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8 Questions to Ask When Buying Replacement Windows


on May 1, 2020


Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is begin, especially when it comes to purchasing replacement windows. You may not know how to get started with the window replacement process, or what to do. 

You’re not alone. 

Choosing replacement windows can be a complicated process, full of unknowns and questions. Every home — and homeowner — is unique. So your needs are different from your neighbors’.

To help you navigate the window replacement process, here are answers to the most common questions people ask when buying windows.

1. What’s the best way to replace windows: full frame or pocket window installation?

There are two main methods for replacing windows: full-frame installation and pocket installation.

Full-frame window installation completely replaces your previous windows, from the panes to the frames. It’s a popular option for homeowners that want to change the size or shape of their window or want a different window style altogether.

Pocket replacements allow you to keep the original frame, trim, siding and casing intact. This method is best for when you want to replace a worn window with a new window that’s the same size. It may also be advantageous when the exterior material of your home, like brick or stucco, is impacted by the installation of replacement windows.

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. For pocket window installation, your window frame must still be square, level and in good condition. If you need a new frame or want a different size, then a full-frame replacement may be the best option.

Pella installer replacing a large white window

2. Should I replace all windows at once?

There are a number of reasons to replace your windows, but most fall into three main categories: curb appeal, window function and indoor aesthetics. Identifying the main reason driving your need for new windows can help you decide if you should replace your windows all at once or one at a time.

Switching from a dated window to one that catches your eye can increase curb appeal at a relatively low investment. 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.

If function is your main concern, your decision is often easier. Just one window causing you problems? Replace it! But you may also want to make sure the rest of your windows are functioning properly and in good condition.

Sometimes you just need to change up the style inside your home. Upgrading one window in a room can improve its aesthetic. Replacing multiple windows in the same room or throughout your whole home can transform the look and create a consistent style you can enjoy for years to come. 

In the end, it often depends on your budget. Cost is a core concern when deciding whether to replace your windows one at a time, all at once or in phases.

Black frame windows in bedroom

3. What’s the best window style for me?

Insulating glass

Style is everything, and there are several options to choose from. The most common window styles operate in two different ways. They either slide or crank. 

With a sliding operation, one or more panels slide along a track. One panel can also remain fixed while the other panel slides alongside it to open. A crank window opens to the outside of the home with the turn of a handle. Many homes include a bit of both, so it just depends on whether you’d rather push and pull a sash or turn a crank a few times.

There’s more to a window style than how it opens and closes. Sliding windows, double-hung windows, single-hung windows, casement windows and awning windows all have different looks, functions, benefits and details. Your choice of window style will depend on the design of your home and how you weigh these options. It may even change depending on your needs from room to room.

Professional installation of windows by Pella installation crew

4. Do I need professional window installation or can I do it myself?

It’s always tempting to take on a DIY home project to save a few bucks. DIY installation is possible on new windows. But you should only give it a shot if you have 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, energy efficiency and aesthetics.

Sometimes it’s best to leave things to the pros. While it’s a higher cost up front, a good installation crew can save you money down the road from problems related to incorrect installation.

You can find and hire an independent contractor, but be sure to ask all the right questions, check references and read reviews on rating sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Most homeowners go with a simpler option and choose installers who are professionally certified to install a specific brand of window.

To find the best window replacement company, choosing a manufacturer or a manufacturer-certified installer reduces or eliminates your need to vet the contractor since the window manufacturer has already done it. Your new windows are expertly installed to offer peak performance for years to come. The work may even be backed by a warranty like The Pella Guarantee.

Woman reading in chair in front of white floor-to-ceiling windows

5. Do I need windows with Low-E glass?

Quality Low-E glass helps block out UV and IR rays, giving your home a wide range of benefits. Blocking UV light can help reduce the wear and tear on fabrics and other materials in direct sunlight. Blocking IR light can help improve the energy efficiency of your home by controlling the passage of heat in and out of windows.

There are other solutions that can block heat and UV similarly, such as standard thermal films or thermal curtains and blinds. Unlike most of these, Low-E glass doesn’t obstruct the glass and allows plenty of natural light to enter your home so you don’t have to sacrifice sunlight and the beauty outdoors.

The insulation from Low-E glass applies to all forms of heat, not just the incoming IR of the sun. That means it helps trap heat inside your home during winter, keeping you more comfortable in the cold months.

Pella installation team putting in new double window

6. When’s the best time of year to install windows?

Effective window replacement can happen at any time. Although it might take a bit longer in winter, it’s still possible with a bit of planning. 

Warm weather is ideal for replacing multiple windows. It 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.

Pella window installers lay down a sheet for easy clean-up after window replacement

7. How do I prepare my home for window replacement?

Replacement can get a little messy. But don’t worry, the installation crew takes measures to protect your home and clean up the mess — two more advantages of hiring a professional team.

There are a few things you can do get your home ready for the installation crew:

  1. Disconnect any alarm systems from your windows.
  2. Remove window treatments, decorations, wall hangings, shelves and anything else near the work area that could be damaged during installation.
  3. Protect furniture by moving it away from the windows and covering it with sheets and blankets.
  4. Give the crew the clearance to work outside your home by trimming landscaping and removing impediments.
  5. Make space within range of an electrical outlet so the installation team can complete their work.
  6. Keep your kids and pets away from the work area until all work is done and everything is cleaned up.
Pella window installers prep for the easy removal and disposal of old windows

8. What can I do with my old windows?

Out with the old, in with the new. If you hired out the window installation, the crew will clean up the mess — old windows included. They’ll haul the old windows away and dispose of them for you properly. But if you’re doing the install on your own, or just want to reuse your old windows, you have options — as long as your home was built after 1978.

You can recycle them at a deconstruction service, give them away to someone else who could use them, craft them into vintage décor, make a table out of them or turn them into an outdoor decoration.

Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a roadmap to replacement. From choosing replacement windows to disposing of them, the entire process will be much smoother and simpler.

Schedule a free consultation to find windows and doors for your home.