Replacing windows yourself can be a great weekend project, and a great way to save some money. It involves a series of decisions. Although, it might be good to also find some quotes for certified window dealers and installers who may be able to offer assistance if the project gos over your head. The best place to start is with information you need to know when you are looking for the best replacement windows.
Window Investment Decisions
First off, replacing windows will cost less than hiring someone to install them for you. It is important instead then to focus on the first of many decisions: fully new or retrofit? A retrofit window can save even more money, and may be a necessity if your house is more delicate, such as a stucco structure. When replacing windows you oftentimes will have to cut away the old, and fully install the new, which affects the molding, and even the building.
Retrofit windows involve replacing windows, but without also replacing the full casing around them. It is a less structural disruptive method to replacing windows, and is better in older or more delicate structures. It is less expensive, and can be a good option, especially if you are doing the job by yourself.
When you have made a decision about replacing windows it is next time to think about the materials you want. There are vinyl replacement windows, aluminum, wood and composite. Because you are replacing them yourself, wood may be a more affordable option than normal. Wood runs three times more than vinyl, usually. Aluminum is fairly inexpensive, along with vinyl. Composite is wood with a more resilient casing on the framework, to prevent the normal wear and tear that involves so much maintenance.
Wood takes kindly to customization, and is easily made into shapes for almost any architectural space. It is also usually preferred for older or more traditional homes, especially if you want to maintain that look. If you are looking for lightweight, resilient, reliable and low maintenance, vinyl is the best bet. Aluminum is also very lightweight and low maintenance, though conducts heat and cold, while vinyl is neutral (and does not naturally allow air through the material.)
The job of a good window is to deflect heat, sunlight, keep out condensation and keep the elements outside. The Department of Energy ranks the ability of a window by Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (ability to deflect the sun's heat), and U-factor, or ability to insulate. These make up Energy Star ratings for window, and help consumers determine the most energy savings for their climate.
There is also the National Fenestration Council's seal of approval, which indicates a superior product. They further rate the visible transmittance, or ability to block or allow in light, air leakage (how much air comes in through a window joint) and condensation buildup. If you look at all these ratings, and buy according to these guidelines, you will be guaranteed a great product.
In addition to the decision of what material, retrofit or replacement, it is also important to weigh the features of replacing windows. When you last set about replacing your windows, you may only have had to think of a single pane and maybe opting for storm windows to overlay during colder months. Well, these days, almost all windows are double glazed; that is, double pane glass. The advantages of replacing window with new double pane glass are that they offer insulation, naturally, by the vacuum between the panes.
There are many options offered for replacing and old window that further increase the insulation properties of the windows, including low emissivity coatings and argon or krypton gas injected between the panes. These coatings are microscopic metallic oxide coatings between the panes that offer further help the window to work at its peak, to keep you amply comfortable inside your house or office building.
Replacing Windows Saves Money
It is important to note that the Association of Window and Door Installers estimates nearly 90 percent of all window problems comes from shoddy installation. So, when you do do it yourself, be sure that you have some back up installers just in case. There is actually AWDI certification, which is given to both dealers and installers for their expertise in one brand. Master Installers can install or fix any brand, and that is good to keep in mind.
Replacing windows helps you realize savings just from switching to a new product, whether retrofit or new. It is extremely important that you take great care when replacing window parts, so that you help realize optimal window performance. Even the slightest gap or gouge in material can cause years of headaches. So, it is important to not only make sure you have the right materials, but also that you have the right person doing the job.