Does It Pay to Be Cheap?
Inexpensive Windows vs. Expensive Windows
With winter still in full force old, drafty windows can go from a minor annoyance to a bigger problem. You may need new windows for a few reasons: rotting wood, fogging glass, lack of energy efficiency, etc. New windows won’t be drafty, need storm windows, and make for easier cleaning.
As you start looking for replacements, cost is one of the biggest considerations. As tempting as it is to go for the cheapest option possible, it’s important to know what you’ll be getting for your money.
You Get What You Pay For
Planning to sell your home at some point? According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Cost Versus Value study, homeowners get about 73% of their replacement window investment back when they sell they homes. On the other hand, choosing the wrong window replacements can detract from the home’s value. Windows are an important aesthetic feature in every home, and energy efficiency has become a major concern for many homeowners.
When you spend just a little extra on your replacement windows, you increase the value of your home by improving its appearance and energy efficiency. For example, consider an energy efficient PVC or aluminum/clad window unit versus a vinyl replacement window.
Most vinyl replacements are not aesthetically appealing compared to an aluminum clad, PVC, or wood window. You also lose additional glass space with a vinyl replacement window, since they are an encapsulated window designed to install directly into your existing wood window frame. The wood frames are then capped with a coated aluminum trim coil. Without proper capping, water will seep in behind the aluminum coil and begin to rot the wood frame underneath and you may never know it.
Biggest Bang For Your Buck — PVC & Aluminum Clad Units
If you choose to install a Full PVC Unit, or Full Aluminum Clad Unit, you can be assured that what you see is what you get; you shouldn’t have any worries about the window frames. PVC is the best option and value of any window on the market if you want a window that will never rot and the freedom to have a variety of color choices. You lose these options with aluminum clad and vinyl replacement windows because the exterior of the windows are not paintable. PVC windows are made to look identical to a wood window thus keeping the classy look of a real wood window without the possibility of rot. Aluminum clad units and PVC units are as energy efficient as vinyl replacement windows. Even though these full units cost more than a vinyl replacement window, you will notice a huge difference in the appearance and will be glad you decided to pay a little extra.
Solid wood products sold today don’t stand up quite as well to the elements as the wood used 50 or 100 years ago, mostly because the lumber is farmed quickly rather than naturally grown slowly. A better, longer lasting option is aluminum clad wood windows. These windows are real wood covered by an aluminum skin, aka “cladding”. The cladding comes factory painted in your color of choice, and that finish is guaranteed for 20 years — three to four times longer than just paint applied to solid wood windows. However, you’ll be paying somewhere around 15-20% percent more for aluminum-clad than unclad wood.
Affordable but Functional
If you are on a strict budget, there are still decent windows for a lower price. There are of course some factors to consider — What are you looking for in a new window? What style do you prefer? Do you want extra features?
Cheaper materials make for a cheaper window in general. Vinyl is the least expensive, followed by fiberglass followed by wood. More affordable windows can still be energy efficient and attractive, you’ll just have less variety to decide from.
Also, it can be tempting to tack on add-ons and features, but is it worth the expense? Focus on those that will really benefit you and add value. Low-E coatings improve efficiency, but triple glazing isn’t as important unless you live somewhere very cold. For easier cleaning look for double-hung window sashes that tilt in. Going for a full screen will allow optimum airflow by lowering the top window and raising the bottom. If you’d like more light, look for finer mesh screens, which don’t obscure the view as much as standard screens. Some features are less necessary:
- Between-glass shades.
- Laminate exterior glass.
- Having the window company supply and install trim
- This is a relatively simple project for most homeowners/
Picking a common style of window will also keep costs down. Unique shapes such as curves and bays and circle will increase the price. The most affordable style are double-hung, fixed, casement, and slider windows.
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N.a. “Cheap Windows vs High Quality Windows”. Window Planet. Window Planet. N.d. Web. 10 Jan 2018. http://www.windowplanet.com/cheap-windows-vs-quality-windows/
N.a. “Choosing the Right Replacement Windows for Your Home”. Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports. Sept 2014. Web. 12 Jan 2018.
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