The Ultimate Guide to Choosing The Best Windows for Your Home

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing The Best Windows for Your Home

May 21, 2014
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So you want to buy a new set of windows?

As simple as it sounds, choosing windows for your home can be a minefield. With so many different types of windows, and so many different things to consider, a simple trip to the hardware store can quickly turn into a nightmare as you are beset by different types, options, and ideas from every side.

Thankfully, choosing windows doesn’t have to be a difficult choice. In fact, with a simple set of considerations, making the right choice can be enjoyable. We’ll walk you through, step by step, the important consideration you need to make and guide you through the entire process the window purchasing process.


Step 1 – Determine the purpose of your windows

What purpose you want your windows to serve will be the first consideration you’ll need to make, and will be the determinant of all the other choices that you will need to make. A few of the purposes that you may want to consider include:

Ventilation – Windows can introduce outside airflow.

Light – Another purpose of windows is to provide natural light, transforming a dull and dark room into a bright and welcoming room.

Ornamental – Windows can also be a decoration in themselves, with windows improving the look of the room, or giving a beautiful view of the outside.


Step 2 – Determine what type of windows you will want

After figuring out what the primary (and possibly secondary) purpose of your windows will be,  you will need to choose the type of window that best suits your need. Here is a list of the most popular types of windows, and what these may be best suited for:

a. Double hung windows – These are one of the most popular types of windows. Double hung windows are made up of two halves or sashes that can slide vertically within their frame. Since the window does not swing out, it works excellently for areas with little extra space. It also provides easy access and good ventilation, and it is easy to make adjustments such as  adding security measure to the frame.


b. Horizontal sliding windows – These windows contain two window frames that travel along a track, allowing them to move past or over each other.

c. Bifold windows – These windows have a number of individual sashes (which are framed and windowed panels) which are hinged together. You may choose to open one section of the window for a small opening, or several for a larger opening. With a concertina-style design, these windows are a good option for space-challenged areas.

d. Clerestory windows – Clerestory windows are high windows, usually located above eye level. These windows main purpose is to provide light and ventilation without compromising privacy, or also to provide light and ventilation without displaying views that may be distracting or unsavoury.

e. Awning windows – Awning windows are hinged at the top, allowing them to swing outwards from the bottom. These are often used in collaboration with fixed windows or operating windows. These windows are suited for wet weather, and can be opened even in the rain.

f. Casement windows – Casement windows have vertical hinges that allow them to swing out, and occasionally in. This type of window allows for decent ventilation, although it may not be the best choice for those with limited space and can be difficult to secure.

g. Picture windows – A picture window, other wised known as a fixed window is usually a large window that does not contain an opening, and usually consists of one single frame.   These windows are used mainly for aesthetic purposes, such as to give access to a particularly stunning view.

h. Jalousie windows – Otherwise known as louvre windows, these comprise of glass slats in metal clips that can be opened and closed in unison. This is a popular type of window for warmer areas, as these provide good airflow. However, because of the fact that they cannot be completely sealed, they are not a very good choice for colder climates, as they would not be able to keep the cold out.


Step 3. Select your window frames

Phew! So now you’ve decided what you want your windows to do, and what type of windows you’ll want. The next step for you to decide is what type of frames you’ll want. The window frame is what your windows will be set in, and each type of window has a special type of characteristics unique to it. Here are the most popular type of window frames:

Aluminium – This material is the basis for the most popular type of window frame due to its ability to support a large amount of glass even with a small amount of aluminium. In addition, aluminium is easy to maintain and works out to be relatively affordable. However, aluminium frames conduct a lot of heat, making them a bad choice for places where heat needs to be kept in/out of the home. Also, it is suspect to condensation, meaning that it may not be the best choice in for wet weather climates.

Wood – Because of their look and traditional feel, wooden frames are also very popular. These frames provide great thermal support in regulating the internal house temperature, and are resistant to condensation. However, the weather may cause the wood to shrink or swell, and can be more costly than other types of frames.

uPVC – Otherwise known as vinyl windows, are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with ultraviolet light stabilizers to stop sunlight from breaking it down. The benefits of vinyl window frames are that they don’t need to be painted and they also have a high level of moisture resistance. In addition, they are also fire resistant, making them a great choice for buildings at increased risk of fire.

Fibreglass – Fibreglass frames are unique in that not only are they strong, but undergo minimal shrinkage or expansion due to the weather, and are extremely thermally efficient. However, fibreglass can become expensive and there may be limited availability in some areas and for some colours.


Step 4. Select your type of glass

Now that you’ve decided the type of window that works best in your house, as well as the window frame that you’ll be using, here comes the fun part: the type of glass that you’ll be using for your window! Here are some of the most common types of glass that are available:

a. Insulated glass– Insulated glass refers to a window made up of two or more panes of glass. In order to insulate the window, the glass panes are separated and hermetically sealed, leaving an insulated air space. This type of glass is excellent at energy efficiency, as the insulation limits the transfer of cold air entering your home. In addition, insulated glass also greatly reduces the noise entering your building. If using this glass, it is important to consider the type of window frame being used, as some frames (such as aluminium) conduct heat and cold if not thermally enhanced, which will negate any benefits from installing insulated glass.

b. Laminated glass – Laminated glass is a type of glass that is made up of two pieces of glass with a layer of material in between, usually polyvinyl butryal. The glass doesn’t shatter as in case of force it becomes stuck to the interlayer creating a “spider web” effect. Laminated glass is difficult to break and is often used as a security measure to prevent break-ins, accidental injury, or even limit damage in places with extreme weather conditions. Those using laminated glass should be careful to keep it away from water, as moisture can cause deterioration of the interlayer.

c. Low E Glass – Low Emission, or Low E Glass, has a special coating on one surface of the glass which helps it to reflect heat from passing through it. Low E glass is extremely thermal efficient, and can also reduce the glare from the sun. Low E Glass may be combined other types of glass, such as laminated glass, in order to maximize thermal efficiency. In addition, this coating can be applied to glass at any time, meaning that you won’t have to replace your entire window if you want low e glass. However, it should be noted that Low-E glass is not good for cold weather climates that rely on the winter sun for natural heating.


Step 5. Choosing the right size of window

Window size is important because it will determine the amount of light and ventilation in the room or building, as well as how hot or cold the area will be. Most experts recommend about 10 per cent of your wall surface to be windowed for optimal benefit. The best idea of choosing windows is to go with standard sizes, where there will be a wide range of types of window to choose from.

The climate for the size of your window is important: In hotter climates, you’ll want smaller windows on the west to minimize the afternoon sun entering the room, keeping the interior as cool as possible. In colder climates, you’ll want windows that face south to maximize the light and heat that you get during the day, warming the room up. The shape of your windows is also important, as large or rectangular windows let in the most light.


Step 6. Window installation

a. Pre Installation

When storing your windows before they are installed, they should be placed in a clean and dry area away from building materials. Frames should be stood upright on their sills on pieces of timber or brick. They should also be tied firmly to prevent them from falling or breaking. Don’t remove the bands or corner braces that may be attached until after installation.

b. Installation

Improperly installed windows can lead to heat loss, reduced ventilation, and a whole host of other issues. Here are some best practices to consider when installing your windows:

  • Leave names, rating numbers, and identifying information on windows for future reference

  • Remove cement and plaster from windows immediately

  • Ensure that all cleaning acid is removed to prevent it from causing damage.

  • Don’t stand on the windows or frames

  • Don’t use acid to remove mortar stains on window frames


Step 7: Window maintenance

  • By taking good care of your windows, you can increase their lifespan and reduce the chance of having to make costly repairs or replacements. Here are some of the best practices for caring for your windows:

  • Take care not to scratch the window surface when cleaning windows

  • Windows should be cleaned every three to six month, depending on the harshness of conditions they are exposed to.

  • Use cleaning solutions which have been designed specifically for glass cleaning to ensure best results. Barring cleaning solutions, you can use a damp cloth with a few drops methylated spirits before wiping it dry with a lint free cloth.

  • Avoid using acids such as hydrofluoric or phosphoric acid, and don’t clean class when in hot or direct sunlight.

  • Avoid using tape or other adhesive materials as these may stain or damage the glass.

  • If cleaning laminated or double glazed glass, don’t let cleaning solutions touch the edges.


Step 8 – Window frame maintenance

Many people ignore the fact that the window frames, as an integral part of the window structure, also need to be maintained. Here are a few tips on maintaining your window frames:

  • Keep window tracks free from dirt and debris that can damage your windows and reduce performance.

  • Check seals periodically to ensure that they are secure.

  • Ensure that any moving parts or hinges are well lubricated.

Now that you know what to look for in choosing the right type of windows, what specifications are necessary, and how to prolong the life of your windows, you can now begin to making an informed decision on the right window choice that will suit your home. However, you may still require more information in making this important home improvement step. Contact us at Better View, and we will explain everything you need to know, and provide a professional and personal touch with any window installation needs you may have.