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  Selecting Replacement Windows
Selecting Replacement Windows
by Bobby Carlten

Windows are the eyes of a home. From inside, you see the outside world through them. It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. For a home, you can gain a sense of its character by examining its windows.

Windows are the primary source of natural light for a room, but they are so much more. They give a home beauty and personality. The decision to replace them is an important one. Replacements can affect the feel of the home for inhabitants and provide the opportunity for significant energy savings. They can dramatically change the value of the property when it comes time to sell the home.

Types of replacement windows

There are many types of replacement windows to fit the varied styles of home architecture. Some of the more popular styles include the following.

<ol> <li>Casements have one or two panes. They are hinged on one side and open by rotating a crank. Casement windows generally open only 15 30 degrees, enough to let in light, but little else. </li> <li>Sliders are generally two offset sashes, one which will slide behind the other, much like a sliding glass door. </li> <li>Double hung have two sashes which move vertically, allowing ventilation through a space at the top and/or at the bottom. </li> <li>Bay windows are three-sided arrangements that project from the exterior wall of the house, usually in living rooms or formal sitting rooms. They give the room a larger feel while offering additional space for a seat or arrangements of potted plants. </li> <li>Bow windows are set in a series with each sash set at an angle. Bows are similar to bays in that they protrude from the exterior face of the house. They are different in that each sash or in the series is set at a slight angle so that the entire series forms a graceful curve or bow, rather than the sharp three-sided appearance of bay windows. There can be any number of sashes in the bow window series. </li> <li>Garden windows are frequently installed in kitchens, often replacing the sash behind the kitchen sink. These also extend beyond the exterior wall of the house. They are much smaller than bay or bow styles and are often used for holding potted plants, creating an interior garden, while giving an improved view of the outside lawn or garden. </li> <li>Skylights are installed into the roof of the house to provide direct lighting. These are generally not designed to be opened in order to provide the best weather seal. </li> </ol>


Replacement materials

Not so long ago, windows were simple panes of glass glazed into a sash. Efforts to become more energy efficient have turned them into highly engineered systems.

Single pane models have little insulating value and are still used in warmer climates.

Double pane or double glazed styles are built with an air space between the two panes of glass. This glass-air-glass sandwich permits much less energy radiation through the glass. Better insulating value is offered by designs with clear argon gas in place of air. Yet another system combines the double glazed models with panes of glass coated with a low emissivity (low-e) film. This coating reduces energy transfer even further.

Frames for sashes may be constructed from wood, wood clad in aluminium or vinyl, vinyl or fibreglass. Wood is an excellent choice in that it can be cut or trimmed to provide an excellent fit. Wood clad with aluminium or vinyl is an excellent choice in regions with periods of high humidity or damp weather. Vinyl is a great choice for homes in high moisture regions such as on lakes or the seashore. Wood clad and vinyl replacement windows are also low maintenance after the installation.

There are also several options in the glass you will want to consider for your replacement project. You can choose clear or tinted glass. You may even choose leaded and bevelled edge glass or tempered safety glass. In addition to the types of glass, there are a number of films that can be applied to the glass to restrict light and energy radiation as well as to provide greater privacy.

Double pane sashes have the added advantage of cutting down the amount of sound coming from outside the home. This helps reduce traffic noise in high traffic areas.


Planning your replacement installation

When you begin planning your replacement project, spend some time brainstorming the options and the specific benefits you are seeking. How do you want to control light? Ventilation? Is security an issue? How about privacy? Do you want to make the room seem larger?

You will also want to coordinate your windows with the other architectural features of the house. This is called curb appeal. You can dramatically change the appearance of the house as well as its value with the replacement styles you choose.

Finally, be sure to check city building codes to maintain compliance.

Installing replacements or even new installation projects not difficult tasks for a diy. There are numerous books and websites offering step-by-step instructions for just about every window application you can imagine.


Tips on selecting replacement styles

Here are some commonsensical tips to help you select your replacement windows.

Choose high quality products with a reliable warranty. Your new windows can be expected to last 40 or more years. Choose models with low-e glass. In cooler climates, choose either double glazed styles or gas-filled double glazed models for greater energy efficiency. Check the magazine and website reviews about the various kinds of windows. The top brand names come at a price. You may find excellent engineering and craftsmanship in lesser-known brands that will provide you with excellent service for much less money.

The beauty and comfort of your home can be tremendously affected by the replacement windows you choose. Offers to sell discount products by door-to-door or telemarketing salespeople should be considered extremely carefully. Most of these offers end up with the installation of inferior quality replacements at inflated prices. The cost and effect of replacement windows is too great to take unnecessary chances. Take time to consider your needs for lighting, room access, ventilation and appearance. Consult a professional if necessary. The time and effort will be well worth it in selecting the appropriate replacements for your home.

Bobby Carlten is author and designer of http://www.replacement-windows-tips.com. The publisher is also publishing on issues like hurricane protection and window clips.

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