When it's time to replace worn out windows or you just want a new look for your home, it's time to go shopping for windows. There are countless options for new windows from inexpensive off-the-shelf models to custom versions.
The following window buying guide covers five key factors you should consider before making that choice.
Wood: Some of the best windows for home installations are made with wooden frames, which provide a natural look most homeowners prefer. As a natural material that has been used in architecture for centuries, wood frames provide insulation and usually last through several generations of occupants at a given property. You can either paint or varnish wood, therefore making it applicable to a wide array of color schemes and interior styles.
Fiberglass: One of the newer options on the market for window frames is fiberglass, which is a strong and visually diverse material. Many modern homeowners favor fiberglass because of its ability to mimic the appearance of other materials, including wood. Frames made of fiberglass are weather-resistant and generally offer good insulation in a variety of climates. Unlike wood, fiberglass does not need to be painted or coated, and the material retains its original color.
Vinyl: Homeowners who favor a sleek, shiny look for their window frames often choose vinyl, which is typically seen around the window panes of newer homes and buildings. As with fiberglass, vinyl does not need to be painted, coated or maintained in any way. Many residents also favor vinyl due to its insulating qualities, which allow them to save on energy. However, vinyl is known to fade over time through direct exposure to sunlight.
Aluminum: For many decades, window frames made of aluminum were almost as popular as wooden ones. However, while wood remains a perennial favorite, aluminum has mostly fallen out of favor amid the rise of fiberglass and vinyl. The problem with aluminum is that it provides poor insulation and can leave homes exceedingly cold in the winter months. Today, aluminum window frames are mostly used in apartment complexes and business buildings.
Single-Hung: Single-hung windows consist of two horizontal sashes, with or without grilles. The bottom sash opens while the upper sash remains fixed. To open the window, the bottom sash is raised internally in front of the upper sash.
Double-Hung: Double-hung windows also consist of two horizontal sashes, with or without grilles, and both sashes open. The lower sash is raised internally in front of the upper sash, while the upper sash lowers externally in front of the lower sash.
Sliding: Sliding windows consist of two and sometimes three vertical sashes. The sash that opens moves from side to side, rather than up or down. In sets with two sashes, the right sash opens leftward internally in front of the stationary left sash. In sets with three sashes, the two end sashes may open in front of the stationary center sash.
Casement: Casement sets consist of one vertical window, with or without grilles, that slides outward at one end. The window can be cracked slightly for minor drafts or opened out to 45-degree angles for more ventilation. Casement windows open with a crank handle, which you can turn until you’ve reached the desired openness.
Awning: An awning consists of a horizontal window that opens outward along the bottom. The awning is hinged along the top frame. Awnings are often above vertical windows for added ventilation.
Bow: The bow window is much like the bay, only rounded. A bow assembly will typically consist of four or five horizontal windows to achieve the more oval shape. The two outer windows are usually equipped to open outward. As with the bay window, the bow protrudes outward from a home’s exterior and creates additional interior space.
Bay: The bay window is a protruding set that consists of three horizontal windows, each with or without grilles. The two side windows protrude from the exterior of the house at 45-degree angles while the center window aligns parallel to the wall, effectively forming a half-relieved hexagon. The side windows open to an outward tilt with the use of a crank handle, while the center window remains stationary. Bay windows create extra interior space, which homeowners often use for plants, candles and fixtures.
Windows are one of the most important features on any home. As the feature that allows natural light into the house and also offers views of the outside from within, windows make interiors seem less dark, unnatural and confining. At the same time, windows provide insulation and security by blocking out wind, UV rays, insects and intruders.