What You Should Know About Windows


written by: Mike Gosser

I sometimes think about how windows are the most important element of a house. As a code requirement, it is mandated for various safety concerns and you should check with your local building department for any special requirements.

First and foremost, windows provide light, ventilation and connects you to the outside world. A good window can also save you money by holding in expensive, generated heat and cooling.

Listed below are things you should know about windows.

1. What are the best choices (quality should dictate your choice)?

2. What are the different applications and costs?

Quality should dictate your choice – I have seen and installed many windows in my time. I have to say that an all wood window; wood being a natural insulator and very durable, would be my first choice. It must have a clad exterior that can stand up well to the ultra violet light and moisture. I suggest insulated a low-e glass as the minimal requirement. A primed interior is a good value, especially if the sashes have muntins, also known as grilles or divided lights.

Applications and costs – There are basically two types of installations. First is the complete removal of the entire existing window, including the frame, sill and all related trim. This is sometimes the best option if the frame, sill and moldings are rotted. This is usually the most expensive option because everything is being installed new and will also need to be painted. This application usually takes 4-6 hours plus the cost of painting!

The second option (best choice),  if the frame is in good shape, is an insert application. Basically this is done by only having to remove the existing sashes, leaving the frame, moldings and all related trim untouched. Therefore, all the moldings and adjacent surfaces will not need painting! Your new window insert unit is sized to fit into the existing frame. This installation usually only takes a few hours and has no, or minimal painting cost! If the exterior mouldings are in poor shape, not rotted, you could wrap them with aluminum or just replace them. Synthetic type boards are a good choice. They come with a weathered look on one side or smooth on the other.

Note – In my opinion, I do not believe vinyl windows are meant for cold northern climates but I also understand how budgets effect window purchases. A couple of things to remember, a good window will make you feel more comfortable, subdue noise levels, and last for many years to enjoy. A well established window company will provide good warranties and provide parts over the life of the unit.

Next week I will discuss tools. The basic group of tools every homeowner should have.