Are you upgrading your windows?

Window replacements can be a smart but expensive investment. To replace one window, you’ll need to spend at least $300 or more, for a basic, weather-efficient slider or picture window in a standard size. Prices can go up dramatically as soon as you add in custom sizes and colors, along with other features. Overall, upgrading your windows is definitely a wise investment. New windows add to your property’s curb appeal, but to get the most out of this upgrade investment, it’s best to understand what’s on offer.

When should I replace windows?

When considering whether or not to replace or repair your home’s windows, first consider the age of the windows.

Quite often, older windows start to crack, warp, or the window sills start to decay. Over time, windows can also lose their integrity, becoming cloudy or showing condensation between the panes. If this is happening, or if your home still boasts a few single-pane windows, then it’s time to consider window replacements.

What types of windows can I get?

When you start to shop for windows, you’re going to be bombarded with a lot of numbers and jargon — some of which are really important. For instance, windows are often advertised based on high/low measurements. High is for high R-value, which determines how well a window prevents heat loss. Low is for low emissivity — or Low-E— a production method that helps the window reflect heated air to the warm side of the glass, so in cold weather, heat stays inside the home and in warm weather, heat stays outside.

Then there’s the aesthetic value of a window. This is how the window looks and functions. Quite often, the best part of shopping for windows is selecting what type to buy. To help, here’s a synopsis of the most popular window types in the market.

Casement windows

Casement windows swing in and out like a door and you operate this motion using a crank. Casement windows are very popular as they offer a high level of ventilation and have a tight seal when closed. This is a great choice for hard-to-reach or awkward places because they’re easier to open.

Double-hung windows

These windows consist of two sashes that move up and down. They are great for ventilation and complement any style of home, and are particularly popular with homeowners who are doing retrofits and upgrades on older homes.

Picture windows

These are the large, fixed (meaning they don’t open) windows that will take up a large wall or act as a focal point in a room. Quite often, a picture window will be flanked by casement or double-hung windows on either side. Because of their big, dramatic shape, picture windows let in lots of natural light and provide unobstructed views — which is why the price tag for these windows is higher. When planning to use a picture window in a room, remember that these windows, by themselves, do not offer ventilation.

Bay windows

Made up of one large fixed window in the middle and a casement on either side, bay windows extend out from the home’s wall and create a pleasing architectural detail on a home. Bay windows are a staple in many Victorian-style homes, but can also be found in any style of home throughout North America. If you’re planning to install a bay window, you will need to talk to a structural engineer, as these windows are quite heavy and often require additional structural support.

What else do I need to know about replacing windows?

To help make your window selection and upgrade easier, here are a few important tips:

  • If you are adding a window where one didn’t exist or enlarging a window where one already existed, then you will need to get a building permit.
  • A window repair is really a less intense window replacement. Rather than remove the entire frame, trim, sashes, and glass, you’ll simply reuse the current frame and replace everything else.
  • Remember, up to 30% of the heating and cooling costs in a home can be lost through old or inefficient windows and doors. As a result, one of the top five questions potential buyers ask when home shopping is whether or not the windows have been upgraded.
  • When replacing windows it can often be cheaper, per window, to replace all the windows in your home, rather than only one or two at a time.
  • Take advantage of municipal, provincial and federal rebates when considering window replacements.
  • The cost of windows is all about materials. The least expensive material is vinyl, which is virtually maintenance free. Next is composite, which is a wood and polymer blend. For slightly more than composite, you could purchase fiberglass windows. Or you really splash out and go to the top-of-the-cost scale with the purchase of wood or wood-clad windows.