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Introduction

Is it time to replace your windows? If it is, the good news is that finding beautiful, energy efficient and affordable replacement windows for your home has never been easier. Whether you want to lower your heating and cooling costs or upgrade your home’s appearance, there are many choices available to you. However, with so many choices available, replacing your windows can be an overwhelming and confusing task. Homeowners need to consider things like style and type, cost, return on investment, the best replacement window for their climate and lifestyle and how to find the right contractor.

Luckily, the Team at Windows on Washington are experts at replacing windows and we are here to help you find the best solution for your specific needs. On this page, you will find a comprehensive list of information you need to know when replacing your windows. First things first, let us look at some of the signs that it is time to replace your windows.

  • You have increasing heating and cooling bills.

One reason many homeowners decide to replace their windows is because their current windows are not energy efficient. Major advancements in technology and manufacturing means there are many high quality and energy efficient choices available.

  • Opening and closing your windows has become difficult.

If you are finding your windows hard to open or close, it might be because they have reached their maximum life span. Furthermore, water damage, warping and wood rot can all affect how your window functions. Often these problems are not repairable, which is why replacing your windows is your best option.

  • Your current windows are only single pane.

Single pane windows do not have the same features of newer double and triple pane windows – the most important feature being energy efficiency. Double and triple pane windows are well-insulated and can make a large difference to your energy bills, noise reduction and maintaining your home’s comfort.

  • Your home feels overly noisy or drafty in the winter and too warm in the summer.

The right replacement windows will significantly reduce the amount of outside noise you hear in your home. Furthermore, high energy rated windows will remove drafts and cold spots, while newer window coatings will reduce any sun exposure that may age your furniture and make a room overly warm.

Now that we have established whether or not it is time to replace your windows, let us look into everything else you need to know about window replacements.

 

What’s on this page:

The Benefits of Replacement Windows

Understanding the Different Types of Replacement Windows Frames

Understanding the Different Styles of Replacement Windows

Understanding Replacement Windows Terms

Cost Vs Value of Replacement Windows

Replacing your Windows if You Live in Maryland

Replacing your Windows if You Live in Virginia

How to Find the Right Replacement Windows Contractor

 

The Benefits of Replacement Windows

Before we look at the in-depth details of replacing your windows, let us first look at the benefits of replacing windows. There are a huge variety of benefits that come with replacing your windows, one of them being achieving the aesthetic look you want for your home. Whether you are re-modelling your entire house or just want the look and feel of your windows updated, there are many options available to you. Modern window finishings are extremely versatile and can be adapted to suit any style and taste. Furthermore, window frames come in a large range of colors and finishes.

Another important benefit of replacing your windows is they help to air seal your home. Air leakage is one of the biggest impacting factors when considering the energy efficiency of your home. By replacing your windows, you will help ensure any gaps will not appear between the window and the frame as the seasons go by. This leads to increased energy savings as newer windows slow the loss of energy from windows by as much as 10x.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of replacing your windows is the large return on investment (ROI) you receive. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors revealed that new vinyl windows offer an 80% ROI. That means almost all of your initial outlay for replacing your windows is regained in your increased home value.

Additionally, replacement windows can offer you greater home comfort by eliminating or reducing the noise from outside penetrating inside. Of course, if your home is far from other homes or noisy streets, outside noise might not be a problem. However, for people who live in a bustling community or on a busy street, you would certainly appreciate the sound difference. The feeling of added comfort will also come from the improved security replacement windows offer.

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Understanding the Different Types of Replacement Window Frames

When replacing windows, homeowners have many options to choose from when it comes to window frames. Generally, vinyl window frames are the most popular as they offer the greatest energy efficiency and stylistic choices. A huge benefit of vinyl window frames is they never require painting or re-coating and are very easy to clean. Fiberglass window frames are also a popular choice as they offer the same look and feel of wooden frames without the regular maintenance that natural wood windows need. With that being said, wooden frames are still a well-liked option for window replacements. As you can see, there are so many aesthetic options that allow you to personalize your replacement windows in order to fit the style of your home. Due to the number of options you can choose, it pays to understand the differences between each replacement window so you can make the right choice for you.

Vinyl Replacement Windows

As mentioned before, vinyl windows are the most popular window replacement choice amongst homeowners. Apart from their high energy efficiency and modest price point, vinyl windows come in a variety of colors, grids and hardware options that give homeowners the benefit of being able to customize the look of their home. Vinyl windows are also virtually maintenance free and easy to clean, and never require painting or re-coating.

Fiberglass Replacement Windows

Fiberglass windows have a wide-range of benefits that make them a sound window replacement choice. They are low maintenance and can be structurally superior to metal or vinyl materials. Perhaps the most important feature of fiberglass windows is that they offer an increase in thermal performance (which lowers your energy bills), offer better overall strength and durability and excellent flexibility in design. Fiberglass windows also come in a variety colors that will not scratch, chip or fade.

Wood Replacement Windows

It is true that, in general, wood windows are the most expensive window replacement option. However, you simply cannot beat the beautiful, warm, and organic look and feel of wooden frames. There are many aesthetic options when it comes to wood windows, however, they do come at a considerable cost. Wood also requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep, and is also subject to rot and termites.

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Understanding the Different Styles of Replacement Windows

Now that you understand the different types of replacement windows, you can begin to think about the style you want. Finding the right style for your home is not as simple as it might seem and this is because there are many different window styles and options available, which can be quite overwhelming for many homeowners. The thing to remember is it is not every day you replace your windows, so it is worthwhile to do your homework to make sure your replacement window style best suits your needs. Below are some of the most common replacement window styles available.

Double Hung and Single Hung Windows

Double hung and single hung windows are two of the most common styles of windows. The main difference between the two is how the window sections operate. With single hung windows, the lower sash moves up and down while the upper stash remains still. In double hung windows, both the upper and lower sash can be lowered and raised. Both window styles can be tilted inward, which makes cleaning easy.

Bay and Bow Windows

Bay and bow windows project out of the home, which is not only a stylish option but also adds extra floor space. In terms of looks, bay windows would suit more modern homes while bow windows would look nicer in older homes. Bay windows need to be built on flat windows that are set into an angled frame outside the house, while bow windows rely on custom curved windows that join to create a circular extension in the house. When it comes to price, bay windows are typically more affordable than bow windows.

Picture Windows

Picture windows are generally larger than normal windows and offer an unobstructed view of the outside. If you have a lovely garden, live by the mountains or simply enjoy unobstructed views to the outdoors, the picture window is the perfect choice for you. However, they do not normally open and are not ideal for rooms that need ventilation or an emergency egress.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows are quite similar to glass doors, featuring two sections made from single windows, with one of the sections sliding horizontally over the top of the other section to open or close. Sliding windows are typically used in homes that have short walls as they do not take up much vertical space. They can make the walls of your home look taller while still offering the same ventilation that double or single hung windows provide.

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Understanding Replacement Windows Terms

With all the material choices, manufacturers and stylistic options to choose from comes a whole new language to master. That is why we have listed some of the most common terms you will come across when looking into replacing your windows so you can better understand the options available to you.

100% Virgin Vinyl.

This means zero recycled materials are used in the vinyl. It also means that the windows maintain their color and shape over an extended lifetime.

‘Constant Force’ Balance System.

This is the most widespread system used in the replacement window industry. However, there are several high-end manufacturers that use a revised block and tackle style system as well. Always be cautious of windows that use spiral balances.

Double Strength Glass. 

Double strength glass increases the strength, efficiency and noise cancellation properties of the window. Make sure that each two panes of glass are 1/8-inch-thick.

Fusion Welding.

Fusion welding produces a unified frame/sash and completely removes any weak points or attachment screws.

Interlocking Rails.

These rails run along the full width of the window in order to help lessen air infiltration and increase the overall security of the window.

Lifetime and Transferable Warranty. 

This covers any and all components of the window (frame, sash, and glass) and should always be included with your window purchase. Be wary if it is not.

Low Conductivity Glazing Spacers.

These spacers increase glass and overall window performance. Some common examples include: low intercept, silicone foam, thermo-plastic and EPDM rubber.

Weather Stripping. 

Weather stripping refers to the moving joints of your window that help reduce air infiltration and improve the performance of your window. Be cautious of any redundant weather stripping and extra ‘weather seals’. This usually means a window has been poorly designed and the manufacturer is trying to overcome its performance limitations.

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Cost Vs Value of Replacement Windows

When it comes to replacing your windows, many homeowners try to save money wherever they can. And, while it is not a bad idea to be frugal, cutting corners on installation or choosing a lower quality window is usually not the cheaper option in the long run. In fact, opting for a cheaper option may create ongoing maintenance and replacement costs that would not be necessary had you chosen the higher quality window to begin with. Furthermore, a better quality product could last for years, even if the initial outlay is more expensive. Similarly, energy efficient windows and good quality insulation can reduce your utility bills, also saving money in the long run.

Not all window replacements are equal. Each and every one will vary based on the quality, which is reflected in its overall cost. However, cost alone should not be the only main factor in making your decision. While yes, a window’s price tag is important to consider, you also need to be confident it will last, deliver in performance and suit the needs of your home. Do not feel bad about taking your time and comparing the different products on the market. After all, you want to ensure the window is durable, reliable and most importantly, made of the highest quality.

When considering the cost vs value of replacement windows, what many people tend to overlook is the return on investment (ROI). When replacing your windows, you should not look at the project as a cost, but as an investment worthy of financial outlay. For example, according to Remodeling Magazine Cost vs Value Report 2017, the ROI for vinyl window replacements in the Maryland area is 77.8%. This means when you sell your house, it is likely you will see an increase in the value of almost double the amount you spent on replacing the windows.

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Replacing Your Windows if You Live in Maryland

If you live in the Maryland area, below we have listed some of the best window replacement choices for you. Maryland has a wide array of climates due to local variances in elevation, proximity to water and protection from the colder weather due to downslope winds, so it is important you consider this when choosing your replacement windows.

Vinyl Windows

Vinyl windows are a popular choice for Maryland homeowners due to the fact they are more cost-effective than other window replacement types. While the vinyl extrusions used for the sash and frame are hollow, they are reinforced with internal braces that provide extra strength. Vinyl does not rot or warp and it cannot be damaged by moisture or sun exposure.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass is similar to vinyl yet slightly stronger and will not expand or contract as much due to weather changes. It is, however, more expensive. Fiberglass can be painted and cannot be damaged by mold, moisture or sunlight.

Wood Windows

Wood windows often have their outer surface protected with a thin cladding made from aluminum or vinyl. Wood has a beautiful aesthetic, but it does require ongoing maintenance and can be damaged by moisture and UV exposure. Wood windows are often used in historic houses or if a homeowner wants the look and feel of genuine wood.

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Replacing Your Windows if You Live in Virginia

Due to Virginia’s relatively mild climate, most window replacement options out there will be a good choice for your home. When living in Virginia, your main concern should be the U-Factor of your windows. The U-Factor of windows measures how much heat can escape your home through a window. In Virginia, ENERGY STAR ® requires replacement windows to have a U-Factor rating of 0.30 or less. With that being said, vinyl and fiberglass windows are both excellent choices for Virginia as they are extremely efficient and weather-resistant, which is good for Virginia where thunderstorms and strong winds are not uncommon.

Vinyl Windows

Like Maryland, vinyl windows are a popular choice for homeowners in Virginia due to their high energy efficiency and aesthetic choices. They are also available at a range of price points.

Pros

  • Minimal maintenance
  • Cost-effective
  • Good thermal protection

Cons

  • Cannot be painted a new color once installed
  • Some historical areas do not allow vinyl window replacements
  • Cheaper vinyl windows can be less than robust

Fiberglass Windows

Many Virginia homeowners prefer fiberglass replacement windows due to their wooden look but without the maintenance and price tag of natural wood. It is also more energy efficient than vinyl window replacements.

Pros

  • Can be painted over once installed
  • Good thermal performance
  • Low-maintenance

Cons

  • Is more expensive that other window replacement materials

Composite Windows

Composite windows are a good option for homeowners who like the aesthetic appeal of wood windows but do not want the price tag or maintenance that comes with it. Most composite window replacements are made from PVC resin, which gives them greater energy efficiency. 

Pros

  • Comes in a variety of paintable and stainable indoor wood laminates
  • Low-maintenance

Cons

  • There are many types of composite windows, so some research is required
  • Durability of composite can vary dependent on materials used

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How to Find the Right Replacement Windows Contractor

Once you have settled on the window frame type and replacement window style you are after, the next and possibly most important step is finding a good replacement window contractor. Finding the right contractor can definitely make the whole process of replacing your windows that much simpler and less stressful. However, it is not always that easy to find the perfect window replacement contractor. That is not to say it is impossible – it is entirely possible. You just need to know what you are looking for.

Firstly, you need to know what you need. Many window replacement contractors only specialize in a single type of window. So, if you want a bay window but you hire a contractor who only specializes in picture windows, you might run into a few problems. If you know ahead of time the type of window you are after, you will save yourself a lot of time trying to find the right contractor because you will know who and what you are looking for.

Unfortunately, not all contractors will admit to only specializing in one or two types of windows, which is why getting references is vital. Unless you are looking at contractors that your friends or family have recommended, you should never hire one without asking for a few references. You can start with websites like Angie’s List or Houzz if you want to find information about how contractors have worked on past projects and read reviews from previous customers.

Finally, make sure your contractor is licensed. Before you hire them, it is important you ask to see their license and proof of insurance. Also, once you have their licensing number, you can check to see if there have been any complaints filed against them in the past or present.

 

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8th Consecutive Super Service Award Winner!

Windows on Washington has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2017.

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