How to buy a quality window?

Width of the overall glass unit is 1 3/8" top rating in energy efficiency.

Buy Quality...

Windows are an important component of a home. In addition to enhancing the aesthetic beauty of the house, windows can provide fresh air and ventilation to the home, allow the daylight to brighten interior spaces and keep out harsh outdoor elements (wind, rain, snow).

Buying new windows can be a daunting task, especially for the uninitiated. Knowing the type of window best suited for your home and geographic location can help you choose a window that reduces direct drafts from air leakage and the potential for damage from water leaks. It’s important to understand how windows perform with respect to these factors. Equally important, knowing what to look for in a window can help you avoid buying something you don’t need.

Because fenestration products function as openings in the building envelope, it is critical that windows and doors are weather tight and structurally sound. Each component of vinyl windows affects its performance.

Cold drafts in the winter from windows are really an uncomfortable feeling. The drafts can be direct air leaks caused by inferior weather-stripping and/or old technology glass. Believe it or not, you can buy brand new vinyl windows today in your town that have both! So how do you buy a quality vinyl window? It is not as hard as you may think.

Ingredients are Important...

Vinyl

Every part of a vinyl window contributes to its performance. If you want the actual vinyl to not fade and crack, then you better get vinyl that has the best titanium dioxide in it. This chemical blocks and absorbs ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

The actual vinyl window frame and sash components vary in type and efficiency. Some windows have least amount of chambers; others have lots of individual chambers. Carefully designed multi-chambered profile will surprisingly improve energy efficiency of the windows.

Weatherstripping is a component of an operable window, and provides a seal between the window-frame and the operable sash. It is used to prevent air leakage. Better the weatherstripping, more efficient window performance. There are two categories of design. Brush types are more common in sliding windows and compression or “bulb” types would commonly be installed in the casements. Weatherstripping is generally the most vulnerable component in an operable window, as it receives the most wear and tear. The seals should be checked annually for signs of wear or damage, and replaced as necessary.

Glass is glass, right? No way!

Insulated glass has come light years from its inception. First we had standard insulated glass, then hard coat Low E, then soft coat Low E, Low E² and now Low E³. The two pieces of glass are actually separated with a spacer that can directly affect inner glass temperatures. Recent innovations in insulating glass make it possible to have custom solutions for various windows in the home. It is good idea to consider these glazing design options when selecting windows.

Low-emissivity (Low-E) consists of a thin layer of metal oxide applied to either the exterior face of the interior glazing or interior face of the exterior glazing of a double glazed window.  The surface it is applied to is dependant upon the type of Low-E chosen. This coating allows sunlight to pass through, but keeps heat from passing out. It keeps inside window surfaces warmer, reducing the potential for condensation. Special Low-E glazing blocks the sun’s heat, rather than capturing it. It is appropriate for unshaded south- or west-facing windows which would otherwise allow rooms to overheat. Low-E glazing also filters out the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can fade curtains, upholstery and pictures. The coating reduces the amount of visible light coming into a room and can sometimes add a tint to the glass, which may or may not be a concern, depending on circumstances and personal preference.

Gas-filled windows contain an inert gas, usually argon or krypton, sealed between the panes of a double-glazed or triple-glazed window.

The gas is heavier and has a lower conductivity than air, so the window has greater insulating value than conventional double-glazed or triple-glazed windows.

Spacers are a key ingredient in window energy efficiency. Spacer bars are around the perimeter of the sealed glazing unit to provide uniform separation between the panes of glass in multiple-paned windows. Energy-efficient spacers reduce “edge heat loss.” This occurs when heat transfers through the edges of the glass to the sash. The spacers must be well sealed to prevent air infiltration from the outside.

Energy-efficient spacers also improve the life-span of the sash and frame by holding down condensation (moisture) on the inside surface of the window.

Old spacers were made with aluminium. Aluminium quickly conducts heat and cold. Spacers made of less conductive materials are now available. A high-performance warm edge spacer can increase the energy efficiency of a window. Spacers incorporate a desiccant that absorbs moisture from the trapped air in the space between the glass preventing fogging and condensation. Should your window fog, it means the seal is broken.

Larger windows offer more light and a better view. Absolutely! At the same time we need to keep in mind that vinyl is not as strong as aluminium. Internal steel reinforcing is the ideal solution for oversized windows.  The reinforcing adds strength without considerably compromising the energy efficiency of the windows.  When we have a combination of different windows, mulled together (depending on the overall size and design), for structural stability, external reinforcing should be used.

How do you keep all of these parts straight in your mind? How will you know if you are getting a bad deal?

There are always good manufacturers in every industry.  These are the ones who want to make a good product and strive for perfection in supplying great value to you, the consumer. The window industry is no different.