As a homeowner, you are faced with numerous
challenges regarding the care, maintenance, and upkeep of your property. One of
the trickiest aspects of home maintenance for homeowners is upgrades and
repairs—for example, the installation of replacement windows for old, deteriorating, and
low-performance window products. As one of the most popular home improvement
projects performed in homes throughout the country every year, window
replacement is an important remodeling project that can dramatically improve the
overall value of your home.
Unlike other renovation projects, replacement window installation is not as easily understood by homeowners due to the recent advances within the industry and the myriad options available. It can be intimidating for the average homeowner to attempt a window replacement project considering the high cost of windows, and the seemingly endless products, styles, and brands to choose from.
At Southwest Exteriors, we’re excited to provide the information you need to window replacement for homeowners. If you’re planning a home improvement project and looking into replacing your home’s deteriorating windows, take a look at this guide to learn everything you need to know before you get started.
Signs you Need Replacement Windows
Similar to other areas of the home, some of the signs that window replacement is necessary are quite obvious. Some of these signs include broken glass, rotted frames, or sticky window sashes that won’t move easily. However, there are more subtle signs that your windows need replacement to keep an eye out for. Here are some of those signs:
- Increased bills: Your windows serve as a form of insulation and are responsible for keeping the inside air inside while the outside air remains outside. When this is compromised, it’s easily noticed by higher than normal energy bills.
- Drafts: Maybe the energy bill hasn’t come yet, but you can still determine the need for replacement windows by checking for drafts. If the window is shut and the air is still passing through, then you either have cracked glass, cracked frame, or a compromised seal. Regardless of the cause, it could be that your window is compromised beyond repair.
- Chipped Appearance: Everything physical requires a touch-up from time to time. This includes paint and the overall exterior of the house. However, paint that peels or bubbles is indicative of trapped condensation at best and mold at worst. Pushing a hard tool into the window frame easily tests this. If the tool sinks, then you need replacement windows.
- Hard to Use: The precursor to a window that just won’t function. When the window is a struggle to open or close, you can bet that window installation is in your future. Windows don’t struggle unless the frame is warped or other mechanical issues arise that can no longer able to be repaired.
- Busted Repairs: Replacement is a costly endeavor and is not always needed. That’s why repairs exist in the first place. However, repair only goes so far. If your repairs are no longer holding up, then it’s time to work with window contractors to get new ones.
Your windows are not meant to last forever. Consider having window contractors come out to perform an inspection if you are not the original owner or your home is more than 20 years old. If there is no record of replacement windows being installed, then chances are your home is due for installation.
What are the Most Common Types of Windows?
Quality and craftsmanship play a large role in the windows you choose. The main job of windows is to be functional and actually work as needed. That being said, aesthetics come into play as well. Whether it’s to reflect your personal style or enhance your home’s resale value, you need windows that are attractive.
To help you learn more about the different window models available, take a look at some of the most common window styles, panes, and frames sold in the USA.
- Double Hung: If you’re not fussy about style then double hung is your best choice. They are practical and functional while still looking like they fit in with your home.
- Picture: Have high ceilings? Got a backyard that looks like a magazine photo? Consider this style if you want windows that don’t open, but instead frame your view for your viewing pleasure.
- Hopper: A variation of the original casement window. This version is placed horizontally and opens inwards from the top.
- Casement: The first of its kind. This one is installed vertically and can open inwards or outwards thanks to its design.
- Awning: Pretty much identical to the hopper. However, if you prefer your windows to open outwards, then the awning window is the better style choice for your needs.
- Bay/Bow: These two styles offer an outward facing frame. They are nearly identical and are perfect for adding space to the room itself. However, the bay version is hexagonal in shape, while the bow much like its namesake is curved like a bow. It comes down to personal preference between these two.
- Storm: When it comes to extreme weather changes or areas known for its storms, you need a little extra. That little extra is known as a storm window. These are more durable thanks to the extra barrier between its sheets.
- Egress: Stylish, yet built for safety. This design is noted for its ability to serve as an escape or access point depending on the emergency being faced. These are usually installed in the basement.
- Sliding: Available as a two-panel or three-panel variation, this style is noted for its ability to provide ventilation. The three-panel option is best for those with a wider window frame.
- Energy Efficient Windows: Considered more of an upgrade to an upgrade. These are specifically built with energy efficiency in mind. Going green and having lower energy bills is the focus on energy efficient windows.
- Double: Nearly all windows are at least double pane and are therefore the most common windowpane option. Solid insulation and protection are possible with this option, which is much more effective and offers higher value than single-pane windows.
- Triple: Recent advancements have led to the triple pane window becoming more affordable and available, making it increasingly popular. Its protective benefits outshine the double pane version.
- Quadruple: The definitive option for those who desire the best in energy efficiency and insulation. It’s the most expensive option and requires a reinforced frame due to the extra weight that four panes bring.
- Wood: This frame type has been around the longest and is known for its use throughout the architectural industry. In addition to providing style, it is known for its durability and availability, making it a popular and accessible option.
- Vinyl: Extra durability is the main feature with a vinyl frame. In addition, it is an affordable option compared to some other options. Unlike wood, it cannot rot or warp due to being made of PVC.
- Aluminum: Frames that last naturally should be made of metal. Due to its popularity, it is a pretty accessible option considering how long it will last.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass is growing in popularity, mostly because of the affordable price tag, outstanding durability, and low maintenance requirements. Priced somewhere between vinyl and wood, fiberglass lasts longer than vinyl and can be painted to look exactly like real wood or other styles. Fiberglass will fade, however, and will need to be repainted eventually.
Window Installation Process
It’s important to understand the types available for purchase, but it is even more important to understand what goes on during the professional window installation process. When performed by true experts and professional contractors, the replacement experience is relatively stress-free and simple. In addition, you get to take comfort in the fact that the replacement windows are installed correctly the first time, and are likely covered by excellent labor and product guarantees.
The easiest way to understand the process is to actually be there during the job. Where possible, it is important that you’re available in case the window contractors have questions or concerns come up. Plus, having people you don’t know in and out of your house is an invasive process, so it makes sense to be around.
To help you with your own project, we have a cheat sheet below for your review:
Before Your Crew Arrives
- Confirm the details with the lead contractor, i.e. schedule, number of windows, etc.
- If you have special instructions, then make sure they’re communicated before work begins.
- Clear away the obstacles both inside and outside the home so the crew can work.
- Clean the window and frame to ensure that adhesive materials like caulk will actually work.
- Get plastic, sheets, drop cloths, and other protective materials for your furniture and home.
- Relocate the furniture to a location out of the way before the crew arrives.
- Double check for anything you may have missed, i.e. security alarms or pets.
When the Crew Arrives
Before even one window is unloaded, take the time to meet with the foreman to go over the entirety of what’s being replaced. Some rooms may present additional challenges that need to be addressed, but more importantly, this is the time to establish the timeline of which room will be addressed first. This will help you determine where you should be so that you’re available yet out of the way of the workers. Make sure everything is prepped during this period so that delays do not occur.
After the initial meeting and walk-through, you can expect the crew to get to work. This part of the process is the easiest one for you since all you have to do is let the crew do what they do best. They will be removing the old windows while bringing in the new ones at this time. Actual window replacement is likely to begin in the middle of the day for most projects.
When the day ends, be sure to take the time to see to it that any windows started are finished. Don’t allow your window space to be boarded up. Unless there’s a good reason for not having been able to finish the window in time, such as structural problems that were not expected before installation, weather challenges, or other factors, ask them to stay until the job is finished to avoid a security risk. Keep in mind this is your home, so a professional crew should already be making sure that all tools are picked up and collected, and the rooms are thoroughly swept.
Finishing Up the Job
Except for the smaller projects, it is usually expected that the entire replacement job will take at least a day or two for the window installation process to be completed. If you’re replacing many windows, this will vary—so ask your contractor how long it should take to get an idea of the length of the project before you get started.
On day two, every new window should already be brought in and set down in the appropriate rooms. The first half of the day should be nothing more than an ongoing installation. During the second half, the sealing process should be in full swing. This is the step that ensures air doesn’t pass through, and the insulation is secure.
If you have gone for upgraded windows or additional services, the timeline of the project may be extended to a third day or more. Also, if you have a large number of windows getting replaced, then it’s reasonable to expect a minimum of three days for your project.
As long as you walk through the timeline with the foreman, you will never feel like the project takes longer than it needs to for completion. In addition, you will be aware of any factors that contribute to any delays that occur.
Replacement Window Pricing: Evaluating the Cost of New Windows
You’re probably hoping that this section will reveal our secret, industry-standard magic formula that automatically generates the total cost of your upcoming window project. Unfortunately, without the specifics of your project at hand, it’s impossible to give an accurate estimate for window replacement in your home.
However, here, you will understand the factors that make up your cost so you can easily determine a reasonable range based on the choices you make.
- Window Style: Different styles have different price points. Some are very basic, while others may require all new construction. Consider your needs when determining what style of window you choose.
- Window Frames: Wood, aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass are all different materials. Each material is priced differently, and vinyl windows are usually the cheapest options. In addition, the frames may be thick, or they may be thin, which furthers influences the price. Regardless of price, it’s important to ensure the frame matches the style you pick.
- Panels: The more panes of glass you choose, the higher the cost will be. Needless to say, single-pane window options will always be the cheapest, but won’t offer nearly the same value as double, triple, or quadruple pane windows.
Features: Want completely soundproof windows,
or ultra, triple-glazed, low-E windows that fight UV rays for ultimate sun
protection? These extras and others will add to the cost of your window
replacement project. You can mitigate the impact by only getting the
extras needed to accommodate your needs and wants.
Keep in mind that extras like these can raise the value of your home significantly, so keep that in mind when choosing how to invest in your new windows.
- Labor Costs: All contractors will charge for labor unless you’re a contractor installing your own windows—which in this case, you’ll be spending nothing more than your own time. Your key to making this section affordable is to work with a crew that is experienced with a guaranteed process, for predictable and satisfactory results.
Benefits to Replacement Windows
Replacement windows offer one universal benefit, which is improved functionality and security for your home. A new window will always perform better than an old one. However, depending on your choices, there are potential additional benefits you may enjoy with your replacement windows.
- Energy efficiency
- UV protection
- Low Maintenance
- Improved Curb Appeal
- Better Home Value
- Improved Durability
Whether it’s a vinyl window or energy efficient window, you can be sure that there are a number of benefits for homeowners. However, the key is to make sure they are benefits you will care about when making your decision.
Choosing Professional Installation vs. DIY Window Replacement
Whether you consider yourself fairly handy around the house or religiously rely on professional contractors for your home improvement endeavors, DIY window replacement is not typically recommended in most cases. While there are exceptions, typically when a window replacement is a small, simple window on a ground floor and you’ve done it before, or if you’re a professional contractor yourself. For most people, however, it’s best to rely on an expert that is equipped with the necessary tools, expertise, and experience to correctly install windows in a timely and guaranteed manner.
You can buy the absolute best windows ever made, and they won’t be worth the materials they’re made out of if not installed correctly. The tiniest mistake means that your windows aren’t sealed and will not function like they are meant to. That’s why you need a professional team of window contractors. However, make sure to shop around for the best price combined with the best service and results to get the right ones for your project.
Window Replacement Throughout the Year: When to Install Your New Windows
Replacement windows can be needed at any time of the year. While warm, spring or summer days are typically regarded as the best times for window replacement, there are pros and cons to this project at any time of the year. The good news is that there are ways to make window installation work, no matter the season. Here are some of our favorite tips for planning your window replacement project according to the seasons.
In the spring, the hours of daylight increase, and the temperature increases. This leads to a nearly ideal time of year for window installation. The problem is that storms and rain can be frequent, which can delay your project more. Another issue is that the popularity of the spring for home renovations can make this season difficult to find a contractor with the availability you need or the days you want for your installation. It’s suggested to plan far in advance for best results (and prime scheduling priority).
May to the first week or so of September are the prime days for home improvement projects, for a multitude of reasons. The days are long, warm, and sunny nearly every day, if not every day. However, watch out for heat waves and insects. The other concern is the scheduling rush. As with the spring, it’s suggested to make your appointment for new window installations far in advance to get the best dates possible.
Fall is another popular season for home improvement. The days are shorter and colder because winter is coming, which can be quite refreshing after the long, hot summer days are over. For homeowners, this translates to the last chance to replace those windows before the worst time of year comes. Schedule early in the season to beat the rush. Do not try to wait until spring comes around again since it will cost you more to wait.
Winter comes with a long list of challenges for homeowners. Winter is cold and comes with fewer daylight hours, which can be a difficult environment for window installation. However, it can also be less expensive to install windows during this time versus others, and much easier to make appointments.
As long as you hire professionals, you can feel confident that they will know how to deal with the weather challenges that can adversely affect your installation. Your window contractors will be prepared to deal with the cold with different techniques used to ensure the caulk and other adhesives still work during the installation process.
Replacement Windows with Southwest Exteriors
Chipped, dated, and poorly functioning. If these words describe your home’s existing windows, it may be time to think about upgrading with new replacements.
At Southwest Exteriors, our experts are ready to help guide you through the entire replacement window installation process from start to finish. As a top-rated home remodeling company, we’re proud to offer our customers with the best customer service, high-quality window products from leading manufacturers, and the most affordable prices on the market.
If you’d like more information on professional replacement windows, we’d love to speak with you. Give us a call to speak with one of our agents about our window installation or fill out our online form to schedule your free, in-home assessment.