Tom Shafer

Skip the sales hype, compare these 4 window features

August 03, 2011

When a window salesperson comes to your home, be prepared for a "pitch," a presentation on the window they want you to buy. Then steer the conversation in the direction you need it to go. Look into the following four areas, as you distinguish one window from another.

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1. Appearance

Unlike romance, a sales presentation should start off with appearances. A window of distinction can add curb appeal to your home. Does the window's vinyl frame have a smooth face? It should have some character: some windows are lined, some have a bevel. Character lines help give the window depth, obscure dirt stains and, in general, look richer. You also want to choose a window style that suits the architecture of your home. The salesperson should present a sample window, or the corner section of a competitor's window, so you can compare details of the window features.

2. Drainage

The interior of the window can tell you a lot. Does it have slots to drain water? Is the sill a hollow extrusion, or is it sloped? Do the weep holes have covers to prevent blow back of air into the house? The salesperson should explain how water will escape the window.

3. Insulated glass

Glass is probably the most important part of the window. It should be insulated. Your salesperson may mention Superspacer by Edgetech, Intercept by GED Integrated Solutions or Swiggle. These are just the separators the manufacturer has chosen to use between the layers of glass. All give similar test results. You will find the insulating values visible on the NFRC label. The lower the U-value, the better the insulating properties.

4. Features for operating efficiency

  • Tilt-cleaning. Make sure that the tilt-out cleaning feature on the sash is easy to operate. If it isn't, you will probably never use it. The top and bottom sash may interlock with two "hooks." The purpose of an interlock is to restrict air infiltration. Two pieces of weather stripping on the rails can also serve the same purpose.
  • Weather-stripping. If both areas of the window have weather-stripping, where vinyl meets vinyl, when the window is opened and closed, the windows will have a better seal. The bottom rail on the lower sash may have a piece of weather-stripping that looks like a bulb.
  • Window balances. There are generally two types of window balances to keep the window open: counter balances for the sash weight, or a block and tackle balance, which has a visible string. The spring mechanism is hidden behind the sash. A window with a constant force spring offers quieter operation.
  • Window hardware. Sash locks, lift handles and night locks should be color-coordinated with the vinyl frame.

Window feature comparisons should focus the sales presentation on facts. A story-based pitch generally favors the window your salesperson is representing. Know the difference.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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