Every residential window project has a unique set of needs. The geographical location of your project and the climate associated with it, the budget, timeline, design aspirations and regional codes can make window shopping daunting. But, finding a manufacturer that meets all your pain points doesn’t have to be complicated. By focusing on the most important factors, you’ll be sure to choose the best windows for your project.
Vinyl windows’ benefits are immense due to their energy-efficiency and durability. However, you also need to consider the price point, glass quality and if you need a custom solution to satisfy your vision.
Below are the things that we’ve found to be the most important when selecting ideal windows for your residential projects.
What to Keep in Mind
When choosing the best window design and configuration, there are a multitude of factors to consider. The type of material and how durable it is, the styles available from the manufacturer, the warranties, energy-efficiency levels, glass quality and customization are just a few.
Materials and Durability
The window material chosen needs to be suitable for the weather conditions of the area. There are numerous materials to choose from, but the most popular are fiberglass, aluminum, wood and vinyl.
Fiberglass is one of the most robust, most durable materials on the market when it comes to windows. They require less maintenance than their traditional wood competitors yet still retain the quality, authentic look of real, finished wood. Plus, fiberglass windows are able to withstand extreme heat and subzero temperatures.
But while fiberglass windows do offer visual appeal, quality and durability, they are highly cost-prohibitive. If you choose fiberglass windows, clients should know they will spend most of their budget on the material.
Aluminum is a popular material option for frames and sashes because they are lower maintenance, less expensive and more durable than wood. Aluminum windows are often available in a wide range of colors and finishes and are readily available in a variety of configurations.
Aluminum windows are generally thin-framed, so your windows will highlight the glass pane, lacking the wood appearance that many homeowners love. Aluminum is fairly durable and structurally strong, but it tends to visibly chip or dent. It can also have issues with corrosion and fading.
Wood windows can give your client a more natural and traditional-looking home. Wood frames can be stained or painted to match any style and can also be well insulated and help maintain a comfortable temperature in the home year-round.
However, the quality of wood you purchase is vital as lower-quality wood often isn’t treated to prevent moisture damage, leaving your client with mold and mildew from heavy rains and humidity. Plus, wood requires regular maintenance to ensure longevity and is a hot spot for pests and critters.
Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance-free once installed, saving your clients time and effort. Vinyl is also the way to go if energy efficiency and insulation are priorities for your project. This material effectively reduces heat transfer, allows light penetration and regulates a room’s internal temperature.
Vinyl is easy to install because of its flexibility. No matter what color, configuration or finish you are looking for, you should have no problem with vinyl as your choice.
As for the downsides, while vinyl windows are great for most weather conditions, they can experience some expansion and contraction in extreme heat or cold or in areas where the climate fluctuates dramatically. However, if you want a custom window design, vinyl is the perfect choice, as it can be shaped into almost any configuration.
Window Type and Style Versatility
If your project requires different windows for different areas of the house, the availability of various sizes and styles is paramount. Both the interior and exterior house styles need to be taken into consideration when choosing windows. All homes have a specific architectural design that makes them unique, and choosing windows that match this style is an important first step.
Understanding the purpose of each window with insight from your client is also critical. Consider which rooms your window selections will serve. Is it a sun-facing window that’s primary purpose is to offer views? Is it a sliding glass door that leads onto a patio to host gatherings, or is it purely ornamental? Is this a room that needs ventilation with operable windows, or can fixed frames be used instead?
One of the most important considerations when looking at windows is the manufacturer warranty. Frequently, people neglect this facet of the window purchasing journey and later pay out of pocket for defective windows. While most window manufacturers have warranties, they can vary significantly.
Read the fine print and keep in mind that coverage on materials and labor will be different from manufacturer to manufacturer. A warranty is symbolic of the manufacturer’s confidence in their product.
One of the hottest claims associated with windows today is a substantial reduction in heating and cooling costs. Energy efficiency is at the top of everybody’s mind. Many homeowners want to know exactly how much they’ll be able to save and how long it will take for their windows to pay for themselves. The truth is, many factors go into the answer.
When trying to improve energy efficiency, you need to look at four factors: frame, glass, design and installation.
A well-constructed, properly installed vinyl window can be a fantastic choice for your budget — while still offering excellent energy efficiency through insulated glass and tight construction that drastically reduces air infiltration.
When it comes to glass, there are two crucial things to consider.
To qualify for ENERGY STAR status for energy efficiency, window manufacturers must meet standards for two primary metrics: U-value and SHGC.
U-value measures a window unit’s resistance to heat loss, and SHGC, or solar heat gain coefficient, measures how much heat is released inside a home through the glass. For both U-value and SHGC, the lower the number, the better the window will perform.
Finding a window supplier with high-quality glass offerings is often overlooked but can make a world of difference in energy efficiency, durability and light penetration.
In today’s market, customization is key. Unlike standardized stock windows you can buy at a home improvement store, custom windows allow you to select the exact style, size and features that are most important to your client.
Manufacturers who offer custom windows give you the ability to combine several window styles in your project for a unique and distinctive design across multiple spaces. But one-of-a-kind windows should not compromise on quality: They should have the same durability, warranty and glass quality as standard windows.
Image courtesy of Robie Exteriors
How Paradigm Can Help
Paradigm Windows offers made-to-order vinyl window solutions for any project. We have a wide range of configurations and styles to fit every need and we never compromise on quality. Our ENERGY STAR-rated custom vinyl windows and sliding glass doors are energy efficient, low maintenance, easy to install and covered by an industry-leading 5-year labor warranty and a 20-year limited paint warranty.
Our local dealers can help you choose the perfect solution for your customers’ budget and aesthetic needs. Find a local distributor today.
Part of this blog was also featured on Porch.com in a Q&A that highlights things to keep in mind while maintaining your home.