Shopping For Replacement Windows

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When thinking about replacing windows, its important to understand that replacement windows can be manufactured of wood, aluminium, steel, and fibreglass or extruded vinyl. Vinyl tends to be a popular choice for its affordability and thermal efficiency, and is available in a choice of color finishes. Replacement windows can be single hung, double hung, sliding, casement or fixed styles, or can be any combinations of these.

Replacement windows are used to replace broken, worn-out, leaking, rotted or inefficient windows. Windows manufactured up until the 1970s tended to be single-pane glass windows that required the installation of storm window panels in the winter to improve thermal efficiency and screen panels in the summer to keep out bugs. Todays windows don't need separate storms and screens, because most are manufactured with double or triple glass, and the screens are integrated into the window itself.

The original windows in your home are probably builders windows, the styling and sizes that were popular when your home was built. As windows age, they don't open properly, or stay open at all. They also leak heat or cooling air out of your home, making them too expensive not to replace. New windows can look like your old windows, or you can choose a new style for an updated look.

A large inefficient picture window can be fit with a group of smaller windows set in a bow or bay frame. Replacement windows can be as small as basement vent windows, or large enough to make a sunroom. If you have unusually shaped windows in your home, such as arches, triangles or octagons, replacements can be manufactured for those, too.

The best replacement windows are those which have the highest energy-efficiency. Certain materials, such as aluminium and steel tend to draw cold into the home by the materials themselves. Wood is a good insulator, but tends to require upkeep such as painting and caulking. Vinyl replacement windows are by far the most popular, not only because they are less expensive than wood, they are also low maintenance and energy efficient.

What makes for a good replacement window is a combination of factors. First is appearance. Second is thermal efficiency of the window components such as the sash and rails. Third is the insulation used to seal moving parts so the window doesn't allow drafts or leak. Fourth is the glass used, whether its single, double, or triple glass, has inner membranes, is gas-filled, or has a coating to resist heat loss or protect furnishings from sunlight fading. Finally, the most important factor tends to be price, and the part it plays in choosing a window with the other options.

Replacement window pricing reflects a variety of considerations. The materials used to make the window, the number of windowpanes, and the size of the window must be considered. Then there are the materials to install and weatherproof the installation, grids, if any, and upgrades in window hardware. Add special prices for insulating gasses, or coatings to reduce furniture fading. Don't forget labour to remove and install the new windows is considered in the price.

Martin Troughton is an expert in the home improvement industry. If you want more information about replacement windows or saving energy please visit

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