s Replacement Window 101: Which Windows Are Right For Me? - The Kim Six Fix
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Replacement Window 101: Which Windows Are Right For Me?

Replacement windowsThe seven things you need to know about replacement windows
The summer after moving into our house, we immediately knew we had a problem with temperature regulation in the rooms on the front side of the building (which happen to be the kids’ bedrooms). During the heat of the day the sun would shine directly into the windows and because those rooms are located above the garage, they would heat up like an oven.  No amount of air conditioning blasted into that space was going to keep those rooms cool.

40523750 1We knew needed to do something to better insulate those front rooms and the first thing we thought of was replacing the windows.

The original windows in our house were single pane with aluminum frames. Back in 1992 when they were installed they may have been considered to of the line, but now there were in desperate need of replacement.

At that time, we were in a rush to get them replaced and so we didn’t really shop around.  We randomly chose a company from a flyer we received in the mail and had the windows replaced sight unseen. They were the cheapest option and we just wanted to get it done.

The difference with replacement windows was AMAZING.  The average temperatures in those front rooms dropped at least 10 degrees. During the heat of the day the air conditioning can keep the rooms cool, and the new windows LOOKED fantastic.  They weren't corroded and they slid smoothly and easily in the track.  We then realized exactly how horrible the old windows had been.

With the increased efficiency and ease of use, it only made sense to replace the remaining windows (along with our sliding glass door.)  This time however, we are going to be smarter about which brand we choose. There is actually a huge difference between brands.

Now we have lived with these windows for two years and I am beginning to regret not doing our homework better.  Our original replacement windows don’t have a warranty and and the brand isn’t even in business anymore.  What happens if something goes wrong?  Saving a little money up front may mean having to replace them AGAIN down the line.

Not too smart.

So now that I’m looking at replacing the remaining windows, I’ve done a LOT more homework and learned a lot more about the process. I want to thank Milgard® for partnering with me and helping me with my research on replacement windows. Now  I know exactly what to look for in a replacement window company and in the features of quality replacement windows.

You really want to compare apples to apples and the information out there can be overwhelming. So today I am going break it down for you so you know what to look for too.

What to look for when purchasing replacement windows:


1. Material:
There are four major types of window material.  Each with their own pros and cons and some materials are much better suited to replacement windows versus new construction.  So here is a really quick rundown of the four types.
Screen Shot 2017 09 30 at 10 21 27 AMWood:
- Beautiful and have the authentic historic look (best choice if replacing windows in historic homes)
- High maintenance
- Paintable (Milgard’s wood lines have a powder coated exterior finish to make them extra durable)
- Successtiple to weather and temperature changes, best in milder climates
- Typically more expensive than other materials
- Some brands swell or warp

Fiberglass:
- Stongest Material available
- Good for large windows
- Paintable
- Resists swelling and warping
- One of the more expensive options for replacement windows

Aluminum:
- Small frame size
- Low maintenance
- Conduct heat and cold so they are best in milder climates
- Slightly more expensive
- Best choice for those looking for a modern look

Vinyl:
- Durable
- Don’t rust, rot or corrode
- Low maintenance
- Energy efficient
- Affordable
- Large variety of colors


2. Single or Double Pane and Glass Coatings
Older windows may only contain a single sheet of glass in the window frame. These are called a “single pane” windows. Most replacement windows sold today are "double-pane" windows with two sheets of glass containing a sealed gas-filled pocket between.

Single pane windows typically have an insulative value of R-1. Modern double pane windows can have R values as high as R-3.8 which reduces heat loss by as much as 300%.

If you live in warm climates (like we do) heat loss may not be your problem. We needed windows that would keep the heat out! Double glazed windows do help, but you also want to consider special reflective coatings on the glass itself. This can make a huge difference. Low-E2 coatings on the glass reduce UV rays from entering your home and reflects the heat and some manufacturers have coatings that go a step further at reducing solar heat gain.


3. Window Style & Operation Type
When choosing your replacement windows you have to decide how you want the new windows to look.  If your homeowners association or zoning rules require a specific look, you are most likely going to do a “like for like” replacement. A double hung window replaced with another double hung window.  But if you have no restrictions, you have the ability to actually change the entire look of your home with replacement windows. Replacement windows come is such a wide variety of styles, you want to make sure the ones you choose reflect the overall style of your home.
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You also want to consider the way a window operates.  Fire code often requires a certain amount of egress in bedrooms which can only be achieved by certain types of windows. The size of the window and how the window swings will impact how easily someone can escape out of window in case of emergency.
Screen Shot 2017 09 30 at 11 12 48 AM
Make sure you know your windows are LEGALLY installed before going through with the replacement progress.

4. Security & Hardware
Making sure your window and door locks are easy to use and effective at securing your windows should be a priority.  Inexpensive windows may come with less robust locking mechanisms.

Some things you want to consider are:
-How easy are the windows to open?
- How easy are they to lock and unlock?
- Is is easy to know if the windows are locked or unlocked?
- What is the profile of the locking mechanism? (Will it disrupt the use of my window coverings?)
- Do you need improved accessibility? (Will someone with mobility issues be using the windows?)
- How strong are the locks? Could they be easily broken?
Smarttouch 300Visiting a showroom and actually getting hands on with the window and door locking mechanism is something that I really recommend. There is value in actually touching and trying out a window instead of buying them sight unseen.

5. Color
Depending on the material your window is made of you may or may not be able to paint it.  You want to know if your replacement windows are available in a color that matches your home’s exterior.

Color window
6. Warranty
Every brand has their own warranty, but make sure you read the fine print. You want to make sure you are actually getting what you think you are getting.

Some things to look for in a warranty:
How long does the warranty last?
Is it transferrable?
Does it cover replacement or just repair?
Does it cover labor?
Does it cover problems with installation?
Does it cover damage to the glass or just the frames?
How do you register for the warranty?
How soon can I expect my window to be replaced or fixed?
Are their maintenance requirements that must be met to keep the warranty valid?
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7. Brand Reputation
Buying windows from a reputable brand with a proven track record gives you the peace of mind that they will still be in business 10 years from now.  Window companies come and go and many don’t have a lot of experience with replacement window production.  Make sure the window brand you choose is reliable and trustworthy.

Now that I have done my research and am selecting our next set of replacement windows which brand will I go with? 

We have decided on MILGARD Vinyl Replacement Windows  (Specifically, the Tuscany® Series). Here is why:

1.  Material:
We selected vinyl for it’s low maintenance and energy efficiency. Milgard vinyl windows are made with their own proprietary vinyl formula to withstand harsh climates (important for our sun drenched location) and they fabricate each window to order for the best fit.

These vinyl windows also meet ENERGY STAR qualifications here in California, which is a big priority for us.

2. Double Pane with Low-E3 Glass
SunCoat® Low-E2 glass comes standard on all Milgard dual-pane windows and patio doors.  This is must-have in sunny areas.  (It also can help prevent bleaching of floors, rugs and textiles!)   We are planning to upgrade to SunCoatMAX® Low-E3 glass which reduces the heat transmission further and offers additional protection against UV rays.

This was one of our top priorities, since heat transmission through the windows was the biggest problem with our old windows.

3. Window Style & Operation Type
Our homeowners association requires like-for-like replacement windows.  Milgard offers almost every type of architectural style, so it will be easy to match all the types of windows on the rest of the house.

4. Security & Hardware
The Milgard SmartTouch® lock and handle which makes it very easy to open and close windows with the touch of a finger (and one smooth motion for the doors.) This is important since our kids will be opening and closing the windows and doors, the aren’t strong enough to do it with our current aluminum windows (which could be catastrophic during a fire or earthquake.)

Since our back sliding door is on ground level we are also happy to have the SmartTouch Bolt for added security.

5. Color
We needed white windows, since that is what we currently have, but  Milgard offers 10 different colors of vinyl window.

6. Warranty 
Milgard is the only window company that offers a Full Lifetime Warranty to the original purchaser of the windows. Other brands may imply their warranty is forever, but if you read the fine print there are a lot of exclusions.

7. Brand
We learned this the hard way. When you buy from a fly by night brand, it is possible (no it is likely) they won’t be around when and if your windows ever start to fall apart.  Milgard has been in business over 50 years and they stand by their products.

I recently visited a window showroom to see the Milgard window lines in person, and I made a quick video to show you the process.  



This exact choice in replacement windows may not be right for everyone.  Milgard actually has a fabulous 7-question window “Help me choose" tool to help determine exactly which window line would be best for your needs.Screen Shot 2017 09 29 at 10 56 28 PMNow that you are more aware of all the different features and options, you are a much more prepared homeowner!  Don’t make the same mistake we did.  Replacement windows can add so much to your home, from comfort and efficiency to increased resale value.  There are a lot of benefits to consider when choosing whether or not to replace your windows. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting before you invest!


Thank you so much to Milgard for patterning with me on this post.  They have been an invaluable resource when researching and learning about window replacement. I have been compensated for this content, but the opinions are my own.
 

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