Windows 101

By Tony Cookston

Windows 101

I know it can be somewhat overwhelming for the average person who may only buy windows once in their lifetime.  In this blog we are going to offer up all of the information you need to feel confident in your next window purchase.

Let’s start with the reasons you would need to replace your windows.

 Are your windows single pane? If your home is noticeably colder around the windows in the winter or if you can feel the heat radiating from them in the summer, there is a really good chance you are spending too much money heating and cooling your house. 

 If the interior of your windows are wet from condensation or there is a haze between the panes, the seals are probably broken.

Window technology has improved vastly over the years. Today’s windows are much more energy efficient and cost effective than in years past. If you have aluminum windows in your house or even if you have vinyl windows that are 20 years old, you can benefit substantially from having them replaced.

Today’s windows offer you so much more than just an opportunity to get some fresh air when you want it. They are better than ever at reducing the transfer of hot and cold air, reducing the ambient sounds that are meant to stay outside and reflecting the sun’s dangerous ultra-violet rays that fade your furniture. They can offer you shade in the parts of your home that get too much afternoon sun without sacrificing your view by covering them with drapes and blinds. They also offer increased security with night latches and positive action locks that you just can’t get with those old windows. Today’s windows even come in a variety of colors so you can add a unique look to your home and set it apart from the others on your street. There is also a wide variety of window styles to choose from,  windows that slide up and down or left to right,  hinged windows that swing open and closed and windows of all shapes and sizes that don’t open at all. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

Replacing all the windows in your home can seem a bit ominous. Keep in mind; you do not have to replace them all at once. You can do it one room at a time or even one window at a time and break the project up. It’s like the old saying, “The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” At first glance it seems impossible, but in phases it’s just a bunch of small projects. That also makes it easier on the pocket book if you’re not planning on taking out a loan to get it done.

Types of windows:

Horizontal sliders – The left and right sides of the window are separated into two panels. One half of the window slides from one side to the other and the other half of the window is stationary. The sliding panel can be on either side that you prefer. They are called out as an XO or OX sliding window. The “X” represents the Sliding panel and the”O” represents the fixed panel. You will need to know which way you would like them to slide before you order. The screen only covers the panel that slides.

Awning – This window is hinged at the top. It opens out (from the bottom) as you turn the crank on the interior of the window. The screen is on the inside and covers the entire window.

Casement - This window is hinged on one side or the other and opens out when you turn the crank on the inside. You will need to determine which side you would like it to open from before you order your windows. They are called out as Left Hand or Right Hand casement windows. The screen is on the inside and covers the entire window.

Single Hung – The top and bottom of this window is separated into two panels. The bottom panel slides up. Sash balances in the window hold the slide panel in place when it is open preventing it from falling down. The screen is on the outside and covers only the sliding panel.

Double Hung – the top and bottom of this window is separated into two panels. Both top and bottom panels are sliders allowing you to either slide the top panel down or the bottom panel up. Often times these panels will also tilt in for ease of cleaning. The screen is on the outside and covers the entire window.

Garden Window - Garden Windows project out from the home.  They are a three-sided window that includes a shelf with a glass top and glass sides. There are several styles so you will want to have an idea of what you want it to look like before you order.


There is some terminology you will want to be familiar with before you order your windows, so I will list some of the important terms for you.

The U-value of a window is the measure of the flow of heat through the glass of the window. (The lower the U-value, the better the insulating ability) Window manufacturers reduce the transfer of heat using a transparent film that is applied to the interior surface of the glass called Low-E. There are different grades of low-e film available. Since your windows cannot be insulated as well as your walls, you will want to get the best performing windows that you can to prevent heat loss/heat gain.


An STC rating (Sound Transmission Class) is an instrument measurement of how much noise is stopped. Windows can be manufactured to block noise from entering your home through the glass in your window.

A single pane window, often found in older aluminum framed windows, is a window made with only one thickness of glass between the interior and exterior of your home. These windows are extremely inefficient.

A double pane window (insulated window) is made up of 2 panes of glass separated by an air space. These windows have become the standard for most manufacturers because of their efficiency.

Spacers are used to separate and fix the 2 pieces of glass together at the edges sealing the air space between them keeping moisture out that can cloud the view through your window.

Lastly, you will want to choose the color of your windows. Most manufacturers offer vinyl windows in White and Almond. Some windows are also available in an array of other exterior colors. You will want to know what color you prefer for the exterior of your windows before you place your order.

 

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