The short answer is yes, we are now certified installers of Ply Gem, Windsor Windows and doors, Cascade Windows and Milgard. In most cases, a single installation will include products from a single vendor, for example, Ply Gem Windows, but there are cases where a combination of products are installed in a single building or part of a building. That is because, individual window manufacturers often specialize in specific conditions. And even on a single house, there are often different requirements on the front, sides and back of a home. For example, if your house is south-facing, you may want triple glazing on that side of the house, especially if you live on a busy street where the noise levels are high and you would like the extra sound insulation that comes with triple-glazed windows. On the back of the house, however, you might want a window product that is suited to a damp and shaded area. Each of these two distinct qualities might be better answered by the qualities of different manufacturers.
Do you need single- or double-glazed windows?
It wasn’t that long ago that houses were build with single glazed windows arr round. Especially in new construction. It was a time before central heating, and a time before thoughts of economical use of energy was of little interest. Do you remember a time when the heating caused windows to fog up heavily all winter long? That’s the condensation of moisture in the interior air to form on the much colder pane of glass. And in some cases, actual freezing would occur, leaving a sheet of ice on the inside of the window. Then came double-glazing. With the gap between the two panes an airtight compartment of sorts, the inside pane could remain relatively close to the same temperature as the inside of the house. That means condensation is unlikely to form. And when the gap between the panes remains sealed, the bone dry air offered no moisture to condense within that sealed gap. That is, as long as the gap between the panes remains complete sealed.
Today, a number of inert gas combinations are usually added to that gap. The choice of gas is often made to assist in the blocking of such things as ultraviolet light, in addition to the insulatory effects of the glass content itself.
Triple-glazed windows are less common here in the Pacific Northwest, probably because of the mild climate. It’s not often hot enough for air-conditioning, nor cold enough to warrant the extra insulation offered by triple-glazing. There are, however, other reasons for choosing triple-glazing. If you’ve ever stood in a room with closed window panes that were triple-glazed, especially on a busy street, you’ll remember just how quiet the room is. Provided, that is, the window frames and walls in general were properly sealed and insulated.
Finally, another reason to choose triple-glazing is for privacy. That third pane of glass offers considerably more see-through privacy, especially if it was designed to do so. Have you ever noticed a slight green tint to ordinary glass, especially when you see several panes together? That’s the natural tint of glass that is hard to remove, but works well to give the inhabitants of the typical home more privacy during the day than simple double-glazing offers.
Vinyl, wood, aluminum or hybrid window frames?
The next question is, what type of window frames do you want. Vinyl window frames have come a long way in the past few decades, and have overtaken aluminum frames in popularity for a number of reasons. They don’t corrode, rot and change their shape over time like wooden window frames can do. They can be made with vinyl that is already got the color you want, obviating the need to paint them after installation. There’s also another great advantage vinyl frames have over aluminum: They offer far better heat insulation, simply because they are plastic. To confirm this, the next time you open your freezer to take out the tray of ice cubes, notice how easy it is to hold it. Now leave a dinner spoon in the same freezer overnight and hold it in your hand the next morning. Even though both objects are the same temperature, the spoon – because it conducts heat so quickly – will suck the heat of your hand much fast, and will appear much colder.
If you left your long-playing vinyl record albums in direct sunlight, or even in a hot room, they may be damaged by the heat. The truth is, though, the type of vinyl used to make window frames to days is nothing like that vinyl. It can withstand a far higher range of temperatures, and also the daily, seasonal and yearly swings of temperatures over a considerable lifetime of your new windows. That makes them far more effective than their aluminum or wood frame cousins.
There are also today some hybrid type window frames. The hybrid is usually a combination of wood on the outside (for decorative effect) and vinyl on the inside (for structural and functional effect). In addition, some neighborhood covenants require a certain type of window frame, and this is often wood. Still, if you want the structural properties of vinyl, this hybrid combination might be perfect for your needs. There are so many varieties today, it would take me a thousand pages to describe every possible combination.
How price conscious are you?
Not every window product is the same price. Many manufacturers offer similar looking products, but of different quality levels. If you are installing a window in a modestly priced home that is perhaps being prepared as a rental property, you might opt for a different price level that if your house is worth three million dollars and is in an expensive part of town.
There are also ‘premium’ manufacturers, and ‘affordable’ manufacturers. Before jumping at the first option you see, talk to your windows installation company to help you with making the right choice. They will help you narrow it down quickly to a shortlist of best possible options.