What makes a good window, and what makes a great one?
In this section, you’ll learn to spot the features you’ll want to look for as you compare your options. From materials to construction to beauty and performance, you’ll be armed with the information you’ll need to make a decision you’ll be satisfied with for years to come.
Wood, aluminum and vinyl are the most common materials for replacement windows. Most people choose vinyl for its impressive insulating qualities, easy maintenance and numerous color and style choices, as well as its overall lower cost. More vinyl windows are sold for replacement projects than any other type of window.
Many windows look the same, but they’re definitely not created equal. Look for a high-quality vinyl that resists dirt and is easy to clean. The hollow vinyl frames and sashes can be filled with foam insulation for better energy efficiency. In addition, glass upgrade options featuring Low-E coating and gas-filled dual or triple pane glass can provide the best thermal performance for your home, saving you even more money in energy costs. Also look for high performance weather stripping and intruder-resistant locking hardware, as these features ensure a very tight seal when the window is closed and locked.
Look for high quality materials. With vinyl windows, an environmentally friendly foam insulation in the frame and sashes can make a big difference. Also, installation is critical – a poor seal to the existing wall will ruin the energy efficiency of any window.
Look for multiple panes, argon or krypton gas fillings between panes, and advanced “Low-e” coatings. These help let light and beauty in while reducing interior fading and keeping hot or cold weather out. It’s also important to check a window’s Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. Sunlight brings heat into your home, and depending on the season and where you live, this can either help or hurt your energy bill.
Weather stripping is a crucial yet often overlooked feature which can make or break a window’s efficiency. Look for stripping that’s made of advanced materials, and for locks and latches that compress it fully to create a truly airtight seal. Also ask where hardware is fastened – it’s preferable to fasten to the structural reinforcement, rather than the vinyl surface.
The Internet has changed forever the way people buy windows. You don’t want to be “sold”; you want to be educated and informed so you can make the decision that’s right for you. Use our Buyer’s Checklist; browse AAMA, NFRC and other internet sites. We compare our products with our competition frequently in these same ways. Through these industry associations, defined scientific methods contrast one window’s performance against another. Ask your SoftLite Dealer or contact us directly if you need more information.
Vinyl is very easy to wipe clean and requires no special care or treatment after installation. It’s no surprise to us that nearly all wood window manufacturers are now offering their own lines of vinyl windows. Look for constant-force coil-spring balancers that never need adjusting. Choose windows that are completely fusion-welded at all corners by robotic equipment that ensures consistency. Insulating glass featuring a “metal-free” spacer will best fight condensation.
As the weather grows colder, foggy windows can become a problem in some homes. This simple phenomenon happens when an object is cooler than the air around it, causing a thin layer of water molecules to form on the surface. The windows in our homes are among the most common spots where this condensation occurs because windowpanes receive direct contact with the cold air outside and are usually the coldest surfaces in the interior of a house. While this may sound harmless, the condensation that forms causes water droplets to run down windows and walls, which can result in mold and mildew.