Guide To Buying Replacement Windows


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Guide To Buying Replacement Windows

Our guide to buying replacement windows will take you through 8 steps for the everyday consumer to find good, affordable windows for their home.

Start With Some Basics

You may feel overwhelmed when you first start looking for replacement windows. Start by figuring out what you need. How many windows are you looking to replace? Do you know the type of window you want - double hungs, single hungs, horizontal sliders and casement windows? While you don't have to know the answer to this one right away, it's a good idea to take a look at your existing windows and start to assess your options. (The contractors/companies that provide you with bids can help you our here as well.)

Jot down the number of windows you need, along with the type of windows and any other questions you may have for the window companies.

Know Your Window Frame

Before you call local window companies, you need to answer one question - what type of window frame am I looking for. Different companies specialize in different frame types. For instance, Marvin windows makes fiberglass and wood clad windows, but they don't make vinyl. Sunrise and Atrium only make vinyl window frames. Pella makes fiberglass, wood and vinyl options.

The majority of homeowners, probably 90%, will be more than happy with quality vinyl windows. They aren't going to blow your socks off in terms of the overall aesthetic, but they offer good value and excellent performance. Our advice on wood clad windows is this - unless you can't live without wood windows and don't mind the added maintenance and considerable window replacement cost, don't bother. If you need further assistance comparing the different frame types, try these pages.

Wood vs. Aluminum
Fiberglass vs. composite
Aluminum vs. Fiberglass
Aluminum vs. Vinyl
Composite vs. Vinyl
Fiberglass vs. Vinyl
Wood vs. Vinyl

Get 3 Quotes

Most replacement companies offer free quotes to try and get your business - this is pretty standard practice for most home improvement industries. So how do you know where to go? Here is our shameless can fill out our form and receive quotes from good quality local companies.

You can also try Yelp, Angie's List (this is a subscription based service), Google Local (go with the highest rated companies) or search the Better Business Bureau. Probably best to stay away from the Consumer Reports Replacement Windows List as they only rate products that can be purchased from retail stores and therefore don't review the majority of top vinyl window manufacturers.

Or simply google "Simonton windows in Cleveland, Ohio" (if you don't live in Cleveland, use your specific city and state) and see what local companies come up who carry the following recommended brands. Sunrise, Okna, Soft-Lite, Polaris, Kensington, Vytex, and Zen.

Get your list of three companies and set up times for them to come out - we suggest getting the bids close to one another so you can better compare the companies.

The Bids Themselves

The companies will come out, measure your windows and openings and provide you with a price quote right then and there. Most companies bring window samples of the brands they use and will show you the features, glass options, hardware, etc. If the contractor or company starts in on the hard sell, (i.e. begins with a super high price per window and then says if you sign up right now we'll knock a third off the price off etc.), be very wary. This is a cheap sales trick that quality vendors don't need to use.

Don't Sign Anything

You don't have to make your decision straight away, in fact it's better to get the bids and sit on them for a few days. Use this time to compare the quotes against each other, compare the warranties, window brands and models, as well as the overall project price quote. Begin to rank the companies from first to last to get closer to your decision.

Verify The Windows And Pricing

Take a look in our company review section to make sure the manufacturer produces a good quality product. Also make sure your overall cost per opening is near the recommended price range. There are so many factors that can affect the cost of a project that there can be some variances here. That's where the 3 quotes come in handy; if all 3 are in line with one another then your quotes are probably fair.

Verify The Installer

Replacing your home windows is 50% about the actual windows and 50% about the installation. Verifying that the installers do a thorough job is important. Choosing good companies that have a good reputation is an extremely important step. If you need additional information, ask for some references to talk with past customers or check yelp, google local or call the manufacturer's company headquarters to ask whether the rep/installer in your area has a good track record.

Set Up Your Install

Once you verify the window and the installer, you can set up a time for them to come out and complete the job. You've done your due diligence and should now be rewarded with quality energy efficient home windows that will be your warm for many years to come.

Window Frame Depth And Quality

Does the quality of a window diminish when you go from a 3 1/2" window frame depth to a 2 1/2" window frame depth?

Jerry - Homeowner - from 2019

[Site Editor's Answer]

Jerry, in general, yes the thinner the frame depth the "flimsier" the frame. That's such a general answer though and there are lots of factors that go into a well made, well constructed window. Best to reframe the question as, where can I go to find a quality window at a competitive price. Our recommended window page does have some quality brands listed that may be available in your area.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2019

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