They are all the same, right? Framed glass can be opened or unopened. You can stand on either side and look through the view beyond.
What can we say about windows that have any value for homeowners?
When you understand the evolution of windows in home design and cost, there is a lot to consider.
Early homes in this country had no windows. Too expensive and very ineffective.
There may have been a narrow horizontal “rifle slit” on each side covered in leather to allow a view of nature and enemies, but are there large panes of glass? unimaginable.
In the 17th century, even the wealthy used glass with distinction, installing it only in “important” rooms and removing or closing it when not in use.
Today, windows may easily make up 15% to 20% of a home’s exterior wall surface.
It has become so popular as a design element that EECC, the symbol for energy efficiency conservation, has sought to limit its use in construction.
Historically, the purpose of windows was to let in light and keep out weather and creatures. But energy efficiency is becoming a huge part of the consideration along with cost and aesthetics.
While the original construction cost of windows and doors may represent 3% to 5% of the total project, replacing those windows is a costly proposition with many considerations attached.
Jeff Weaver, owner of Clarkston Window and Door in Pontiac, asks if the owner would like to replace the “inner frame” or completely remove and replace the old unit? Most window replacement companies will install a new window inside the old window frame.
With standard sized units mass-produced, this can result in reduced glazing and a smaller viewing area.
Thus, the first consideration should be whether the units are intended for each slot. Remember, with a little care, today’s windows should last 20 to 50 years, and it’s common for those we’re referring to offer a legitimate lifetime warranty that attaches to the home, not the owner.
Another consideration is energy efficiency. The NFRC, the National Legislation and Ratings Board, and Energy Star, both independent third-party groups, provide information on energy efficiency concerns.
The U-factor, a measure of how much heat is transferred by the assembly, is a big consideration. EECC applies a value of 0.30 to windows and doors, which translates to an R value of 3.333. It wasn’t only a few decades ago that single panel glass was the standard and double panel glazing was a “special order”. Today, double pane is standard with options for Low-E coatings or films applied, inert gas such as argon or krypton between the plates, and “Warm-edge” versus “Cold edge” technology in the materials separating the plates.
The frame material in the modern era for the past 150 years has been steel or aluminum, both, durable and strong and both very good at sending heat. The high-quality units use wood frames, and in combination with the aluminum or vinyl exterior cladding has been a luxury option for some. Companies such as J&E Installations in Farmington Hills have two of the most popular wood window brands in Bella and Anderson as well as non-wood options.
In recent years, fiberglass and high-quality vinyl have been promoted as frame options. Vinyl is the most common window frame material in this country. The virgin product, or the product that is used for the first time, is the premium material used.
Window World in Commerce Township offers a lifetime warranty on its virgin vinyl, while Performance Remodeling in Shelby Town offers vinyl and fiberglass units.
Poor quality windows can lose a lot of heat very quickly which creates small drafts in the house near the windows and a poor installation can speed up this problem by allowing a lot of air to seep around the unit.
Keep in mind that a window that loses heat through glass in the winter will gain a lot of heat in the summer, which makes it difficult to keep the house cool and wood floors and fabrics quickly fade.
You should look for a low U value and a low SHGC, the solar heat gain coefficient, which would be one factor, averaged around 0.8. Less is better.
Protective films have proven to be effective, and a better window may contain several of them. But films can affect what we call visible light transmittance, so ask about the VT rating.
You can feel safe using the window companies guys refer and they can all be found at Insideoutsideguys.com.
For housing tips and more, listen to The Inside Outside Guys every Saturday and Sunday at News/Talk 760, WJR-AM, 10 a.m. to noon or call us at insideoutsideguys.com.