As some of the most important features of your home, your windows and doors help regulate your interior airflow, let in much-needed natural light, enhance your home’s curb appeal and improve your overall living experience. Windows and doors are extremely beneficial, so it’s no wonder many homeowners invest a lot of time and money on them.
Unfortunately, windows and doors don’t last forever. Even the most durable and well-maintained units will eventually succumb to wear and tear. When you start seeing signs of deterioration on your windows or doors, then you should definitely consider getting replacements.
Window and door replacement is a straightforward process, but it requires careful planning to pull off successfully. For starters, there are tons of options when it comes to choosing the right replacement windows and doors. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Aside from selecting which window or door types to install, you also need to consider other essentials, such as coming up with a reasonable budget and hiring a trustworthy contractor. To help simplify planning for you, here’s a starter guide that explains the details and features you should consider.
Is It Time for a Window and Door Replacement?
Not sure whether it’s really time for a replacement or whether you can get by with repairs? As your home ages, so does everything inside and outside of it. From your living room’s carpeting to the shingles on your roof, you’ll likely find yourself patching up and replacing a lot of things around your property as time goes by.
Windows and doors are no exception. Much like your roofing system, they are exposed to harsh weather conditions, which take a toll as the years pass. As it can be costly to get new windows and doors, replacement is typically reserved only when necessary. While some choose to repair broken windows and doors, investing in replacements can help ensure more reliable performance and returns in the long run. Plus, a quick fix is no guarantee that your problems are over.
If you notice a few (or all!) of the telltale signs listed below, you should highly consider replacing your existing units:
Signs You Need Window Replacement
Excessive condensation build-up
Visible damage (chipping, huge gaps between frames and walls, water stains around frames, etc.)
Higher energy bills (worn-out windows and doors no longer insulate well)
Interior fading (older windows are not designed to filter out damaging UV rays)
Unappealing appearance (old, faulty windows and doors don’t look good, negatively affecting your home’s curb appeal
Signs You Need Door Replacement
Visible damage affecting door performance and appearance
Poor insulation leading to frequent drafts
Compromised security (a durable exterior door is critical to ensuring home safety)
Energy-Efficient Replacement Windows and Doors: What’s in Store for You?
For units that are beyond repair, window and door replacement offers the best solution. Such a project won’t just give your home an excellent makeover, it’ll also be the perfect opportunity for you take advantage of the recent advances made in window and door design and technology. Given how energy efficiency is now a top priority in home improvement, you won’t want to miss out on the potential rewards a replacement project can bring.
Here are some of the biggest benefits you can get by replacing your old windows and doors with more durable, energy-efficient ones:
With today’s home improvement trends focusing more and more on improving the comfort and energy efficiency of homes, paying attention to the insulating power of your windows and doors is essential. Your framing material plays a significant role in the insulation of your units.
It’s easy to understand why the frame is the most fundamental part of your windows and doors. It supports the entire structure of the unit and gives shape while having a hand in a window or door’s overall insulative ability. It’s only fitting then that you choose a high-quality material that can further reinforce your frame’s function.
There are many materials available to you, including but not limited to:
Wood. A traditional choice, a wood frame adds warmth and elegance, making it a favorite in many homes. Another advantage of a wood frame is its insulating value, offering incredible thermal performance to effectively stunt heat transfer. Unfortunately, wood is prone to moisture damage and expands and contracts when exposed to extreme weather conditions. To keep enjoying great performance from wood windows and doors, you’ll need to be ready for serious upkeep requirements.
Aluminum. This framing material is strong and lightweight, allowing for easy installation and maintenance. Aluminum windows and doors also provide a sleek, clean look that complements modern homes. The downside is they offer subpar insulation because they rapidly conduct heat. You’ll need to pick aluminum frames that have a thermal break to reduce heat transfer.
Vinyl. The cost-effectiveness and versatility of vinyl frames make them a popular choice for replacement windows and doors. They are made of solid, extruded PVC and are available in different colors, designs and finishes. Because vinyl units hold color well, they don’t require constant re-painting. Some of them even have hollow cavities filled with insulating foam for better thermal performance. Unfortunately, vinyl doesn’t last as long as other material because of its tendency to warp when exposed to fluctuating temperatures.
So which of these materials offers the best insulating value? Leading manufacturers have come up with ways to combine all the remarkable qualities of different materials (minus their drawbacks) into one exceptional choice—composite.
Fibrex® for windows and doors is a good example of a composite material, offering wood’s strength and insulating features alongside vinyl’s maintenance-free performance. Fibrex does not crack, chip or corrode and has the ability to retain its shape despite temperature fluctuations, so there’s no risk of warping that could lead to air leakage or structural concerns.
Maximum Energy Efficiency
To make sure you’re choosing a real energy-saving unit, take a look at the glass package. Window and door energy efficiency heavily rely on the type of glass units used, typically sporting multi-pane designs for increased protection against energy loss, low-emissivity (low-E) coatings to filter out heat without impeding natural light, gas fillings for enhanced insulation and weatherproofing for additional protection against moisture.
Low-emissivity, or low-E glass, is a type of energy-efficient glass that helps minimize radiant heat transfer through your windows and doors. This is made possible via a microscopically thin, transparent, metallic oxide layer coating the surface of the glass. By reflecting UV and infrared away from your home, this special coating helps keep passive heating at bay, allowing you to maintain a comfortable living environment without worrying about high energy bills.
Understanding Energy Performance Ratings
One easy way to determine just how energy-efficient your replacement windows and patio doors are is by looking for the ENERGY STAR® and National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) labels on them. These labels show how replacement units fare in terms of:
U-Factor. The measure of how well a unit transmits heat, the lower the U-factor, the better.
Air Leakage. All windows and doors will experience air leakage. However, the lower the air leakage rating, the better, because it means you have tighter seals in place to keep indoor heat in and outdoor heat out.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. Maximizing natural light is great, but the downside is excessive heat gain. Windows and doors with low solar heat gain coefficients address this by blocking the sun’s heat, keeping passive heating at bay to help keep your cooling requirements down.
Visible Transmittance. Indicative of the amount of visible light entering your home, the higher the visible transmittance rating, the better.
Impressive Customization Features
Customization is important when installing replacement windows and patio doors. Through customization, you can you create visual elements that reflect your own taste and personality without sacrificing essential features such as enhanced energy efficiency, improved daylighting and reinforced security.
Here is an overview of some of the window and door customization options you can choose to help improve your home’s beauty and performance in general:
Window and Door Style: Whether you have a traditional home, a contemporary home or any other home style in between, you can find window and door styles that suit your needs. For your doors, French wood and sliding doors have always been a favorite, regardless of the home style. Although French doors are more often found on traditional homes, like Victorian and Colonial homes, they can complement modern homes too due to their natural charm and sophistication.
If you’re looking for more versatile options other than the traditional double-hung, casement or bay and bow windows, why not consider sliding or picture windows? Do you prefer tall, narrow windows instead of the standard ones? There are also specialty windows today that can be made into different shapes and sizes to perfectly cater to your home’s requirements.
Trims and Finishes: You can select different trims and finishes for the interior and exterior of your windows and doors to match your home’s existing design. By doing so, you preserve your home’s architectural character, allowing you to make the most of what new windows and doors can do for your home’s charm and curb appeal.
Grille Patterns: Window and door grilles can either accentuate or completely modify your home’s appearance. Top manufacturers offer a wide range of grille types and patterns to help you find the perfect match for your unique needs.
Hardware: Window and door hardware add another level of customization that homeowners sometimes overlook. In fact, the right choice of hardware can be as visually effective as choosing the right window and door styles or finishes. When choosing hardware for your replacement units, be sure to consider durability on top of their looks. This is because hardware choices are also essential in reinforcing the security features of your new windows and doors.
Planning Window and Door Replacement: What to Keep in Mind
Replacing your old, damaged windows and doors can mean a significant increase in your home’s comfort and energy savings. It can also have a major impact on the overall appearance of your property, and can even increase your home’s value. Before investing in this project, though, you need to understand that it entails time and effort, so proper preparation is key. There are many factors, after all, that go into getting the results you’re looking for.
Here are a few things you need to know to ensure the success of your window and door replacement project:
Know what to expect. While your contractor will be doing the actual work, you, as a homeowner, should still know and understand the basics of window and door installation. Knowing what to expect not only gives you peace of mind but will also give you the opportunity to prepare accordingly, ensuring you and your property are indeed ready for window and door replacement.
Hire a professional and reputable contractor. The quality of your windows is only as good as the quality of the installation, which is why hiring a reputable contractor is essential. If you hire a subpar contractor, expect poorly performing windows and wasted home improvement effort. That’s why it’s extremely vital to take your time in selecting a trusted contractor. You will have many options available to you, which can make the choice overwhelming. To simplify the process, look for the following:
- Proper License and Insurance: First things first, ask about licenses and insurance policies. A license is necessary because it means that a window contractor has met requirements to do business in your state, while insurance coverage is critical because it protects you against liabilities in case an accident occurs during the installation.
- Local Address: Local window and door contractors are familiar with the local climate and environment, allowing them to offer the best options for you. They are also aware of local building codes and can help you secure the necessary permits for your replacement project.
- Significant Experience: When contractors have many years of experience specializing in a specific field, this speaks to the quality of work they perform. If you want the best in window installation, make sure you’re working with a reputable window expert who’s been in the business for at least a decade.
- Highly Skilled Crew: Subcontracting isn’t necessarily bad, but a window installer with its own team has better control over quality, giving you better assurance that your replacement project will go off without a hitch. To get a quick grasp of how their installation team works, check a window contractor’s certifications and awards.
Plan and budget accordingly: Every home improvement project needs to have a budget. The key is to establish your budget before purchasing your materials and try to stick to it as much as possible.
It’s also important to know what you’re paying for. In some cases, going for the cheapest products and materials can backfire. This is why you should do your research beforehand to learn which options are ideal for your budget without sacrificing your comfort and protection.
Lastly, be sure to set aside money for contingencies. Window and door replacements are complex projects, and even the best resources can fail at times. Set aside at least 20% of your original budget for unpleasant surprises to avoid putting your project on hold.
Understand the details of the contract. Your contract is the most important document you’ll secure when investing in window and door replacement. Serving as the written agreement between you and your contractor, it specifies exactly what your project entails, the schedule, the materials involved and the warranty coverage. Before signing a contract, make sure to review all terms and that you understand everything in the document. This includes the window and door style, finish, and glass package, alongside your responsibilities as a customer.
These are just some of the things you need to know to make sure you get the right windows and doors for your home. For the best results, be sure you’re involved in the replacement planning process with your contractor, from start to finish. Communicating properly and evaluating things together can help you avoid any surprises, as well as make sure everyone’s expectations are met. Should you have any questions or concerns about window and door replacement, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a reputable window expert in your area.