The Type ( How does it open? )
- Slide Up and Down – Windows that open vertically are either Single Hung, or Double Hung. The only difference being that with a Double Hung window, the top window can be opened too.
- Slide Left or Right – This is called a sliding window, some manufacturers call it a gliding window.
- Swing on a Hinge – This is called a Casement window If the hinge is on the right or left side. It’s called an awning window if the hinge is on the top.
Pro Tip – Think about possible obstructions to the window opening such as bushes, trees, and furniture. Also consider how it will work with your window treatments.
The Shape (Is it a rectangle or specialty shape?)
- Rectangular – This is the standard type of window. All window manufacturers carry rectangular windows. Many will also custom size them for your window opening.
- Circle, Octagon, Triangle, or other special shape – Only certain brands & product lines come in these shapes. Anything that isn’t rectangular is considered specialty.
Pro Tip – This is important because only certain windows come in specialty shapes, and sometimes even those shapes can be limited.
Be sure to narrow down your choices to a line of windows that can accommodate for any special shapes or sizes you might need.
The Interior Frame ( How will it look inside? )
- Wood – Great! How will it be colored?
- Wood Stain – Most windows will be made out of a common wood and are stained. You can also choose your own stain and have it applied to your new windows
- Wood Species – Optionally, you can choose a wood species and either stain it or have it finished clear!
- Paint – Wood can be easily painted in any color you may desire!
- Fiberglass & Vinyl
Both of these choices are less customizable. They normally come pre-finished and will have a shine to them. The benefit of these materials is super easy cleaning and very little maintenance.
- Other composites
There are some unique composites on the market such as Andersen Fibrex, which can be painted and look more like wood but with the durability of fiberglass and vinyl.
Pro Tip – most windows can be ordered unfinished and customized by either you or the installer. Many window manufacturers also have beautiful pre-finished options.
The Exterior Frame (How will it stand up to the elements & what will it look like?)
Many windows have a different exterior material to consider. For example Andersen 400 series has a wood interior and a vinyl exterior. Andersen A series has a wood interior and a fibrex/fiberglass exterior. Beechworth Windows have a pine wood interior and a fiberglass exterior. Very few wood windows have wood exteriors, because they don’t stand up to the elements as well. Fiberglass and Fibrex are very strong, and vinyl is an affordable low-maintenance option. It’s important to consider what your needs are for your climate and look at the average lifespan of the windows. Color is often a big factor, because most window exteriors come pre-finished and aren’t intended for customizing. Many people looking to add color go with a neutral frame and decorative trim work around the window for color.
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Energy Efficiency (look at the ratings)
- Energy Star – The Energy Star rating is an easy indicator of an energy efficient window. The rating looks at several factors to determine qualification. Learn more here…
- NRFC label – Here’s where you get into the more technical details. This can help you find the most efficient window. The label will state the windows U-Factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, Visible Transmittance, and Air Leakage. You can learn about all of these rating factors here…
Get a free virtual consultation for Naperville or Des Plaines exteriors
Brand Reputation (reputation is everything!)
- Ask around.
- Ask your neighbors.
- Consult the experts.
- Look at reviews.
- What does the company guarantee?
Pro Tip – Read the warranty – How long do they support it? What limitations are there? Does your contractor or dealer add any additional assurances or warranties?
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