Picking the right windows is one of those decisions you make once and then live with them for years and years. It’s a major decision that determines everything from the light you get in your home to your power bill.
Still, how do you pick the right windows for your home?
After all, windows are not just an accessory or an aesthetic feature. It’s a functional part of your home that determines everything from the security of your home to the amount of upkeep your home will need.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you choose the right windows for your home.
Regarding safety, you need to understand that windows are the weak point of your home’s exterior. We’re not just talking about someone trying to break in but flying debris. Most homes have blinders on the interior, so your windows are completely exposed.
By choosing the right type of glass, you can find something more durable and less likely to shatter. If the window is broken, it will be easier to clean up the pieces, and the risk of injury will be considerably lower.
Some windows also have impact-resistant features. While this is not something many people look for when shopping around, if your neighborhood is renowned for forced entry attempts or riots, or if you live in an area with high wind velocity, this might be a priority.
Keep in mind that the pane is not the only risky part. You may also want to get a reinforced frame. This will significantly increase your resilience to break-ins.
The next thing you need to consider is the energy efficiency of windows. About 25-30% of your residential heating and cooling is leaving via windows, which is why this is a major choice that you cannot afford to downplay.
The first major choice you should make is the number of panes. All modern windows have more than one pane. Switching from single-pane to double-pane windows can save you about $250 per year, which you must consider.
Sure, three panes are even more efficient, but a jump in productivity is not exponential. In other words, the difference in productivity between one and two panes is much larger than the difference between two and three. For the sake of cost-efficiency, two is enough.
It’s not just about the number of panes; some designs are more energy-efficient than others. For instance, Marvin windows have such a reputation.
Also, windows are filled with argon gas (between the panes). While the energy efficiency is even higher, the ROI is not as great. In other words, you should only choose these if you’re more concerned with performance than cost-efficiency.
Larger windows produce more natural light. This is the main reason why you should go with larger windows. Natural light can replace artificial lighting, so your power use will be lower. Not to mention that natural light affects everything from your mood to your ability to focus on work (if you’re working from a home office).
Needless to say, larger windows are also far more expensive. You shouldn’t underestimate the cost of quality windows; replacing your windows to install larger ones might be incredibly costly. If you’re just building a home right now, you might find yourself in a scenario where the costs go way off because of the window sizes.
Just keep in mind that size isn’t the only thing that matters. The orientation of the building, the overall aesthetics, and even regulations and codes may dictate your decision. Then, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of the view either.
Ultimately, smaller windows provide more privacy.
The choice of the frame is probably the most significant one you’ll face. First of all, you need to choose between four viable options:
- Vinyl: This is the most common choice. The material is low cost and has high cost-effectiveness. It’s resistant to rot, it’s not fading, and it’s near impossible to peel. The maintenance and longevity of vinyl are also quite high.
- Wood: The more traditional and more expensive option. Wood frames have excellent thermal properties but are susceptible to rot and termite damage.
- Aluminum: This material is durable and low-maintenance; however, it’s not as energy-friendly as vinyl or wood. Also, it works best with modern designs.
- Fiberglass: This option has energy-efficient properties and requires very low maintenance. It comes in a lot of different textures (including wood).
Make sure to consider your home’s local climate and architectural style before making a choice. Aesthetics may not be as important as physical properties, energy-friendliness, and cost-efficiency, but you can’t outright dismiss this factor.
The maintenance of windows depends on the materials (what we’ve previously discussed). Naturally, vinyl and fiberglass windows are the easiest to maintain, followed by aluminum and composite windows. Wood windows, although classically beautiful, are susceptible to rot and termites.
They also peel and have to be refinished. In other words, when choosing the right window type for your home, considering the long run is a high priority. The cost of maintenance also needs to be factored in.
When discussing the window style, we usually refer to the frame’s design, the windows’ size, etc.
Remember that you cannot pick the window design in a vacuum. You need to consider the rest of your home. What’s the architectural style? What about the roof, door, and other elements? Which style will go well with your façade? These are just some things you’ll have to consider.
This decision is also quite contextual. For instance, redesigning a luxury home differs from restoring a historic building.
Remember that you don’t have to go with just one window type. You can use window combinations to create a more unique and functional design. Overall, a picture window flanked by two casement windows may be worth considering.
Ultimately, there’s a reason why windows come in different shapes, sizes and have frames made out of different materials. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Instead, you need to find the best windows that fit your needs.
You need windows that fit your budget, your home, your living room, and so on. In other words, you need to start with your desires and expectations. Past that, everything else will be simple.