Planning window renovation? Before you bring out your wallet to buy replacement windows from your neighborhood hardware store, here are a few pointers about the art of replacing windows.
There are over 15 brands of replacement windows to choose from. Although there are standard sizes for these products supposedly to make a DIY job seem like a piece of cake, every window has its unique sizing, sound abatement, energy efficiency rating, view, and use of material. Pre-fab window replacement products almost always don’t fit properly. This means there will be some adjustments (maybe carpentry work) that will have to done.
Also interesting for anyone new to replacement windows is the fact that the newer frame designs made of vinyl have foam fill to provide additional insulation. However, environmentalists have made comments known about the hazards of using this kind of frame. While it is the cheapest, it can lead to the release of toxins like dioxin if the frame ever gets exposed to fire.
If you are concerned about the environment, it is important to know that all six window parts can be “green.” These parts are: frame, the glazing on the glass panels, spacers between glass panels, gas between glass panels, hardware and seals used to the operable elements of the window.
With the frame, aside from vinyl (PVC), you have the option of fiberglass and aluminum clad wood. Comparing aluminum clad wood to fiberglass and you will discover that the main difference is in the insulation and cost. Fiberglass is less expensive, can come as foam-filled, but is less aesthetically pleasing compared to the aluminum clad wood.
If you opt for a foam-filled frame, the trickiest part is in the installation. If you want the best performing foam-filled window frame, it must be installed manually by an expert. In the case of vinyl windows, they have a tendency to contract and expand as much as 10 times compared to the other two frame options.
As for the other window parts:
- Glazing is basically the same with all brands although it would be a good idea to consider low emission-coating (e-coating). This type of coating keeps the room warm on cold days and the cool on hot days.
- The gas between panels is argon, krypton, or air
- Spacers are made of stainless steel, aluminum, or foam silicone. They also help prevent moisture build-up. Spacers are considered the weak link of a window assembly
Windows are not going to last forever but they don’t have to be replaced if the installation is done correctly and you select your assembly with care factoring all concerns from cost to environment and value to your home.