Hidden disadvantages of perfectly affordable windows

July 11, 2011

Although Remodeling Magazine's "Cost vs. Value Report 2010-11" indicates that the cost recouped for window replacement dropped slightly from 2009-10, it's still in the top 10 mid-range remodeling projects nationwide, with vinyl windows coming in at No. 2 and wood at No. 5 in upscale remodeling projects. There are two factors, however, that can affect the window installation cost of your remodeling project:

Find Window Experts Fast

How soon do you want to begin this project?

  1. type of window--casement, single- or double-hung
  2. type of window frame--vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, wood

Before you look for the perfect price point, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the most affordable types of windows.

Pros and cons of least expensive window types

Of the most popular standard windows, single-hung are least expensive, then double-hung, with casement coming in at top dollar. Casement windows provide the most ventilation and greatest energy efficiency. Double-hung windows, however, also provide excellent ventilation, as well as these advantages:

  1. easy to open and close
  2. take up less space in a room
  3. easy to clean, particularly if there's a tilt feature
  4. easy to install without removing the entire frame

However, double-hung windows are less energy efficient than casement windows, and you can only open one half at a time. Single-hung windows don't provide the same level of ventilation that either double-hung windows or casement windows do.

Pros and cons of least expensive window frames

Vinyl, aluminum, vinyl and aluminum clad wood, fiberglass and wood frames are your options. Vinyl is the least expensive option followed by aluminum. Here are the pros and cons of the three most affordable types of window frame materials:

  1. Vinyl. Vinyl windows are easy to install and maintain, customizable, resistant to weather damage, durable and available in double and triple panes. However, vinyl-framed windows can be susceptible to condensation and many find them less attractive than wood window frames.
  2. Aluminum. Aluminum windows have a high thermal efficiency rating, although they are not as energy efficient as other frame options. They are resistant to moisture, control noise and require little maintenance. Aluminum is an excellent choice for large windows because it's strong yet lightweight. Recent developments in thermally-improved aluminum frames have increased the energy efficiency.
  3. Vinyl and aluminum clad wood. These frames are slightly more expensive but provide the interior beauty of wood with the exterior benefits of vinyl and aluminum frames.

Finding the perfect price point for affordable windows

Precision Windows in Michigan recommends the following reasonably low cost option, "white, vinyl single hung windows with Low-E and Argon, installed with aluminum capping is a price point winner. They look good, function well, and cost about $350 for the average size window including installation."

However, if you add triple pane glass, Krypton gas, split color (inside and out), the cost can double. If you go for casement windows with fiberglass frames, split color, triple pane and Krypton gas, the cost can triple. Hopefully, you can work with your windows dealer to find the perfect price point where you have the features you need, the price you want and the most reasonable window installation cost.


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