Buying replacement windows is a big investment for any homeowner. Whether you’ve just moved into a home you hope to renovate, or you’re spiffing up your long-time family home, replacement windows can go a long way to refresh your home’s exterior while saving you quite a bundle on energy costs. But since you can expect to spend a few hundred dollars per replacement window, it’s important to do the research upfront to determine the best replacement windows for your home. Here are 5 things to look for when buying replacement windows, so you can ensure you get the best windows for your home and the biggest bang for your buck:
01. What Window Style is Right for Your Home?
The first thing to look for when buying replacement windows is what window style is right for your home. The window style your home is currently sporting isn’t necessarily the right option for you. Maybe you’ve moved into an older home that could use a bit of modernizing — big slider or picture windows can go a long way to updating that exterior look. Or, if you’re buying replacement windows for a stately colonial, a traditional casement, double or single hung window might be more fitting.
If you’re new to buying replacement windows and aren’t really sure what window styles are right for your home, be sure to check out our article on the 7 Common Types of Residential Windows. That should help you get a better picture of the window styles available to you.
02. What Window Frame Material Are You Looking For?
The next thing to look for when buying replacement windows is your window frame material. The most popular materials available to homeowners are vinyl, wood, and aluminum, as well as some combination of those three materials, like composite or wood-clad windows.
When deciding on a window frame material, many homeowners wonder whether wood or vinyl is the best option. It’s good to know that vinyl will be the most affordable option available to you. Wood windows are beautiful, excellent insulators, and very customizable, but may cost a bit more than a vinyl window.
The choice of window frame material will ultimately come down to what your priorities are for this window replacement. If you’re looking for something affordable and durable, vinyl will likely be best for you. If you want to add beauty and character to an older, more historic home, a wood-clad or wood window frame can offer the style you’re looking for.
03. How Energy Efficient Would You Like Your Replacement Windows to Be?
A major buyer consideration for replacement windows is energy efficiency. The largest energy efficiency gains will come from what glass option you choose for your replacement windows.
Window technology has come a long way in the last few years. On the market today, you’ll see a massive range of window glass selections ranging from single-pane glass to triple-pane glass filled with a variety of gases that are supposed to up the energy efficiency rating of the window.
How can you make sense of all of these glass options?
For a traditional residential home in a normal climate — somewhere that might experience some harsh temperatures, but not constantly — a treated dual pane glass window with Low-E glazing and filled with argon gas is probably the best option.
These replacement windows might cost around $40 more than a traditional window, but what you spend upfront you’ll recoup over time in energy savings.
The argon gas fills up the space between the panes, creating an additional thermal barrier that helps your home maintain your ideal internal temperature. A Low-E glaze is a treatment manufacturers put on the windowpane that is so thin the human eye can’t see it. This glaze works to reflect the sun’s rays in the summer, keeping your home cool, and draw in warmth in the winter.
If you live in an extreme climate, a triple pane window option may be worth the investment, but for most traditional residential homes, a dual-pane glass option is the best option, weighing energy efficiency and affordability equally.
04. Do You Need Custom or Standard Window Sizes?
Windows come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To offer affordability to customers, most manufacturers build windows in a range of standard sizes. Because manufacturers can build large quantities of standard-sized windows at once, they’re typically more affordable than a custom-sized window.
Before you buy replacement windows, you’ll have to determine if you need standard-sized windows, or if you’ll require a custom window. Measure the height and width of your windows, and then look those numbers up to see if they’re a standard size, or not. You can use this helpful guide to check your window size against the most common standard window sizes.
If you measure your existing windows and find that they don’t match up to any standard sizes, you’ll need custom-sized replacement windows. While these might cost a bit more upfront, they’re a beautiful addition to any home and can add character and charm to your home’s exterior. Just make sure you choose a window brand that can handle your custom window request.
05. Which Window Brand is Best for Your Replacement Windows?
Now that you know exactly what kind of window you need — from frame material and style down to the size and type of glass — choosing the best brand for your replacement windows should be easy.
Just look for a reputable name like Andersen, Marvin, North Star, or MI Windows and Doors, and research their available options to make sure they have the windows you’re looking for. Once you’ve found a brand or two that carry the windows you want, do a bit of a comparison. What does their window warranty look like? Do they have an installation policy, and is there a company near you who can help you get those new replacement windows installed?
If you’ve put time into the first four steps of this process, finding the right brand will be as easy as reading a few reviews, making sure the brand carries the windows you want in the right finishes and calling up your local lumber & supply company to order them.
Whether you’ve decided on the best replacement windows for your home, or you’re still not sure which brand is the best choice for you, Zeeland Lumber & Supply is here to help. We carry all of the top replacement brands on the market, from Andersen to Marvin. Our team of experts is here to help you order your new replacement windows, and our showrooms are open and available to you if you’d like to come in and look at a few options before you make a decision, too.