The info you need to find replacement windows

July 27, 2015

When it's time to get new windows, the choices can be overwhelming. Here's the lingo you'll need to know when buying windows for your home.

The info you need to find replacement windows

Learning to speak window

It pays to understand basic window terms:

  • Cladding is a protective material, usually vinyl or aluminum, that encases exterior wood frames to prevent decay.
  • Muntins, or mullions, are the wooden trim pieces that divide the sash into small sections, called lights. In many windows, the lights are separate panes and the muntins that hold them stick out on the inside and outside of the sash.
  • Faux muntins are a one-piece snap-in cosmetic feature in newer, moderately-priced windows. They're often plastic and installed only on the inside sash over a single large pane.
  • Double and triple-thickness windows are separated by slim, hollow spaces filled with inert gases that substantially reduce heat flow and improves insulation ratings.
  • Low-E glazing is an invisible metallic covering that blocks ultraviolet radiation that's emitted from sunlight. It also reduces colour fade in interiors.
  • R-values and U-values are rating terms used by the building industry to describe heat conductivity and the resistance of windows. Higher R-values numbers means better insulation ratings. For U-values, lower numbers are better.

Framing your window decisions

  • Wood-framed windows are the traditional choice and offer many benefits. They can be painted or stained and have a reasonably good R-value.
  • Aluminum-frame windows are generally less expensive than wood and need less maintenance. But they tend to be less attractive and aren't as thermally efficient as wood frames.
  • Wood windows with vinyl and metal cladding on the exterior combine good R-values with low maintenance and moderate prices. Many have sashes designed for easy removal during cleaning.

Know when to replace

  • Sometimes windows are beyond repair and must be replaced.
  • Replacing a window is a challenging do-it-yourself project, particularly if you are working alone.
  • A window-replacement company may not charge very much for installation when you buy the windows from them.

Getting new windows can be expensive and difficult. But if you know the lingo and shop around, you can find windows that look great and help cut your utility bills.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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