Choosing windows

posted Mar 28, 2014, 4:34 AM by Brian Carpenter   [ updated Jan 13, 2016, 11:02 AM ]
In response to a posting on FPF

Dear Peggy,
I am a home renovation contractor. When You set out to choose windows, you should know that there are basically two different types of windows: new construction and replacement windows. I build walls and install new construction windows all the time they require access to the exterior walls of your home under the siding to install them and flash them properly.
Most homeowners are looking to replace their old windows with new windows of the same size. They are looking for replacement windows. I don;t do them, but can recommend Window World of VT (Marty Dean). Window world does a great job and they do literally 10 a day (experience matters)
After you determine what type of windows you are in the market for, you need to determine what you are looking for: Single, double or triple pane? Double hung, casement, awning or slider? Vinyl, Fiberglass, aluminum or wood? Each have good and bad points. The more glass, the heavier they get, but the better insulation they have. (U-factor is the opposite of R-value in which insulation is rated. U-ratings are how fast heat goes through, not how much resistance to heat flow there is) Single plane (awnings, casements) seal better because there are fewer edges than double hung or sliders. Casements are great, but they need adjustment after they have been open for a summer. You should take this into consideration as you shop. Since you are replacing them, you don't need to buy the similar style to what you have. Vinyl is great. Aluminum cold. Fiberglass stronger and a better insulator. Wood is the classic. and Wood with aluminum outside is the cadillac. Classic interior, minor maintenance exterior, but they are pricey.
It is a formidable undertaking. And a sizeable investment in your home. remember that the price of the unit is yours to keep, and the labor to install them is often negotiable, especially when there are more than  one going in. That price may start out at $90/window, but i have seen it come down to $60/window when a crew can stay occupied all day. If you live in an old home (pre-1973) expect lead paint testing and any necessary abatement to be an expensive undertaking. everything will get plastic-ed off, and super-cleaned afterwards. It is the law.
Oh, and do consider wrapping the exterior trim. it is worth it. it makes for a nice weather seal and clean installation when they are done. even if they trample your flower beds in the process.
Good luck,
Brian Carpenter

Dear Brian,

Thank you for all the wonderful information on windows.  It has not gone unnoticed that you spent a bit of your valuable time to write advice for me.  I really appreciate it.