Picking new window products is important—not only to your home's appearance but also to your energy costs and home's weather protection. Let's take a look at a window's three defining features, and how they should impact your decisions.
The style of your windows should always match the style of your home. For example, broad, single-pane windows may seem very modern and beautiful by themselves, but they will look out of place and ugly on a Victorian-style home.
When in doubt, always ask a professional contractor or designer for suggestions. Today's common ranch-style home is very flexible and is a good match for everything from traditional swing casement windows to more modern sliding windows. Colonial homes tend to look better with smaller, double-hung windows that have a high number of window panes. Contemporary styles tend to look better with broad or narrow windows without panes. Every home is a little different.
You have a few options when it comes to frame material: Fiberglass, wood, composite, and aluminum.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a more suitable alternative for harsher climates, although it is not usually available in as many colors or designs.
- Wood: Wood frames are ideal for matching a historical aesthetic or cottage style, but they wear down quickly and are the most vulnerable to weather and moisture damage. They may need frequent repainting.
- Composite: Composite frames are made of wood byproducts. They tend to be cheaper than wood frames, and are often more durable as well.
- Aluminum: Aluminum frames are not very energy efficient, but they are very strong and work well if your home faces storms, hurricanes, or other severe weather.
There are also hybrid materials that use a top layer material and a different core material to give a window frame strength as well as the right appearance. Take a look at homes that look similar to yours and see what frame materials they feature to get ideas.
Glass pane decisions often come down to personal preference. However, if you are upgrading from single-pane windows, it's a smart idea to choose a double pane window to help with heat flow. Panes sealed with inert gases or panes with UV filters can also help diminish heat and save money (although they will be more expensive). Ask for more specific numbers on how much double or triple pane windows can save your household in heating costs.
When it comes to selecting a number of panes, remember that more panes give a home a traditional, "cottage" or Victorian feel, while fewer panes make windows look more modern. Prices vary but generally windows without panes will be more expensive.