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Quality Windows: Our Pointers for Choosing Wisely


Quality Windows: Our Pointers for Choosing Wisely

Windows and doorsQuality Windows: Our Pointers for Choosing Wisely

Choosing quality windows is a must for ensuring home comfort and energy efficiency. It’s important to consider factors like window type, materials used, and manufacturer's reputation. In Quebec, brands, such as Fenplast and Vaillancourt, stand out from the lot. However, other aspects, specific to windows, such as thermal insulation and soundproofing, combined with durability, must be factored into your decision-making. Here are some must-have pointers to help you choose the right windows.

How to Choose the Best Glazing for Quality Windows


Double vs. Triple Glazing: How to Save Energy

The gas (most often argon) found between the two glass panes of double or triple glazing ensures thermal insulation. Albeit it might sound like an easy choice today compared to single glazing, such a gain is still worth quantifying. 

On that account, window manufacturers will often promote product R-value. The latter is representative of the glazing’s heat transfer resistance coefficient. The higher it is, the better the window is, insulation-wise. As such, double glazing normally features an R-value between 3 and 3.8, as opposed to a 7 to 8 for triple glazing. 

The thicker the glass pane, the more insulating the window is. As such, why limit yourself to triple-glazing? Because the higher the glazing count, the thicker the glass pane, meaning less light can filter into your home. As a result, you have to find the sweet spot between heat loss and natural light gain.  

Hi-Tech Glazing: A Game-Changing Innovation

Smart Glass Technology

When it comes to smart glass technology, it isn’t narrowed down to a single type of glazing, but different technologies that were designed to meet specific needs. Some are: 

  • photochromic (guards against the intensity of sun rays); 

  • tinted (appearance-altering); 

  • electrochromic (temperature control). 

Other models are self-cleaning, as you’ll come to find out.

Self-Cleaning Glass

Newly released on the glazing market, self-cleaning glass is made with float glass and coated in a layer of titanium dioxide. Said layer allows to alter the effect of water meeting glass. How, you ask? Photocatalysis. 

Water molecules that come into contact with titanium dioxide transform into hydroxyl radicals, striking dirt in such a way as to ensure the latter is cleaned by rainfall. 

Another advantage of this type of glass is its hydrophilic feature. This means that, unlike standard glazing, it’s hydrophobic. Rainfall won’t leave behind droplets on its surface, but instead an even film. 

However, such glass costs 25% more than standard double-glazing.   

Insulating Glass

All double- or triple-glazing are insulated glazing. However, what greatly matters in regard to the quality of the glazing’s insulation, is the spacer. Indeed, insulating glass is most notably made of the following: 

  • Two to three glass panes

  • Air space (often argon- or Krypton-filled)

  • Spacer 

Said spacer plays a major part in the window’s insulation capacity. This translates into straightforward figures: 

  • Argon performs 31% better against air in terms of thermal conductivity. 

  • There’s a 10% difference between the efficiency of double-glazing with an argon-filled air space compared to a double-glazed air space. 

Why such a difference? Because the spacer will have a direct effect on thermal bridges found near the glazing’s edges. To have a high-performing window, it’s best to bet on a spacer made with two materials (aluminum and stainless steel) rather than one strictly made with aluminum or stainless steel. 

What type of window frame to choose?

proposal for a different window


PVC is, by far, the most affordable solution, yet it so happens to be the most standard-looking, aesthetically speaking. The latter is actually the reason why a lot of homeowners are steering their decision-making toward other materials, such as wood or aluminum. 

Another issue with PVC is its weak structural resistance; it’s twenty-three times less sturdy than aluminum. PVC can’t meet all needs in terms of shape or size.

And that’s not all since for such material to survive the harsh Canadian climate, as well as uphold in terms of hardware (latches, hinges, etc.), such a window frame needs a galvanized steel reinforcing U-plate. Without it, the frame’s durability as well as its proper functioning aren’t guaranteed.  

However, PVC is a much better insulator compared to aluminum and can be a worthwhile purchase if you buy windows that feature to following: 

  • At least four insulated thermal chambers

  • At least two waterproofing joints

  • Several locking points (heavy duty) for additional security

  • Concealed hardware

  • At least a 15-year warranty 

By upholding such precautionary measures, and if you’re not longing for luxury or have particular needs related to custom-made windows, PVC gets the job done. 


Here’s the ultimate, classic material, so much so that wood always turns out good when paired with PVC or aluminum when it comes to retailed windows. Simply so because wood is a luxurious material, one that’s functional and suits most windows, such as the following: 

  • Casement windows

  • Sliding windows

  • Single- or double-hung windows

  • Architectural windows

  • And more

To the above-mentioned window types, one can add a wooden frame, instead of PVC, or aluminum even, as it's unlikely to create condensation (since it doesn’t cool down the same way). However, wood is a lot more high maintenance when compared to PVC or aluminum. 


Aluminum makes for window frames that are:

  • Thin

  • Lightweight

  • Durable

  • Easy to install 

However, aluminum window frames are more expensive than PVC ones and aren’t necessarily made to withstand the harsh Canadian climate. Indeed, since the frames can get quite cold, they can create condensation when exposed to humidity, frosting the interior surfaces of the window frames. 

Pros and Cons of Different Window Types 

roof window



Casement windows

Practical installation; authentic style; open fully; shutters can be installed; affordable prices

Require space (especially if the window opens inward, instead of outward)

Sliding windows

Not cumbersome; panoramic view

Windows can’t be fully opened (overlapping panels)

Single- or double-hung windows

Easy installation; not cumbersome, cozy atmosphere

Waterproofing issues

Architectural windows

Plenty of sunlight; sense of space; gives way to a stunning view; impressive

Steep pricing (aluminum frames and custom-made); requires professional installation; loss of privacy; complex cleaning routine; floor heating might be necessary

Fixed windows

Space gain; great lighting; good soundproofing

Complex outdoor cleaning routine

French patio doors

Reduced cost (bottom rail panel); great lighting

Break-in hazard; PVC frames are fragile

Sliding glass doors

Can be opened all the way; stylish

expensive; hard to install during a renovation (requires wall remodelling)

European tilt-and-turn windows

Perfect for small spaces; not cumbersome when ajar 

Can come out of its axis

Awning windows

Can be opened even when it rains; fosters airflow (indoor airflow from the topside, exterior airflow from the bottom)

Fragile hinges; panel can flap when windy; bothersome when ajar

Tilt-turn windows

Practical; suited to all exterior siding

Fragile hinges

What are the top Quebec-made window brands?

two people installing a window

The province’s South Shore is the ultimate, and most prosperous, corner in terms of window manufacturing. Between Warwick, Thetford-Mines and Drummondville, there are three of the province’s top window manufacturers: 

  • Vaillancourt

  • Fenergic

  • Isothermic

These three have been operating respectively since 1947, 1953, and 1989. To the above-mentioned cities, one can add Verdun and its 10 window retailers spread out through Montréal and its neighbouring suburbs; Solaris Québec has three showrooms (Québec City, Boisbriand, and Brossard); Fenplast in Delson, which we’ll circle back to in more detail in this article. 

As such, from those high-quality Quebec-based window manufacturers, you can purchase your new windows and frames, in any of the three materials above-mentioned, including hybrid windows. 

What are the markers of a high-quality window?


It’s rather straightforward: refer back to its energy-efficiency rating. 

Normally, you will find the following information in the manufacturer-provided documentation:

  • Heat transfer coefficient of a window (Uw)

  • Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC)

  • Energy rating (ER) 

The Uw value only regards the window frame, while the ER value corresponds to the balance between the U-factor and the SHGC. To the aforementioned values, one can also add the glazing’s rating, which only regards the glazing’s efficiency.

On account of such values, you can compare Energy Star-rated windows to choose the best one of all. 

Lastly, knowing that a window has an average lifespan of 20 to 25 years, you can also check its manufacturing date. The latter will be printed on the window’s spacer.

Vaillancourt vs. Fenplast Windows

sofa in front of window

We already mentioned these two companies, but how can these two Quebec-based window manufacturers be distinguished? The longest-standing company is Vaillancourt. It was founded in 1947 in Drummondville, and later opened retailers in: 

  • Lévis 

  • Sherbrooke

In terms of Internet mentions, Vaillancourt has over 200 Google reviews, and an overall 4.3 out of 5 rating.

Fenplast launched in 1989. Its retailers are established in: 

  • Québec City

  • Beauport

  • Charlesbourg 

  • Lévis

  • Montmagny

For example, in Québec City, Fenplast was rated 4.6 out of 5, based on a little under 70 reviews. As such, is Fenplast better than Vaillancourt?

No. If you’re looking to purchase the most efficient windows out there, we highly suggest requesting quotes detailing the energy efficiency of each model. As such, you will be able to make a well-informed decision in terms of quality for each and every proposed window model. 

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Last modified 2024-05-22

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