8 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy New Windows for Your Home

Man replacing a window

Is it time to buy new windows for your home? It could be that you’re home is simply in need of repairs, updates, more energy efficiency, or you’re simply moving to a new home.  Whatever the reason, there are a few essential things to know before choosing which windows will best fit your needs and home. Before you pull out your wallet, take some time to review this simple list of 8 important things to know before you buy new windows.

When to Buy New Windows

Weather damage, remodeling, trying to sell your home, these and numerous other reasons may compel you to buy new windows. Honestly, if not because of damage or immediate need, knowing when to buy new windows may be more about personal preference than anything.

Whether you’re going for an update in style or trying to reduce your energy bill, updating your windows will bring major changes to your home’s aesthetics and mechanics.

1. Which Materials are Best?

Now before you jump right for the best-looking windows or the most “energy efficient,” it’s important to know what you’re working with. Literally.

The material a window is made out of will be a vital aspect to seriously consider and research before choosing. Depending on where you live, your climate, the age of your house, the location of your windows within your home, (we could go on and on), the material you choose may not be “one size fits all.”

Typically, your most common materials are:

  • wood
  • vinyl
  • fiberglass
  • aluminum

Fiberglass windows tend toward the more expensive side, though they are stronger than windows made from vinyl.

Wood is the most common and does require some maintenance and repainting. Wood offers the most variety in look and is the sturdiest. However, vinyl is a great alternative as it insulates quite well and requires less maintenance and no repainting.

Beautiful home wall of windows

2. Single, Double, or Triple Pane Glass?

For the most part, single pane glass windows are not used anymore. They don’t insulate well and are too easily broken.

Double pane windows eliminate heat loss by trapping air between the layers. You can find and choose double pane windows in a variety of options that offer different degrees of insulation.

Double pane windows can also be found with an invisible metal coating to prevent heat loss. There are also double pane glass windows with argon to help with insulation.

If you live in an area with a good amount of urban noise, double or triple pane windows also help insulate against sound.

Triple pane windows may cost you a good amount more, almost 10-14% more than double pane. However, if you plan to live in your home for a long time, or you live in a rather cold climate, they are worth the investment.

The more panes, the better insulated. Thus, if you’re building a home or replacing your windows in Minnesota, go triple.

3. What is an “R-value”?

If you’re new to home construction or repairs, you’ve probably never heard of windows having an R-value.

This simply refers to the energy efficiency of your windows. The higher the R-value of a window, the greater it’s insulating power.

Single pane windows only have an R-value of 1, while double pane windows can reach as high as 4 R-value. Triple pane windows range anywhere from an R-value of 5-7.

4. What is “U-Factor?”

Just like the R-value, the U-factor is an indicator of how well your window conducts non-solar heat. In the case of U-factors, the lower the better.

The lower your window’s U-factor, the more energy efficient it is.

Whatever type of windows you opt to purchase, keep in mind that windows with high R-values and low U-factors can bring the added perk of tax credits.

Purchasing Energy Star rated windows can also mean lower energy bills.

5. Sliding Window Perks

Many homeowners opt for sliding windows in kitchens or family rooms. Sliding windows offer great light and unobstructed views.

However, it is also important to note when deciding to choose a sliding window that they are unable to open all the way. Ventilation is harder with them.

Fortunately, they tend to be less expensive and require less maintenance because of their simple nature and functionality.

Landscaping under windows

6. Outdoor Architecture and Landscaping

When choosing your windows, never forget to keep in mind the landscaping of your home and the layout. If you have neighbors straight across your bedroom view, perhaps tinted or misted windows may be better for you.

Bay windows may seem like an obvious choice when it comes to looks, but if you have large trees right outside where they might be, perhaps you don’t want leaves and branches constantly blocking your view.

It’s also valuable to consider what photos, furniture, or rugs your windows may be shining light onto.

To protect your possessions, installing windows with great UV protection is definitely worth your money.

7. How Safe Are Your Windows?

Who doesn’t love a stunning floor to ceiling window that lets in tons of light? While windows like these are gorgeous additions to a home, they may not be the safest for top stories if you have children.

Safety may also become an issue for families with small children if you’re installing single rung windows.

Another safety question to ask yourself before choosing new windows is whether the glass is tempered if they are going to be placed close to your floor.

Just be sure to keep in mind that safety is an important aspect of the best window choice for your home. Make sure you purchase updated windows that are up to code, and that provide working and durable locks.

Types of windows

8. What Size Frame Jams Do You Need?

Before custom ordering window frames to replace your existing or future windows, be sure to carefully measure the thickness of your walls. This can be done by measuring the thickness of the existing jamb.

More Window Repair Tips

With these important considerations in mind, you’re ready to buy new windows and take one step closer to creating your dream space today.

For ideas on what window styles are available to choose from, review our comprehensive list of window designs and replacement styles. Enjoy!


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