There are many excellent window manufacturers on the market today. It’s difficult to pin point a single manufacturer as the “best” because different manufacturers are more suitable for specific types of installation needs. For example, Milgard might have the perfect color and hybrid options for your house, while your neighbor’s home, being of a different style entirely, might find Cascade or other brand more suitable. Even within the hundreds of options available, there are differences between brands.
How do I select the best kind of window for my house?
Many people, understandably, don’t know just how many types of windows are available on the market. Even from a single manufacturer, a catalog can be an inch thick. Some variations are more popular than others, but it is very much worth it to pore through a catalog before you make your final decision. In addition, work with your windows installer company to select the best option. He or she will help you narrow down the list to a handful of window designs, and this list shortening step is well worth the investment of time because you will likely be living with your choices once you place your order.
Some homeowners seem to have a natural “artistic eye” for selecting fixtures in a home. I, for one, always have to rely on expert help in making such selections – everything from paint color choices to furniture selection – but if you have that ability, you are definitely off to a good start. I do know a nice window installation when I see it, but I don’t have that artistic eye, so I always get help!
Window installer company is a bigger factor than window manufacturer
Installing a set of windows, while not perhaps being rocket science, when it is done badly, it can go very wrong. Windows perform several important functions. They provide light for the inside of your home, of course, but they also must provide a degree of heat, noise and moisture insulation. In addition, they must be strong enough to support their own weight, take a bit of punishment, and enable the operation of a number of moving parts. Over the lifetime of a given window installation, the constant opening and closing of windows, as well as the repetitive heating and cooling of its component parts, all the while not compromising its core functions, means you must get the initial installation right. Unless you have specific experience with window installation, it’s one of those home DIY projects you want to avoid. Use an experienced and proven contractor who is bonded, licensed and insured.
What kind of choices are there when it comes to types of windows?
Although there are – if you consider all manufacturers’ product ranges – thousands of windows to choose from, there are only a handful of truly different options. There is of course the window frame material, which can be wood, vinyl, aluminum, or a combination. This ‘combination’ option is often called hybrid, and it’s usually wood on the outside and vinyl on the inside. Such windows are slightly more expensive, but they offer the beauty of a wood finish with the strength, flexibility and durability of a vinyl window infrastructure. Although vinyl started out some decades ago on a rocky footing, vinyl now is a standout in terms of durability, insulation and all the properties you’d want from an excellent window solution. And yet, with the wood exterior finish, a traditional wood look to the house can be maintained, and your home’s natural beauty remains intact. The best of both worlds, as they say!
Choosing colors for your windows
Colors are often a challenge for people when it comes to windows. It can be hard to imagine how a color will turn out post-installation. As you look at your color options from withing a window catalog open on a table under artificial light, most people would not be able to get a workable sense of what it would look like under direct sunlight on the side of their home. It takes, again, an experienced eye to select the best colors, and here again is where you should rely on the expertise and experience of a professional who is good at making such choices. It certainly is possible to paint the window frames after installation, but it’s a far better idea to buy them from the manufacturer fully painted in the first place.
Single, double or triple glazed?
A couple of generations ago, windows were single glazed. That was before the invention of central heating, and there was no point in double glazing windows in a room that was usually close to the temperature of the exterior anyway. But since central heating – and air conditioning I might add – single glazed windows were a huge source of escaped heat and rising heating bills. They were also poor at keeping the inside air cool in the hot summer. They would freeze in the winter and bake in the summer. Along came double glazing, and with it, a number of great benefits.
It’s not that often that the cost of triple glazed windows is justified. Usually, double glazing is enough, but there are circumstances where it makes a lot of sense. For me, triple glazing offers two great advantages: Sound insulation and extra privacy. The fist time I ever experienced triple-glazing was at a friend’s house in Los Angeles. He lived on a noisy street where traffic ran past his house it seemed 24 hours a day. But when he closed the windows of the living room facing that street, the room became eerily quiet. He explained that the installed triple-glazing for that exact purpose. And from the outside during the day, strangers driving or walking past the house could not easily see inside his living room. The triple glazing gave a faint mirror effect, and the glass looked a little green. A nice touch of privacy was a wonderful benefit of the triple-glazed windows.
Check back next week!