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8 Things to Consider When Replacing Windows

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Before we even moved into our house, the previous homeowner told us we’d have to replace some of the windows. Many of the seals were broken and some of the windows had some cracks. We held off as long as we could — it’s not the most exciting use of money. But the investment can actually help save you money in the long run as you gain energy efficiency.

Chris Loves Julia | 8 Things to Consider When Replacing Windows

Linen Sofa | Rug | Side Table (similar) | White Urn | Floor Lamp

There are so many considerations when it comes to windows. It can be daunting to go into a showroom for the first time! We’ve outlined some of the key features that will help guide you through the decision-making process. From how you want the windows to open and whether your HOA allows different grid patterns to how energy efficiency ratings can change the tint of the glass, we’ve got you covered in this guide to buying new windows.

1. Homeowners Association Bylaws

If you have an HOA, read through the bylaws for rules on materials, colors, and style. If any part of the look will be changing, the HOA will most likely need to approve. If the look will not change, generally there is no need to approve. But sending an email confirming this to be the case is helpful in maintaining a positive relationship with your HOA.

2. Climate

Wood-exterior windows will always require more upkeep, regardless of climate, but this is especially the case in areas with a lot of humidity and rainfall. Brand new wood windows should be painted after install, and again within 2 years of install. After that they should be painted every 6 years or so. If the windows will be getting intense, direct sunlight for more than an hour each day, then you’ll also want to be careful about painting the exterior of the windows a dark color due to the potential intensity of the heat absorbed by the material. In areas with more moderate climates, vinyl windows are a great option and often less expensive than wood or aluminum/metal. In direct sunlight, vinyl windows do have a tendency to discolor and warp over time. If you live in a place with an intense climate, aluminum or metal will hold up the best, but you’re limited on color options.

Chris Loves Julia | Chris Loves Julia | 8 Things to Consider When Replacing Windows

3. How the Window Opens

The way the window opens is a big consideration for each room. For example, double-hung windows open on the top or the bottom, while single hung only open on the bottom. Awning windows will open slightly on the bottom, and casement windows open on the side. In some spaces, such as a shower, you may not want the window to open at all, so opt for a picture window. Talk through each room and its use specifically, and think about how you want that window to operate. Don’t feel the need to have every window operate the same way. Your windows can all have the same light pattern and look, while operating in a way that is best for each room.

4. Sash Kits

If the frames of your windows are in good shape, you can often save a lot of money by opting for replacement sash kits instead of a whole new window. Sash kits replace everything within the window jamb. They’re much easier to replace (no need for removing trim outside or inside the home) and are less expensive than full windows. Not every brand has sash kits in every style, so talk with your window supplier about what’s doable in your home.

Chris Loves Julia | 8 Things to Consider When Replacing Windows | Outside Paint Colors

5. Color Choice

If you don’t want any restrictions on what color you make your windows, wood is probably best because it can be painted any color. Aluminum windows often come from the factory in your choice of color, as picked from a limited color palette the manufacturer offers. If you want aluminum, then ask to see their swatch deck and choose carefully. While aluminum windows can be painted, doing so voids any kind of warranty on the product so it’s best to get the color right from the start. Vinyl often has basic color selections, and it will not hold paint well later on.

6. Lites (Window Grid)

The “lites” in a window refers to the grid pattern. If your window has a grid of 3 across and 3 down, that’s considered a 9-lite window. Consider the window sizes around your home and how they will look together. If you have a 36″ wide, 9-lite window on a wall next to a 24″ window you need to replace, it might feel like you want to make it another 9-lite window. But in this case you may opt for a 6-lite window (2 across, 3 down) because then the lites themselves from each window will look the same size. Consider the look you want to achieve and choose the lite count on each window accordingly.

Chris Loves Julia | 8 Things to Consider When Replacing Windows

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7. Coatings

There are a few options for coatings on windows as well. There are coatings that provide better insulation, coatings that block UV light, coatings that provide obscurement and privacy, and coatings that offer glare reduction. There are mirror coatings, decorative coatings, and after-market films and covers that can be added. Each coating will alter the clarity and/or color of the windows, so be sure to ask your window sales rep what the impact of each coating will be.

8. Energy Efficiency

Due to governmental regulations, all new windows have to pass minimum efficiency ratings and even the least expensive of options will be more efficient than top-line windows from 30 years ago. The higher you go in energy ratings, the higher the price (typically). However, that usually translates over to savings with energy costs so it’s always worth discussing with your window rep. And if a couple hundred dollars helps a room feel less drafty every day that you live in your home, it’s definitely worth the consideration.

Chris Loves Julia | 8 Things to Consider When Replacing Windows

Mantel Mirror | Boucle Chairs | Coffee Table | Chandelier | Linen Sofa | Rug | Floor Lamp | Artwork | Picture Light | Vase on Mantel | Pedestal Table | Coffee Table Books | Black Frame | Urn

So what did we pick for our home? We opted for wood exterior and interior in a high energy-rated option. We kept the look the same as our current windows to avoid issues with the HOA. The interior of our windows will be pre-painted in black for all rooms. We plan to paint the exterior a color, but if for some reason we’re unable to get it approved by the HOA, we always have the option to just paint them white again. For now, they’ll be primed and ready to paint.

Most of our windows are double-hung, but we have some bay windows in our bedroom and picture windows peppered throughout. We held off on ordering windows for our bathroom, because at this time we’re still running through the layout. Come back soon to see what we pick!

Nearly all of our windows will be sash kits, though we have four arched windows that Sierra Pacific (the company we went with) doesn’t offer a sash kit in wood for. So for two of them we are doing full tear-out replacements in aluminum. They are toward the back of the house and we selected white as the color. So they can remain white if we paint everything else or we can choose to void the warranty and paint them to match. Where it’s only two windows, voiding the warranty on them is less of a concern.

There are also two arched windows on the front of our house on the left side that are not available from Sierra Pacific at all (they’re a width that isn’t supported by their manufacturing). So we will be ordering a full replacement of the two custom-made windows there. We didn’t add any coatings, but due to the energy efficiency there may be a slight blue hue in certain lighting from the outside.

Chris Loves Julia | 8 Things to Consider When Replacing Windows

Now you know more than you ever thought you’d know about windows. We hope it’s less daunting now that you can decide what matters to you. Windows are the “eyes” of the home and an investment that lasts for decades. It’s worth taking the time to consider all of your options!

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