When choosing windows for your home, it’s important to research all of the different types and their associated benefits. Though all windows serve a few common functions, such as letting in light while keeping out rain and wind, they also vary in many ways. For example, some do a better job ventilating your home while others may simply fit a desired aesthetic. Learn about the major types of windows and other important factors to consider when choosing the right window for your home:
Learning window styles
The most common types of windows include awning, bay, casement, picture, single- or double-hung, and sliding. All of these offer varying degrees of airflow, insulation, opening convenience, ease of maintenance, and decorative appeal. For example, picture windows are typically used to provide a large, open view of the exterior, but because they do not open, they are best used in areas where airflow is not important. Additionally, professional civil engineer Juan Rodriguez writes, “picture windows are less prone to air leakage than operable windows, but their large glass panes can lose or gain a lot of heat.” All other types of windows come with their own unique sets of advantages and drawbacks, so make sure to work closely with a remodeling expert to choose the right windows for your home before settling on a purchase.
Selecting a frame material
New window frames are most commonly available in wood, aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass. Choosing the right frame for your windows is important because it will impact the cost of the windows as well as their heat transfer performance. Wood provides some of the best insulation but also require more maintenance, especially in rainy or humid climates. According to DIY expert Timothy Dahl, “they offer a classic look, so for an older home to retain its original style, wood windows are often the only option.” Aluminum frames are more prone to losing or transferring heat, but are much sturdier and thus well suited for hurricane-prone areas. Vinyl is typically a low-maintenance, low-cost option that insulates almost as well as wood. Fiberglass is similar to vinyl, but stronger and more expensive. There are other, less common types of materials available for your window frames, so as with the window style, make sure to work with a professional to determine the best frame material for your home.
Choosing the right glass
Just as it’s important to pick the right window style and window frame, choosing the right glass also matters. According to Consumer Reports, while shopping for glass, you should look for high R-values and low U-values. The former is a measure of insulation performance while the latter is a measure of energy efficiency. Glass panes are offered with various features that impact these values. For example, low-emissive coating is a transparent, heat-reflecting material applied to the glass. “The coating is applied to the outside of glass in warmer climates to reflect the sun’s heat out,” says Consumer Reports. “In colder areas, it’s applied to the inside glass to keep heat in.” This helps improve the window’s R-value. A double-pane window with low-emissive coating and vacuum-sealed argon filling will have excellent insulation properties.
Windows play an important role in making your house feel like home. They can also offer financial benefits in the form of lower energy costs. Work closely with a professional to ensure you get the perfect windows — the ones that look just right while providing excellent insulation and light in every room.