Your home's windows play a vital role in your comfort as well as curb appeal and energy costs. So when it comes time to replace them, you want to be sure you make the best choice, both with the windows and the company you buy from. While shopping around, you may initially be concerned with price, but there are other equally important things to consider. Here are four questions to ask before replacing your windows.
1) What kind of window should you choose?
Nowadays, most homeowners go with vinyl windows, but there are other options when your getting a window installation done.
Aluminum windows are still around, but they don't insulate very well. A lot of people choose aluminum because they are lightweight, making them a good option for large commercial buildings.
Wood windows are often chosen if the frame is made of wood and you're trying to maintain some consistency. Their main drawback is the fact that they expand and contract with the changing temps, and they aren't resistant to rot from rain and condensation.
Composite windows are made of a mixture of particleboard and wood, and they tend to resist moisture and decay better than their solid-wood counterparts.
Fiberglass windows have cavities within the frames, making them highly energy efficient. But vinyl frames can also be insulated, they don't require painting, and they don't succumb to moisture.
Overall, energy efficient double pane windows are pretty much standard these days. But if it's in your budget, you may discuss the option of a low-E coating and argon or krypton gas between the panes. There are some variations with these features, and what's best for you will largely depend on whether you live in a hot or cold climate.
2) What can you expect with the installation process?
The company you choose to handle your window replacement should let you know how to prepare the for process. The most important thing to consider is giving them easy access to your windows.
First, remove any existing curtains or blinds. You probably don't need to remove the hardware holding the treatments, but ask the contractor to be sure. Next, you'll need to take a look at what you have around the windows, indoors and out. Floor tables, entertainment centers, couches, beds, and desks may need to be moved, depending on the contractor. Outdoor grills, patio sets, lawnmowers, and anything else obstructing the window also need to be considered. Most of the time, these items just need to be moved back a few feet, but you might need to shuffle things around your home temporarily.
Lastly, while the installation techs are putting in your windows, they will probably use drop cloths to keep your belongings safe. It's probably a good idea to ask them what else you can do to make the installation go smoothly.
3) What's included in the price?
The quality of your windows should be matched with a good warranty. So it's important to ask if one is included in the final price. You should also be familiar with the warranty terms. Most warranties won't cover normal wear and tear, damage that comes from misuse, or problems that arise from someone other than the company performing needed repairs, but they all vary.
Some windows come with a lifetime warranty while others cover parts on the window for a certain number of years. Other companies will offer protection related to the installation for a set length of time. And finally, you may want to know if the warranty is transferable should you sell your home.
4) How long will your windows last?
This will likely be one of the first questions you ask, and often you can get some idea with the warranty that comes with the purchase. But if your windows will only last 10 years and require intense maintenance with cleaning and regular painting, you may want to look into an alternative, like vinyl windows that can last up to 40 years and require very little upkeep.