Tom Shafer

8 questions to answer about the windows you want

February 05, 2015

So you decided to buy new windows. Great! It's a good investment in your home. You may think now all that's left is to call a contractor or go to a store and find windows the right size, but you actually have plenty of decisions you still need to make. Consider the following:

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  1. What style do you want? You can choose from a double hung window, a slider, a casement…the list goes on and on. You may even decide to do a combination of windows types. Bay and bow windows, for instance, when added to a flat opening gives a house dimension, and an attractive new look, and they look great combined with double hung windows.
  2. No, really. What style do you want? After you've chosen the window type, you'll have several other details to consider. For instance, if you choose double hung windows, now you need to decide if you want them to have equal sashes (the top and bottom panes of glass) or want one to be larger than the other like with cottage style windows. Be sure to ask your contractor about the options available for the window type you've chosen.
  3. What color do you want? If you're choosing vinyl replacement windows, the colors are usually only white and beige. However, many are now available with a selection of painted exterior colors.
  4. What kind of glass? Current Energy Star requirements demand certain u-value and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) standards be met with your windows, and your window glass can help you get there. One way is with glazing - which means how many panes of glass are in the unit. Triple glazed windows have three panes of glass, sometimes with a gas infill to further help with insulation.
  5. What kind of muntins do you want? Muntins - or grids - are the thin strips of wood or metal that divide your window into individual lites. Will it be a traditional crosshatch colonial design, or will it be a prairie, valance, or even a gothic design? Be sure to choose a design that enhances the architecture of your home.
  6. Where will the grids be placed? Most commonly these days the grids are between the two pieces of glass, and they either actually separating the glass into smaller pieces, or are simulated to look that way by being glued on. True divided lights are grids on the exterior of the unit. If they are between the pieces of glass, you can also decide if you'd like them to be flat or to contour.
  7. Do you want a full or half screen? A full screen on a double hung allows for ventilation from the top sash, while a half screen only cover the bottom sash.
  8. Do you need an insulated frame? You can get sprayed in insulating foam inside the window frame. This is not necessary for all regions, so be sure to check how much insulation is needed in your region before making this decision.

It may seem like a lot of small decisions to make for windows, but consider how long you'll have them and what a difference they'll make to the overall appearance of your home. The time you spend researching and choosing these details will be well worth it.

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