As human beings, we are hardwired to enjoy the sunlight. It’s actually in our DNA to crave the warmth and light from the sun. Windows make this possible whether we are at home or at work.
Because windows serve a massively important role in our lives, choosing a window for our home becomes a significant decision.
Not only are they a large investment and a focal point of the design, but they are key to bringing light, air, comfort, and warmth to our space.
Why Are Windows Used in a House?
Pull back the curtains, and the value of windows is instantly realized. In fact, natural light is key in improving both physical and mental health and well-being.
In 1984, a study showed that natural light from a large window was so important it actually helped hospital patients heal faster than those left in enclosed rooms.
More modern studies show that natural light slows neuron response to pain. A window can actually bind our wounds and heal our pain. Clearly, this is an essential part of your home that should be chosen and placed intentionally.
Types of Window Styles
There are dozens of window styles to choose from, but the following six styles are the most popular and commonly used for residential homes today.
- Single-Hung: This window type has been used for generations. They open vertically from the bottom while the upper sash remains stationary.
- Double-Hung: This window opens from both the top and the bottom and is quickly becoming the most popular choice of homeowners.
- Sliding: A sliding window is basically a horizontal single-hung window. It opens from one side sliding over the top of the other.
- Casement: This type of window swings either out to the side or up to open. Each side of the window can open and close independently.
- Bay: A bay window is a flat set into an angled frame built out of the home. Typically, a bay window consists of a center window and two side windows.
- Bow: Similar to a bay window, a bow window is custom curved, rather than simply angled. They create a beautiful circular area along the outside of the home.
These six window styles are the most common, but there is a dozen more when choosing the function and style for your home.
Check out all 18 styles of residential window types here.
Types of Frames
A window frame is what holds the glass in place and keeps the window themselves firmly inside the wall of a building.
There are four basic materials used to manufacture quality window frames.
- Wood: Wood brings a beautiful, warm, and classic appearance.
- Vinyl: Vinyl is the main player on the window frame market today. It is made of UV-resistant PVC and is both durable and affordable.
- Aluminum: Aluminum provides both a slim profile and excellent durability while staying affordable for large projects.
- Fiberglass: This is an extremely strong material that requires very little maintenance but is often more expensive than other window frame types.
Window frames are an essential piece of both your window and your overall structure.
Learn more about window frame material and installation here.
Types of Window Glass
There are several different types of window glass. Each fulfills a unique purpose for your window. While almost all glass will let in some light, each type of glass is specifically designed for different applications in the home.
- Tinted Glass: A tinted glass window allows less heat and light to be transmitted into the room and increases privacy. Tinted glass also saves energy by keeping your space cool.
- Tempered Glass: Tempered glass is an extra-strong glass that is known for durability. Typically, tempered glass is four times stronger than normal glass and heat resistant, making it one of the most popular for home and furniture applications.
- Toughened Glass: Toughened glass is a member of the tempered glass family. It is known for being extremely clear with very low visibility and is often used as a protective layer.
- Stained Glass: Stained glass creates a beautiful focal piece by combining glass and art. It also provides increased privacy because of its intricate patterns and colors.
- Laminated Glass: This is several panes of glass sealed together with a clear, durable laminate layer in between. Laminated glass is also known as safety glass because it will remain in the frame, even when broken.
Types of Windowpanes
A windowpane is another name for the individual panels of glass within your window. There are three different types of windowpanes in most residential housing today.
- Single-pane: A single pane window is simply one piece of glass in the window frame.
- Double-pane: This is two glass panes separated by a gas. This is the most common type of residential window.
- Triple-pane: This is three glass panes separated by gas in between each pane. These are used for homes in colder climates.
A double-pane and triple-pane window typically use Argon gas as filler, which is colorless, odorless, and completely non-toxic. It is essential for keeping an even temperature across the windowpanes. More panes mean more insulation for your home.
Important Parts of a Window
The lingo for parts of a window can be helpful in working with manufacturers and installers to find the windows you need for your home.
- Glass/Glazing: The glass panes make up 70 percent of the window. The type of glass or glazing you choose often determines the durability and energy efficiency of your window.
- Sash: The sash is the area inside the window frame. It holds the panes and frame around the glass. Within the sash, you have additional parts like the stiles, rails, and grids.
- Rails: Rails are the horizontal parts of the window sash. They are located at the top and bottom of the frame.
- Frame: This is the outermost area of the window that keeps the entire structure stable.
- Casement: The casement is the decorative molding around a window that covers the frame at the wall.
Sign You Need to Repair Your Window
Over time our windows can be exposed to the elements and suffer general wear and tear. These items are often things that can be repaired or replaced without installing a new window.
- Rotten Window Frame: Discoloration, crumbling wood, or soft spots are common signs of a rotting window frame. If not treated, rot can move from the window frame and travel throughout your home.
- Rotting Drip Cap: The drip cap is responsible to stop moisture from seeping into your house. If it is damaged or rotting, it leaves your entire window susceptible to damage.
- Paint Peeling from Window: Chipping and peeling paint not only makes your home look run-down but also increases the risk of wood rot. You will need to sand and re-paint regularly.
- Worn Caulking: Repairing the caulking seals gaps and prevents drafts, bugs, and humidity from sneaking into your home.
- Water Leakage Through the Window: Any moisture allowed inside the home is a breeding ground for mold, cracks, and if left untreated can lead to structural issues.
- Foggy Window: This is usually a sign of unsealed windows, which also means your HVAC system is working overtime.
- Difficulty Opening and Closing the Window: Difficulty opening, and closing is also a sign of additional damage such as warping, gaps, or cracks.
- Visible Insects and Bugs in the House: A compromised window frame or screen can quickly let bugs and insects in your home.
- Crack Window: Any visible cracks in your window glass or frame are a clear sign that air and moisture are being let in and the window should be repaired or replaced.
Signs You Need a Replacement
Perhaps your windows have been obviously damaged, or maybe the wear and tear are more subtle. Whether your windows aren’t functioning as they should, or they just no longer fit the style of your home – here are some signs to look for when a replacement window is needed.
- Outside Sound Audible: New window is insulated against outside noise. If you can hear more of what is going on outside, it may be a sign that your windows should be replaced.
- You Can Feel a Breeze: Do you feel a breeze from your window when they’re closed? If so, it could be due to poor installation or faulty seals. This can drastically change the overall temperature of your home.
- Window Frames Are Rotten and Damaged: Over time, unprotected wooden window frames can be compromised by rot. Any window frames that are rotten and damaged should be replaced before the rot travels into other areas of the home.
- High Energy Bills: Energy efficient windows reduce wear on your furnace and air conditioner, helping you to save money every month.
- Decaying Frames: Signs of cracking, warping, or other decay in the window frame should be replaced as soon as possible to protect the integrity of the window.
- Leaky Window: If you notice an increase in your utility bills it may be because your windows are leaking air. Replacing your window can save between 30 and 50 percent on your energy bills each month.
Benefits Of New Windows
Windows themselves aren’t much to look at, but the benefits of new windows go much deeper than eye level. A new window can save up to 30 percent on your heating and cooling bill and can provide numerous benefits for your home and family.
- Easy To Maintain: A new window requires very little maintenance and is easier to clean with innovative tilt-in features.
- Better Soundproof: Today’s window insulates significantly better than old windows, minimizing drafts, temperature fluctuations, and noise.
- Increase Your Home Value: Many homeowners will receive up to 80 percent return on investment. A new window also provides a faster and more lucrative sale.
- Improve Home Security and Safety: Windows that are difficult to open can be a serious safety hazard if you need to escape the home quickly. A loose window that doesn’t lock can also be equally dangerous. A new window provides the best of both worlds and keeps your family safe.
- Reduced Dust and Allergens: A new window can reduce allergens in the home and reduce the collection of dust.
- Improved Home Comfort: A new window makes your living environment consistently comfortable and lowers your energy costs.
- Reduce Energy Bills: Energy-efficient windows reduce the usage of your furnace and air conditioner, helping you to save money every month.
- UV Protection: Natural light is beautiful, but excessive UV rays can cause fading on your indoor furniture, carpet, artwork, and paint. A new window with added protection from UV rays acts like sunscreen for your home.
- Keep Out Moisture: A new window ensures all moisture is being kept out of your home throughout the year.
We always recommend using a qualified contractor to install your new windows. Although it seems simple, the process for window installation is detailed and meticulous.
A simple mismeasurement or misstep could either damage your home or render your new window.
Step 1- Find Experienced Window Installers
- If you’re replacing your existing window but are wanting to make changes to the style or size of your window – that is important to know before your job gets started. If you’re designing a new home, decide what type of windows you’d like to use and if you want any specialty window like a bow or garden window.
- Always check for workers’ compensation and liability insurance to prevent costly damage during your project.
- Be sure to ask your contractor about how the process works and what to expect.
- You don’t even have to go with the initial estimate, shop around and always read the fine print if something seems too good to be true.
Step 2 – Measure Your Window for Replacement
- Inspect each window, looking for details in the casings or frames that may affect the new replacement.
- Measure the width at the top, bottom, and middle. Measure the height at either side and the center.
- Use the smallest dimensions for ordering and adjust for fitting
- Order your windows and be prepared to wait for a couple of weeks (sometimes longer) for delivery.
Step 3 – Removing an Old Window
- If you have a storm window, your contractor will remove those first.
- Mark the window frame and remove it with a putty knife or pry bar.
- Most windows have a weather-resistant barrier that keeps moisture out, this barrier must be cut and removed.
- If your window has sash weights or springs, those will be removed next.
- Locate and score the stops that are often present in older wooden windows.
- After all the stops are removed, the top sash and lower sash are removed.
- Any sealant used to keep the old window in place must be removed using a cutting knife or powerful cleaning products.
- Lastly, it’s important to recycle old pieces and trash any material.
Step 4 – Trimming and Weatherproofing the Exterior
- The first step to the new window installation is to install flashing from the bottom up.
- Next, seal the weather-resistant flashing and prepare the space for the window.
- Insulate around the window unit using spray foam or fiberglass insulation.
- Install exterior trim with nails and caulk to create a clean look.
Step 5 – Final Installation
- Clean the window opening to ensure all debris is removed and provide a clean surface.
- Install flashing tape to prevent moisture from penetrating the inside of the opening.
- Inspect the windowsill to ensure it is level and doesn’t have any bowing.
- Test the window before sealing to ensure it is the right size.
- Install the window with caulk around the bottom and top and drill into the frame to secure it in place.
- Check the work to ensure everything is level and lines up properly.
- Secure the window with screws or nails, add additional flashing if necessary.
Cost of a New Window
The total average cost for an entire home of windows is anywhere from $3,000 to $13,000. There is a huge range in windows because of all the factors that go into pricing.
First, the average replacement window costs $150 to $750 for just the window alone. Labor costs vary by geographic area but can average another $100 to $250. The rest of the cost estimate is determined by the following factors:
- Brand: As with any other appliance, furniture, or electronics – window brands carry some weight and with them, an additional price. If you choose a name-brand window you will pay more for them.
- Quality: More reliable products go through rigorous testing and may cost more than other windows of lesser quality.
- Material: The cost of the raw materials used in manufacturing play a large role in the final cost of your window. Aluminum is the cheapest material, while wood is typically the most expensive.
- Dimensions: A larger window costs more than smaller ones because they simply use more glass and framing materials.
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Home Replacement Windows
- Not asking enough questions. Be sure you understand how your replacement window will be installed, how long it will take, and what the process looks like.
- Not focusing on style and type. Most homeowners miss out on a huge opportunity by simply re-ordering the exact same styles and type of window they already have.
- Choosing a window-based solely on price. You will only replace your windows one or two times throughout your life. Stay within your budget but weigh the long-term benefits carefully before choosing the cheapest option.
- Ignoring security and functionality. Make sure the window you choose is the best option for your area and keep your family safe.
- Not preparing for maintenance. Different windows require different levels of maintenance. What looks beautiful in the showroom might take extensive work to keep looking beautiful. Think about the long-term costs of maintenance when choosing your window material.
- Replacing it yourself. Window installation is a meticulous process, it is not just fitting a frame into the hole in the wall. We always recommend using a window contractor.
- Overlooking your home’s design. A beautiful showroom window might not look the same in your home. Make sure your new window matches your current home style.
- Not considering your climate. Not all window materials perform the same in different climates. Discuss with a certified contractor what materials work best in your area.
- Not getting educated. Make sure to do your homework so you don’t end up making a purchase that doesn’t meet your needs.
- Not hiring the right contractor. Take your time in finding a contractor who will answer your questions, provide clarity, and is someone you can trust.
FAQs About Windows