Review Background, History and Online Reviews
Make sure you're dealing with a well-established and reputable window company. Ask the following questions:
The answer to these simple questions may surprise you as many companies don't make or install the windows they sell. Ask for references, check out their online reviews and ultimately find a company and a brand you can trust. Learn more about how to search for replacement windows online as well as other important factors to look for during the initial process.
- Do your research
- Ask questions about manufacturing and installation
Don't be Fooled by Those $189 Window Prices
In today's market there are several window companies touting a sweet price of $189 or less per window. Be careful when choosing these companies.
The $189 price is misleading because it often represents a smaller-than-average window size or a lesser quality product. Many times the price only covers a partial window installation, not the complete job.
By the time you are charged for everything needed to get a complete window installation for your actual size window and options to meet your needs, the real cost is several times the price advertised!
When it comes to buying quality windows, you get what you pay for. Windows are an investment in your home and if you want a product that is going to look great, perform and last, expect to pay a little more. Learn more about what goes into the price of a window and what you should expect the cost to be.
Builder / Construction Grade Windows $$+
Stanek® Premium Quality Windows $$$+
Ultra Premium Architectural Windows $$$$+
- Window prices of $189 can be misleading
- You get what you pay for
Consider Room Function and Location
Most window companies offer a variety of window styles to meet your individual needs and express the uniqueness of your home. These styles may include double-hung, bow, bay, sliding, awning, casement and custom shape windows. Visit a showroom and see for yourself which styles are best suited for your home.
Considerations should be given to obstacles in your room and the outdoor space they open up into. For example, a double-hung window over a kitchen sink may be more difficult to operate than a casement window, which simply cranks open.
Whether you need windows for new construction or as a replacement, keep in mind that there are only a few companies that offer custom designs and shapes to fit your unique needs. Ask about color options and hardware finishes, as this is another important consideration for your window style. Some companies offer a very finite number of options while others offer limitless combinations to create the window perfect for your home.
- Consider function when choosing a window style
- Ask about customizable options
Wood, Aluminum or Vinyl
If you're replacing old windows, now may be a good time to look at different material options. Wood, although beautiful, is prone to swelling and rotting, and requires regular maintenance to maintain its appeal. Clad windows may just mask problems.
Aluminum will oxidize, and is either hot or cold to the touch depending on the season and oftentimes leads to condensation problems.
Premium vinyl windows are a great choice, if they are fusion welded and made with reinforced uPVC. Unplasticized PVC, or uPVC, is eight times more impact resistant than plasticized PVC and has one-eighth of the expansion and contraction potential. When you compare the look and feel of quality uPVC vinyl to plasticized vinyl, you can see and feel the difference.
Vinyl also comes in a variety of colors to complement your home. If you like the look of wood but not its upkeep, consider a woodgrain vinyl option. Woodgrain offers the look of real thing without the maintenance headaches.
Window Frame & Sash – Custom Made & Reinforced
Your replacement windows should be custom made to fit your openings precisely, without the use of expansion pieces or fillers. The openings should not need to be altered unless you plan to change the style or size of the window.
Window frames and sashes should be reinforced. If windows are not fully reinforced, the sashes will sag and warp over time, resulting in leaky windows that don't lock properly. The sash is the part of the window that holds the glass in place and is surrounded by the frame. Sashes must be multi-chambered, fusion welded, and reinforced on all four sides with a material that does not conduct heat or cold. Learn more about window sashes and why they are important for your windows long-term performance. Beware of foam-filled windows! The foam fill does not add any structural support and offers very little in the way of insulation value.
Casement and awning windows should also have fully reinforced frames. A full four-sided reinforcement will ensure your windows won't distort over time. Again, look for multi-chambered, fusion-welded designs, which increase strength and thermal efficiency.
- Make sure the windows are made to fit your openings
- Ask about full structural reinforcement for strength and stability
Insulation and Design Pressure Values
Generally speaking, the more energy efficient and sturdy the window, the higher the cost due to the materials and technology needed to manufacture the window. However, the energy costs you will save throughout the life of your energy-efficient windows will offset the initial cost of the windows many times over.
The U-value/factor is now the industry standard by which an entire window or door unit is rated. U-value rates how much heat is lost. The lower the number, the more energy efficient the windows are.
Solar heat gain or SHG refers to the increase in temperature in a space as a result of solar radiation. Windows with a low solar heat gain value offer increased energy efficiency and will keep your home cooler in the summer.
Design Pressure or DP is an important value as it rates a window against wind and water loads. The higher the number, the stronger the window is. If you live in an area that is prone to high winds and heavy rain, this rating is key.
Labels from the National Fenestration Rating Council® and ENERGY STAR® show that a window has met important performance requirements. These certifications are important and intended to provide unbiased facts that homeowners can use to evaluate different window products.
When shopping for windows, don't accept a verbal promise that a company's windows are certified. Ask to see a copy or documentation of the certification and make sure each window you are planning on purchasing has a certification label affixed to it. Unfortunately, some companies will test a modified window for a "high performance" label, but unless the window you purchase has the certification label attached to it, it isn't certified and may not be the same window that was represented during the sale.
- Ask to see certification documentation
- Make sure your windows are labeled
Who Installs The Windows?
Most homeowners spend hours researching replacement windows, but leave out one crucial consideration – the installation.
The window installer is just as important as the window manufacturer and in many cases they are different. If a window isn't installed correctly, it will perform poorly and problems may not be covered under warranty. Most window companies don't cover problems they feel are caused by installation. The implications can be drastic.
Be cautious. Some window companies do not install their own windows and hire other companies or contractors for this work. Your windows won't deliver the aesthetic or comfort you expected if they're installed incorrectly.
- Ask who installs the windows
- Make sure the installation is covered in the warranty
Get it in Writing
A warranty is only as good as the product on which it is placed, and only as good as the company providing it.
Insist on reading a copy of the warranty. Make sure the window installation is covered. Accept no verbal promises! If you don't have it in writing, then you probably won't have a guaranteed warranty.
Find out who will service the product if there is a warranty claim – the manufacturer, the installer or the dealer, if they happen to be different. If the warranty is a manufacturer's warranty and the company you purchased windows from is not the manufacturer, find out what the process is to schedule service if an issue arises.
- Ask about the warranty
- Find out what is covered
Demand More Than a Brochure
Believe it or not, some companies will try to sell you windows from just a brochure. Beware of these companies! Insist that you see full, working window samples so you can examine the window completely before it is installed in your home.
Open and close the sample and test the locks. Think about it, you'll be opening and closing your windows just about every day for as long as you own your home. Make sure you like the way the windows look and operate before you buy them.
Remember, new windows should be a one-time investment for your home.
- Ask to see actual window samples, not just a pretty picture
- Test the sample: open and close, test the locks, etc.