Ultimate Window Replacement Guide
What Homeowner Should Know About Replacement Windows
Replacement Windows for Your D.C. Metro Home
Replacement windows increase your enjoyment of your home, help you feel safe and confident, and increase your home’s value.
But there are so many kinds of home windows to choose from these days. Do you want fiberglass or wood frames? Do you like the look of picture windows, double hung or maybe bay? And what’s a trustworthy brand?
With so many residential window materials and styles available, how do you know what will fit your needs best? It quickly can become overwhelming when you’re looking for the perfect home windows for you.
If it’s time to shop for replacement windows and you aren’t sure where to begin, this guide is the place to start. We’ll explore all the ins and outs of choosing replacement windows and the installation process.
Top Advantages of High-Performance Replacement Windows
There are many benefits of replacement windows that will let you enjoy your home more than ever. And the longer you ignore faulty residential windows, the bigger a problem they become.
Here are the most important benefits of replacement windows you are probably missing out on but deserve to enjoy:
Reduced energy consumption and costs. Today’s home windows are designed to be energy efficient. This means they keep the temperature in your home stable without overworking your HVAC system. This decreases your energy bill and is good for the environment!
Protection from UV rays. New windows let in natural light while blocking the ultraviolet rays that fade furnishings and surfaces in your home.
Enhanced curb appeal. Nothing updates the look of your home inside and out like new, modern windows. Replacement windows let you pick styles and materials that create a custom aesthetic you love.
Easier maintenance. Windows can be challenging to clean. Many models today come with easy-clean features to make this task easier.
Less outside noise. Live on a busy street? You won’t notice the noise with new noise-reducing windows! Finally, some real peace and quiet.
More light. If you have ugly or drafty windows, you probably prefer to keep them covered up. With new windows, you finally can throw back the curtains and light up your home.
Better home security. Residential windows are a common entry point for home intruders. Protect your home and family with new windows outfitted with security features like tempered glass and strong locks.
Increased home value. Replacement windows have a high return on investment when you sell your home. Homebuyers know the value of newer windows and are willing to pay the right price for a D.C. home with recently replaced windows.
If your home windows aren’t enhancing your home, it is time to replace them.”
Know the Signs of Damaged Residential Windows That Need Replacing
Windows don’t last forever and will eventually suffer damage. But how do you know when window damage is serious enough to require replacement windows?
Drafty windows. Feeling a breeze lately? If your windows are letting outside air in, it’s time for new ones.
Window leaks. Water never should come in a closed window. If you see a trickle inside when it rains, you’re sure to have water damage soon unless you get a window replacement.
Cracked Windows. Cracked windows look terrible and are dangerous. One small impact, and they can shatter.
Weatherstripping damage. If you notice condensation in your windows, you probably have failing seals. Damaged weatherstripping lets moisture in and releases the protective gas between your window panes.
Rot. Old wood windows that experience moisture damage often begin to rot, making them unsightly and odorous.
Mold and mildew. In addition to rot, damaged windows can develop mold and mildew, which are dangerous for your family to breathe in.
Stuck windows. It’s frustrating when windows are no longer aligned and stick when you try to open or close them.
Your New Home Windows and Their Energy Efficiency
You can reduce energy costs by installing energy-efficient windows in your home.
U-Factor is the rate at which your window allows non-solar heat flow. This means how much heat is lost or gained when there’s NOT direct sunlight shining through the window. The lower the U-Factor, the more energy efficient the window is.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient is how much heat is released in your home as a result of sunshine. The lower your SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits and the more energy efficient your window is
Air Leakage is the rate of movement around your window. A window with a low Air Leakage rating has a tighter seal that one with a high rating.
Visible Transmittance is the measurement of how much visible light your window lets in. Higher Visible Transmittance scores mean that your window allows more light into your home than a product with a lower Visible Transmittance scores
Energy Efficient Windows Start with Installation
Windows are a great opportunity to update your home aesthetic while enhancing its physical structure – a winning combination which will make a clear difference!
Here’s the exact process you can expect:
1. Preparing For Your New Window
All of our windows are custom-ordered – which means that we will measure the space multiple times to ensure that we get the best fit possible. Ordering custom windows in this way achieves two goals:
- The window is created to your exact specifications so you can always count on receiving exactly what you want
- The window is fitted specifically to your space so the seal will be as tight as possible, increasing its energy efficiency
At this time, our consultant will also review the property you have near and around your window and advise you of what needs to be removed from the area to prevent breakage. As a policy, any fragile or valuable items will be removed by you only, to prevent any damage to your items.
2. Removing Your Existing Window
Our team will remove the existing window carefully, taking with it any trim that’s on the inside of your home. We will save the trim for reuse after the window is installed, unless it becomes broken or is unusable. The old window, unusable trim, and any debris will be cleaned up and disposed of carefully.
Our team will inspect the opening for moisture, mold, mildew or rot. If we find any, we will alert you and discuss a plan for replacement of the rotted materials. Additionally, we will give you the opportunity to perform a visual inspection.
Next, we will use low-rise spray insulation around the area to increase your home’s energy efficiency and prevent any air from leaking into your home.
3. Installing Your New Window
We will set the window into the opening using appropriate fasteners to keep it there permanently.
After this, we will spray more low-rise foam insulation around the window to create a more airtight seal. In addition, we use caulk around the outside trim to ensure that it’s weatherproof.
We will replace the interior trim with new material or the materials we saved and ensure that it’s sealed and installed tightly.
Outside, our team will bend a piece of aluminum coil around the existing wood trim to match the window. This coil protects the wood so that it doesn’t rot or chip and also creates a beautiful finished look. We finish the outside with an exterior-grade caulking to aid in weatherproofing your newly installed window.
4. Your New Window Is Guaranteed
ALCO stands behind not only the workmanship we provide, but the products we use.
If your new window is still under manufacturer’s warranty and there is a defect with the materials, ALCO will provide labor free of charge to repair or replace the product that we installed.
Additionally, any product we install on or in your home will be free of defect due to faulty workmanship for the lifetime of the product’s manufacturer warranty.
That means if you need your window(s) repaired or replaced because of something ALCO or the manufacturer did, we’ll come and do the work for free.
Choose the Best Window Style and Design Options for Your Home
Choosing a window for your home means deciding what function you want your window to have as well as the look that you want to achieve. The types of windows available today versus even 15 years ago has expanded, which means you have more options for your home than ever before.
These windows are ideal when you want low-maintenance windows that are easy to clean. These windows withstand the elements and do not require repainting on the inside or outside. They offer the best heat and sound insulation of all window types that we offer. Many of our customers love the ease of these windows.
The best of both worlds, combination windows offer the beauty of wood on the interior and the hassle-free maintenance of vinyl on the exterior. Our customers that opt for the combination window do so because they want to achieve a certain look but don’t want to expose wood to the elements.
Once seen as a specialty product fiberglass windows have quickly gained popularity. The reason is quite simple; fiberglass is a strong material, which out performs most materials. Windows made from fiberglass won’t bend easily and flex less. Window strength is important because it prevents windows seals from breaking, or operating properly and prevents the expansion and contraction of a window compromising their structural ability.
Windows have traditionally been made of wood for years, and it’s still a popular choice. These windows can be stained, painted, or treated with only oil – so they’re very versatile and fit into any decorating style. Wood windows do require more maintenance than vinyl, but many of our customers have found that the extra maintenance is worth it!
Double Hung Windows
Double Hung Windows are the most common replacement window type in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
The main characteristic of double-hung windows is that both the top and bottom sashes (both parts of the window) are able to open. This is especially helpful when you want to open the top window to protect children and animals, or simply to change the airflow throughout your home. Additionally, the top sash will tilt-in for easy cleaning – a must-have on the second or higher floor of your home.
This also allows you to leave your windows open in the rain, provided the wind isn’t driving the rain against that particular wall of your home. Because they are flush with the side of your home, they still offer a small measure of protection from the elements even when they’re open, unlike other styles of window like hopper or casement windows.
Double hung windows come in many different materials – like vinyl, fiberglass, metal and wood – although vinyl is the most common type of replacement window.
Double Hung Windows Offer Many Options for Energy Efficiency
You can find these windows with Argon, Xenon or Krypton gas filling in between the panes (Argon gas increases the R-Value by ½ point or more, where the R-rating is the measurement of thermal resistance or how little heat the window allows to pass through. The higher the R-rating, the more efficient the window.)
Traditional double-paned windows have between 2.0 and 3.0 R-Rating.
If your home has views that you want to see unobstructed, a picture window is your best option. But no longer are these simple panes of glass with little to no design (although those are still available if you prefer a blank canvas!)
Now, you can find picture windows with double panes and grid designs – which not only enhances the design element, it also makes the window easy to replace should a pane become chipped or broken.
This new design also increases the energy efficiency of the windows, as the double panes provide more insulation than a single pane window.
The downside of picture windows is that they are non-opening windows – this means that they will not add to the ventilation of your space, and they must be cleaned from the outside using a ladder or extending brush.
When you’re choosing a picture window, you’ll want to choose one with a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), which measures the amount of heat from the sun that your windows block.
Because your picture window is likely to be in a place where your interest is in preserving the view, you don’t want to rely on heat and light blocking drapery, especially when your window can be used to reduce that energy loss.
This is accomplished by changing the Low E Glass Formula to either increase or decrease SHGC. A good number to strive for, especially for west-facing windows that receive the brunt of afternoon sun, is 0.25 SHGC.
Design Options for Your New Picture Window
Picture windows do not carry any hardware – as they don’t open. However, you can choose finishes both interior and exterior to meet your specifications – and in many cases, you can paint your window to match your aesthetic.
Casement windows are windows that swing out using a crank mechanism. They’re best suited for areas where the window will not obstruct decks, patios or walkways.
Casement windows come in multiple materials, including vinyl, metal and wood, and can easily be customized to fit any design aesthetic you desire. Additionally, you can get windows without the muntins (the bars in between your windows) or with the muntins, depending on your preferences.
The hardware on these windows can change the way your window looks and help you match your existing décor even more – the cranks are available in multiple finishes straight from the manufacturer, or you can find replacement cranks online to match your exact aesthetic.
Casement windows are the only window type that will allow you to open the entire window – which is ideal if your home doesn’t have central air conditioning or even if you simply like the feeling of having your windows completely open.
Additionally, you can take advantage of side breezes that happen if your home sits at a specific angle that doesn’t permit the wind to come in through traditional windows. For homes that are built very close together, this is a great way to take advantage of the breezes that come through that small space.
Casement Windows are Highly Energy Efficient
Casement windows offer excellent protection against air infiltration because the wind outside actually presses the window up against its seals – which means the rate of drafts and energy loss through a loose seal is greatly reduced. Casement windows are generally recognized as one of the best windows in regard to air loss.
When you’re looking at Air Leakage Ratings (AL Rating), you want to choose the lowest AL Rating possible for your budget. This is the measure of the rate of air leakage through the window in the presence of a specific pressure difference. Not all companies measure and publish the AL Rating, but those that choose to measure it are required to have a rating of 0.3 or lower.
Lastly, casement windows are difficult to break into because of the shape of their latches – casement windows have hooked-shaped latches instead of straight-screw latches like double-hung windows. If security is a big concern, you may want to consider casement windows as a solution for you.
Sliding windows are just that – they slide from side to side in order to open them. They run along a track, much like sliding glass doors. They don’t require a lot of dexterity to open them, which makes them a good solution for most homes.
Slider windows are more durable than other styles, as well, because of their construction. Instead of relying on springs and pulleys, slider windows run on a track and use simple mechanics that won’t fail as quickly over time. These windows have multiple options with the size of the windows, the number and style of panes, and the materials with which it’s constructed. You can choose from multiple colors and finishes – which means you’ll be sure to find a sliding window to meet your needs.
When you’re considering energy efficiency, you’ll want to consider the Air Leakage Rating (AL Rating) in addition to the U-Factor (the measurement of how well your window prevents heat from escaping in general.) Generally speaking, the lower the rating (both U-Factor and AL Rating), the more energy efficient your product is.
Bay & Bow Windows
If you’re thinking about installing a large window in your living space, consider a bay or bow window. Both styles will provide you with expansive views, as the windows themselves are larger than most standard double hung, casement, or slider windows. These windows will give you the view that a picture window provides, but with the ventilation and cleaning options of a double-hung window.
Additionally, this style of window will make the room appear larger than it really is because of its bowed construction.
Bay & Bow Windows: Enriching Your Home and Enlarging Your Space
This style of windows helps to make your room appear larger with physically more space, but can also give a design element that your home is missing – a ledge or windowsill. These windows in a kitchen, for instance, provide space for an herb garden; in the living room, a cozy spot for the family cat; in your home office a place to display your prized family photos.
Bay windows are a series of 3 windows of varying sizes. The window in the center is typically the largest of the three windows, and the angle is typically sharper than a bow window.
Bow windows are a series of five or six windows, all of the same size. The size and number of the windows allows the entire piece to bow more gradually than the bay windows, which gives it a curved appearance rather than the sharp lines of the bay window. Bow windows also tend to require more hardware than a bay window, which is a consideration if you want a completely unobstructed view.
Bay & Bow Window Energy Options
Bay and bow windows, because of the multiple options with layout and design, offer varied degrees of energy efficiency. When you’re choosing your window, consider the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), as you’re not likely to cover this large area with heat and light blocking drapery. The SHGC is used to measure how well windows block heat that radiates into your home from the sun.
This is especially important if your window is located on the east or west-facing side of your home. This is where the sun is strongest – west giving you afternoon sun, east giving you morning sun – and these sides of your home are typically more difficult to control heat and temperature fluctuations without the use of drapery.
SHGC is measured on a scale from 0 to 1, and the lower the number, the less solar heat is transmitted into your home. On the west-facing side of your home, strive for an SHGC of about 0.25 to prevent the summer sun from raising your energy use substantially.
Bay & Bow Windows Can Increase The Value of Your Home
Both Bay and Bow windows are said to increase the value of your home, and many homebuyers say that the window is the first thing they notice when they tour a property. Many ALCO clients who have this type of window installed say they only wish they’d done it sooner!
Basement windows are unique in the home, mostly because of their location. They’re often located very close to the ground, and sometimes are even partially or fully underground in a window well.
Although it’s sometimes filtered, basement windows can provide a measure of natural lighting where you would otherwise rely on artificial lighting. Basement windows can also provide a source of ventilation for temperature or to clear a room of fireplace smoke and heat. They also increase the value of your home.
Basement windows are typically sliding windows – opening from side-to-side and with very little mechanical parts – and are very durable. You will also see hopper (open from the top of the sash) and awning (open from the bottom of the sash) depending on your window’s location and what’s best for your home.
What Energy Efficient Measurements Should You Look For In Your Basement Windows?
As basement windows typically aren’t getting a lot of light and wind is not often a factor, you don’t have to worry about the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient or Air Leakage ratings the way you do with windows on main and second floors.
For your basement windows, you should look for windows that meet your needs in regard to the U-Factor. The U-Factor measures how well your window prevents heat from escaping (or entering ) your home. Typical ratings are between 0.2 and 1.2 btu/h per square foot.
If your basement is a common gathering place for your family and you require more efficiency from your windows, you’ll look for the lower U-factor. (The lower the U-factor, the greater the window’s resistance to heat transfer.)
We Can Help You Choose The Right Window to Prevent Water Penetration in Your Home
Most manufacturers offer energy efficiency packages that combine several methods of insulation and protection – from insulating glass units, multiple panes, and the introduction of Argon or Krypton gas in between the window panes.
Basement windows, like all windows, are not impervious to flooding, so extra care should be taken if your windows are below grade or using window wells. When you work with ALCO, we can help you ensure that your window-wells drain properly to prevent water intrusion.
A hopper window is hinged at the bottom and opens at the top inward, and is most often found in basements because of the ventilation they offer and the amount of light being let in from only one sash.
Energy Efficiency of Hopper Windows
Hopper windows, like casement windows, have a seal that increases when wind pushes up against it, which means that your Air Leakage (AL) rating is not as much a consideration as other ratings.
The main rating to be concerned with is the U-Factor – the measurement of how much or little heat is lost through your window. . Typical ratings are between 0.2 and 1.2 btu/h per square foot, and the lower the U-Factor, the less heat is lost through the window.
Why Choose Hopper Windows for Your Home?
Generally speaking, you’ll want to choose a window with the lowest U-Factor possible for your design aesthetic and your budget.
Hopper windows work like casement windows with a crank mechanism to open and close them. It’s possible to open these windows completely as long as nothing is in the way of the window’s design.
The cranks, like casement windows, also offer an additional design element that can be tailored to meet your home’s aesthetic. The cranks are available in different styles and finishes, either from the manufacturer or after installation. ALCO can help you find these details during the project.
These windows are also extremely easy to clean because they open inward.
In some instances, you can pair a hopper window with picture windows or casement windows to meet your design aesthetic – and hopper windows are available in a variety of materials, finishes and colors to match your home.
Like a bay window, garden windows extend slightly from the house, although they’re typically smaller than bay windows. Garden windows have an interior ledge that’s designed to hold flowers, herbs, or other plants – and the window’s shape is designed to capture more sunlight for those plants to thrive.
In addition to the deep design, garden windows have side venting windows that allow air in when opened. These side windows are casement windows, which allow for a tight seal and heightened security (as casement windows are difficult to open from the outside.)
Garden Windows are Designed to Mimic a Greenhouse – A Consideration for Energy Needs
Garden window’s design comes directly from the concept of a greenhouse – the sun’s heat is captured through the glass and the area inside is heated moreso than in a traditional window. Garden windows are most effective with the R-value (the measurement of how well a window blocks heat transfer) lower than other windows.
You can find garden windows in many different materials and finishes, the most popular being a vinyl window because of its ability to avoid rot and its low maintenance requirements. Additionally, vinyl has a greater resistance to condensation, which is especially a consideration if you’re growing more tropical-style plants.
Some people choose a garden window for the aesthetic value rather than the ability to grow plants – in this case, there are many options for energy efficient windows like low E glass and Argon insulation. These options will reduce the impact the sun’s heat has on your home.
When choosing a location for your garden window, the same consideration should be taken as with bay or bow windows – as garden windows extend from the side of your home, they can interfere with walkways, patios and other high-traffic areas.
Storm windows can be installed on both the interior and exterior of the primary window, and are made of a variety of materials. Some storm windows, like those made of laminated glass offer a high degree of resistance to breaking during storms or from intruders, while others’ primary function is to reduce the airflow from outside and to reduce your energy costs.
Storm windows are ideal in historic environments where the windows serve to maintain history and in apartment or rental situations where replacing the window isn’t an option.
Storm windows not only protect your home from the elements, but the window as well. This is helpful again in historic environments where the window is an architectural part of your home.
Storm windows come in a variety of materials, from aluminum to vinyl, and can be customized to meet your home’s aesthetic needs.
Another application of storm windows is in the increase of energy efficiency throughout your home. Low-emissivity (low-e) windows are coated with an ultra-thin, virtually invisible layer of metal that reflects infrared heat back into your home.
This means that installing storm windows on your home in the winter will allow you to retain more of your home’s heat, reducing your energy loss and potentially decreasing your energy bill by 12-30%.
However, there are risks of condensation building between your original window and the storm window. In order to minimize this risk, ALCO can ensure that your original window is as air-tight as possible before installing your new storm windows.
Egress windows are designed to allow safe exit from a basement bedroom in case of emergency. They are required by building code in order to allow someone to live in your basement, or list a basement bedroom as a bedroom during resale.
No matter what the specific code in your city, an egress window must meet the International Residential Code Criteria:
- Minimum width of opening: 20 in.
- Minimum height of opening: 24 in.
- Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft. (5.0 sq. ft. for ground floor).
- Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.
If you’re installing an egress window in a basement, your best option will be a casement window. These windows open fully so you can meet the space requirements with a smaller window overall.
At ALCO, we’ll work with you to determine what the code for your area is and how you can meet that code with your window choices. We’ll help you design a window to meet your aesthetic requirements and home décor needs.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Windows in My D.C. Metro Home?
Factors that may affect your window replacement cost, such as:
How many windows
Single-, double- or triple-panes
How much labor is required
Replacement windows are an investment. Just like any worthwhile investment has a cost, an investment should have a valuable return as well. Windows are no different. It is estimated that replacement windows can recoup as much as 80 percent of your costs by adding to your home’s value. That’s an excellent ROI!
For the best return on your investment, install what future homebuyers want: energy-efficient windows. Homebuyers know the incredible energy savings they’ll get from energy-efficient windows.
A replacement window is a window that is installed in an existing window opening as a replacement to the existing window. Over time, old windows deteriorate, becoming inefficient and drafty. Replacement windows exist so you can change the window without having to remove all of the existing trim.
Low-E is a glass coating which light can pass through freely. When added to the glass surfaces of windows & doors, Low-E provides greater energy efficiency, increased comfort and protection from the damage of UV rays. Low-E also reduces a window’s U-Value and increases its R-Value.
Our window installers have years of experience and are factory trained to insure quick & successful installations. Most of our window installations can be completed in a day since all of our windows are custom measured and sized in the field. This speeds up the installation, eliminating errors which cause delays. If an installation takes longer it could be due to weather conditions or the volume of windows that need to be installed.
There is not set price of the cost of replacement windows. You must take into account the number of windows replaced, their size, what style of window & which type of window. Are they premium energy star rated, do they have special energy efficient glass coating? All these factors account for the cost of new replacement windows and their installation and the benefits they provide long term.
Energy Star is part of the United States government program that created guidelines to establish the energy efficiency of various products including windows & doors. It should be noted that over the past years Energy Star directions have helped double the efficiency of windows that meet their standards.
Many old windows are single pane, today replacement windows come in double or triple pane glass with Low-E glass coatings. The addition of glass panes provide a greater barrier to ensure a windows efficiency. An efficient window uses less energy which lowers energy bills.
Glazing options maximize a windows energy efficiency, they can also reduce outside noise and the damaging effect of UV Rays. Options range from the single-glazed glass found in historic homes, to double or triple insulated glass with Low-E coatings & argon gas filled insulated airspace for excellent energy efficiency
Grilles on windows form a decorative pattern on a window or door by dividing the glass into smaller panes which form a design.
It is important when selecting a window or door to look for information that lists the products U-value & R-value. U-values illustrate the amount of heat that escapes through a wall, window or roof. You want to look for windows that have a low U-value because it means they are more energy efficient. R-values are the direct opposite, they portray an objects resistance to the ability for heat to flow. In essence the higher a materials R-value, the lower its U-value which means it loses less energy. R-values actually depend on the number of layers of glass a window has, what type of gas is between the glass layers and whether they have been treated with a Low-E coating.
When choosing a window contractor make sure they are licensed & bonded. Check out the professional organizations them below too. How long have they been in business & what type of training have their installers gone through. Get references and check them out. Quite simply make sure they are professional, do they show up on time for appointments, are they respectful of your home, do they give you a written proposal and never give them money up front. Also, check for complaints from the BBB or your county consumer protection.
These are windows with glass that has been strengthened so when it is struck with a forceful object like a tree branch the glass will resist shattering. Impact resistant glass is recommended for homeowners who live in coastal areas prone to strong storms & hurricanes or live by a golf course. Though some people chose impact resistant glass for sound reduction if they live on heavily trafficked communities or for the extra security they provide.
Hiring a Replacement Window Contractor
If you want the very best replacement windows and a smooth installation process as well, you need an exceptional window installer.
When you hire a reputable replacement window contractor, you can be confident that you’ll receive:
- Quality materials
- Fine craftsmanship
- Long-lasting windows
- Guidance through the installation process
- Valuable warranties
- Personalized customer service
- All the benefits of new windows
Sound good? Now all you have to do is find a replacement window company that provides all of that. You can search online or in the phonebook for a window installer or ask acquaintances for referrals. Make a list of at least four promising contractors to investigate.
You can learn a lot about contractors from their online presence and customer reviews, but it’s a good idea to contact each one and talk to them personally. Here are some questions to ask any window installer you are considering:
- Are you local?
- How long have you worked in the D.C. area?
- Are you licensed to work in the D.C. area?
- How much experience do you have with window installation?
- Can you provide proof of insurance?
- Can you give me a price estimate for the replacement windows I want?
- Can you provide references from previous jobs?
- What is your workmanship warranty?
- How do you handle client complaints?
Once you have their answers, pick the replacement window company that is local, has relevant experience, can give you a detailed estimate and warranty information, and has excellent client references.
This research takes work, but you’ll be glad you took the time to find a great window installer when you see the superior results in your replacement windows!