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Last modified: 2022-11-23 | Approximate reading time 5 mins
Windows are quite possibly one of, if not the, most important element of decor within a home. This is because windows help to let in natural light which completely transforms the ambiance of any space.
But with all the various types and materials how should you go about choosing windows for your home? You can start by using this guide to help break down everything you should know about selecting windows for your house.
For the uninitiated, here are some terms that are related to windows and their installation. First off, there are two major categories of windows: those for new constructions and those for replacement. The main difference between the two is that windows for new constructions have a rim for securing them in the wall opening, also known as a nailing fin.
Since replacement windows already have an anchor within the wall, they are much easier to install as they just have to be fitted into the opening. However, if the existing frame also needs replacement, this is when windows for new constructions become the best option for the long term. A window sash refers to the moveable panel(s).
Windows that can’t be opened are referred to as fixed and those that can open are called operable. The sheet of glass within the window is called a pane while the process of securing the glass within the frame is glazing.
When trying to determine the right style of window for your home, there are several factors to consider. Before you make any decisions, consider the importance of ventilation, privacy, security and of course ease of maintenance. Above all else is the cost: remember that replacing all windows in your home can be costly so it is fundamental to budget accordingly.
While there are many options for your home, we will discuss the most common window solutions.
These are a very classical option and can have operable upper and lower panels. Opening the window at both the top and bottom can allow for warmer air to leave out the top while cool air flows through the lower opening. Double-hung windows also tend to tilt inwards when open, which is very convenient for cleaning, especially on upper floors.
These windows have almost the same appearance as double-hung ones, however, only the lower opening is operable. While they deliver the same look, for the most part, they do not ventilate the room more than double-hung windows. If effectively ventilated rooms are what you’re seeking, this may not be the best option.
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These are the ones that slide horizontally between tracks on the top and bottom of the panes. This option is quite common in more recent constructions since it allows you to open the window halfway for ventilation. Sliding windows are a great simple option and are easy to open, as well as easy to maintain.
Accent windows are most often those which serve a purely decorative purpose. They can usually be found around a door or on the upper part of a wall with aesthetic designs or simply to let more light in. Accent windows, however, are generally fixed in place and do not open for ventilation.
Casement windows are attached to the frame with hinges and are opened by turning a lever. While they can be installed singly, casement windows really brighten up a space when installed in pairs. Installing casement windows in multiples can be quite ideal as they will fill the room with tons of natural light while being great for ventilation and very easy to clean.
Bay windows are unique and require a bit more planning and space since they’re not the simplest endeavour. Bay windows protrude from the house and creating a space outside of the main walls, forming a bay within the room.
This type of window very much illuminates the space while also giving you more interior space to place extra seating near the window. Lastly, this type of installation usually consists of a fixed window anchored by either double-hung or casement windows on either side.
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Window frames today are made from a wide array of materials that include wood, aluminum, vinyl or even a combination of any two of these.
Aluminum frames are known for their durability as well as being thin, light and easy to install. Aluminum is quite easy to maintain, corrosion-resistant, and the least expensive frame material. Due to these features, aluminum is recommended for replacement windows. It is very important to remember that in cold climates like those across Canada, aluminum can get cold enough to condense moisture or produce frost on the inside surfaces of the window frame.
Wood is probably the most common frame material due in large part to its wide variety of looks and the overall aesthetic value it adds, especially from the interior perspective. Wood doesn’t conduct cold and is less conducive to condensation than the other window frame materials. It is also important to note that wood windows often come unfinished, making that another task to consider.
Clad-wood delivers all the beautiful interior benefits of wood while also using a tough, low-maintenance aluminum jacket on the exterior. This cladding covers the window frame to keep it protected from the elements, ensuring no rust or rot while making it almost maintenance-free. This makes clad-wood frames ideal for new construction.
Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are some of the most common materials for replacement windows. This is because they are very durable, impact-resistant and filled with hollow chambers that help dissipate the heat and condensation.
Remember when choosing the material of the window, it is ideal to aim for something which matches the original look so as not to stand out and look out of place.
Many windows are single pane or single glaze, meaning that there is only one piece of glass acting as a barrier between the interior and exterior of your home. Double pane or double glazing refers to using 2 pieces of glass with some air or gas in between to act as an insulating barrier.
This insulating barrier reduces heat loss, noise, and condensation while increasing wind load and water resistance. While double glazed windows cost more upfront, the savings are significant in the long run because it is such an energy-efficient option.
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Of course, windows aren’t meant to last forever so if you start to notice condensation on or in the pane, this is a definite sign your window(s) need to be replaced. Other signs to keep watch for are drafts coming through, meaning the window's impermeability has been compromised. Rot or moulding around the frame is a sure indication that the window should be replaced immediately or risk further repairs.
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Author: David Ben-Zaken
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