Window To The World

Monday, June 17, 2024

By Kelvin Frerks

The building of a new home can be one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of a homeowner’s life. The creation of sites like Pinterest has opened the homeowner to more ideas and options than ever before. Choosing cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting, etc. has become as easy as clicking on a mouse, but can be overwhelming to the system. With all the flashy and style-driven selections for your home, one of the most important products that often gets overlooked is window selection. Today, we are going to go over some key points to understand how to choose windows for your new home.

Working in the window industry for seven years, one of the common phrases I would hear from homeowners is, “A window is a window”. Well, not really. Windows vary by style, options, color, composition, and performance. Picking the right window for your new home can be the difference between a satisfied and dissatisfied homeowner.

Most window manufacturers’ window-style platforms are the same: slider, single-hung, double-hung, awning, casement, and sliding patio doors. Any of these can be a great selection depending on the application. Below you will find the hierarchy of the window world:

windowsDirect sets: Direct sets, or non-operable windows are the least expensive, most efficient units based on their design. With no operating unit, the Insulated Glass or IG unit is siliconed into the frame for an air and water-tight seal.

Sliders: Sliders tend to be on the economical side of the window hierarchy and the least energy efficient. One advantage of the slider is egress opening. Sliders tend to produce larger access openings per frame size to meet egress requirements.

Single-Hung: Single-hung windows are still on the economical side, but a little more efficient than sliders. Single-hung windows provide a less expensive option to the double hung for homeowners looking for that look. They also provide some ease of cleaning with the operable sash tilting in.

Double-Hung: These windows tend to be a little higher economically but with increased efficiency. The double-hung advantage is in the ease of maintenance. Both sashes tilt for ease of cleaning and care. Also, in case of stress crack or glass damage, sashes can be swapped out in instead of hiring a glass professional.

Awning and Casement: These are the most expensive, but the most efficient. Casements use compression to seal the window lending itself to high performance in any field application. There are a few different types of weather stripping used depending on the manufacturer, but in general, casements provide the best U-Values, water, and air infiltration results.

There are a few other ratings that you may want to be aware of when walking your customer through the window selection process.

U- Value: U-Value or Thermal Transmittance is the amount of heat transferred through a window. The lower the number, the more efficient the window. You may get more questions about U-Value when Municipal, State, or National Rebates or Tax credits are offered.

Solar Heat Gain: The fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window. Either transmitted directly and/or absorbed, and subsequently released as heat inside the home.

Water Infiltration: The amount of water that passes through a window. This is tested by putting a plastic offed vacuum on the inside of the window and seeing how much water it will handle at a certain pressure.

Air infiltration: This is the amount of air that passes through a window. I call this the curtain effect. If you have a closed new window and you can see the curtains flutter, there is probably an issue.

All this testing information should be readily available on the website of your manufacturer of choice. If it isn’t, I would contact your area representative to find out where you can get it. The more a homeowner knows, the more confident they will be in the result.

As stated earlier, any of these windows’ styles can be the right choice for your customer depending on the application or new home location. In a starter home, where price is the most important factor, a nice slider or single hung might work great. In a higher-end home on a lake or farmhouse with a high wind factor, casements are going to perform better. There are also architectural and style considerations. Am I going to put a slider or casement in a Cape Cod-style home? Probably not, you are most likely going to put in single or double-hung. The goal is to have a conversation about these options to limit callbacks after the job is done. There is a lot to juggle, but as the contractor, your experience and knowledge can walk your customers through the process and point them to the product that makes the most sense for them. As we all know: “A satisfied customer is your best advertisement”.