that may connect to your current windows. You may want to have a professional from your home security company disconnect the alarms and then reconnect them after your new windows are installed.
- Clear the work area of anything fragile or delicate. Remove anything hanging on the walls or sitting on floating shelves. Take down your window treatments if you’re saving them to use over your new windows.
- Cover your furniture with blankets or sheets to protect from dust created during the project. Move furniture four to six feet away from the window openings that will be worked on.
- Trim your landscaping if needed — bushes, trees, and shrubs — to give the crew enough clearance to work on the exterior of the window. They’ll need at least two feet to work comfortably. Bay and bow windows require even more room to work, so check with your window installer for additional space needs.
- Plan a separate workspace for the installers to set up their equipment. They will need access to an electrical outlet, so pick a spot within range. You may want to make room for the crew in your garage if there’s a chance of rain in the forecast.
- Keep your children and pets away from the work area. For the safety of the crew and your loved ones, restrict access to the work area for the duration of the installation. If you need access to something while work is going on, arrange some time with the crew to stop work and let you get what you need done and be on your way.
Replacement can get messy but don’t worry, the installation crew will take measures to protect your home and clean up after themselves.
What happens to my old windows?
As long as your house was built after 1978, you have several options when it comes to deciding what to do with your old windows. You can recycle them at a deconstruction service (or your window installers can dispose of them), give them away to someone who would use them, craft them into vintage décor, make a table out of them, or turn them into an outdoor decoration.
Replacing your windows isn’t an easy ordeal, but knowing the answers to these questions can make the entire process much smoother and simpler. Set yourself up for success and reference these FAQs and answers to get the right windows for your home.