Get the Right Windows
Three basic steps to make sure you’re up to date with the changing window market.
Synopsis: Asa Christiana details the three basic steps when it comes to choosing windows: choosing function, material, and glass. He outlines the different types of windows, from tilt-turns to fixed-frames to swingers and sliders, along with details of the performance pros and cons of each. He describes relative costs of different materials from vinyl to aluminum to fiberglass, composites, and wood, along with their durability and popularity. Finally he discusses glazing, including the use of double-pane vs. triple-pane and the prevalence of low-e glass. The article also breaks down a ratings label for window glass and what the various numbers mean, from U-factor to solar heat-gain coefficient (SHGC) to air leakage (AL).
Whether you’re building or remodeling, you’ve got one good shot at getting the shell of the house right. In terms of energy efficiency, windows are always the weakest link in the building envelope. So it pays to make a wise choice. Windows also have a big effect on the way a house looks, feels, and functions.
Contrary to popular belief, your builder or local window dealer might not be the best source of information. Most builders’ main incentive is to keep things straightforward and minimize risk, so they tend to stick with the same suppliers. Window dealers also have established relationships, limiting your product selection. More than ever, it pays to hire an architect or designer, who will be open to a wider variety of solutions.
Window performance should be kept in proportion with the performance of the rest of the building envelope. With glass making up only 20% of the walls of the average home, and windows being a lot pricier per square foot than the rest of the shell, you should invest first in better-performing walls, roofs, and basements. But if you’ve already upgraded…