Window Buying Guide

What you need to know before you start window shopping. Find out what questions to ask before you begin.

8 Benefits of New Windows
Get the biggest bang for your home improvement buck.

You’ll have a hard time finding a project that brings as many benefits – and stretches your investment dollar farther – than new windows. Here are some of the benefits you’ll start enjoying from day one:

  1. Increased home value. New windows can return homeowners 71 to 78 percent of the project cost upon resale. 36
  2. Enhanced safety and security. Windows that don't open easily or are painted shut are more than just an annoyance – they can be a safety hazard, for example when trying to escape during a fire.
  3. Reduced dust and allergens.  Blinds and shades tucked between the panes of glass stay protected from dust, helping to reduce allergens in your home.
  4. Improved comfort. Energy-efficient, well-sealed windows can help reduce cold drafts and hot spots in your home.
  5. Improved energy efficiency. New windows can reduce wear on your furnace and air conditioner, helping you save money by improving your home’s energy efficiency.
  6. More peace and quiet. Insulating frames and triple-pane glass help reduce the noise from traffic, lawn mowers and barking dogs.
  7. An enhanced view. New windows can dramatically improve the beauty of your home – inside and out.
  8. Less time spent cleaning. Today's windows are designed with convenient features like sashes that tilt in – making it easier to clean places that used to be harder to reach.

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How to Choose the Right Window
5 things to think about as you shop.

Windows play an important role in framing the moments that matter to you most, making every day a little brighter and more comfortable. With a wide variety of window styles available, you can choose the right one for your home.  As you start shopping, consider these five things to help you focus your search:

  1. Lifestyle.  Keep the people, places and things in your life in mind as you shop for windows.  Need to keep blinds and shades out of reach of little hands or paws? Do you redecorate frequently? Is there a particular view you’d like to preserve or create? And what about regional considerations – does your area see extreme temperatures?
  2. Budget. Until you have a particular product and installation method in mind, it’s hard to estimate your total cost. When you’re ready to start planning your budget, schedule an in-home consultation  to get a better idea of what a new window will cost.
  3. Material types. It's important to consider the material type of your window. Here are the most popular options:
    • Wood creates a warm, natural look and can be stained or painted to complement your home’s style.
    • Fiberglass is proven to protect your home against extreme heat and cold, while also offering the look of a painted wood window.
    • Vinyl is energy efficient and offers affordable quality that's easy on your budget.
  4. Styles. You’ll be able to choose from a variety of styles, including casement, double-hung, bay or bow, awning and more.  If you’re not sure which one to choose, don’t worry – an expert can help match you with the right window.
  5. Features and options. You can personalize your window with options that bring added beauty and performance. Try out different stains and finishes, add stylish nickel hardware, or select windows with blinds, shades or grilles tucked between the panes of glass. Learn more about ways you can customize your window.

Shopping for Windows: Wood, Fiberglass or Vinyl? Learn about the materials that make windows work harder.

If you've started the process of shopping for windows, you've probably run into a lot of questions.  How important is energy efficiency?  Which window is best for my home – casement or double-hung? (Or something else?) What do the numbers on the label mean?  And so on and on ... and on.

One of the most important questions to consider as you shop for windows is this: Which material is best for my home?  Wood, fiberglass and vinyl are the most common choices, and each has its own unique attributes and distinctive styles.

And keep in mind, all three materials offer the energy-efficient options that will meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states.

So, how do you make the decision?  First, think about the features and benefits that are most important to you.  Then select an options that works within your budget, lifestyle and climate.

Consider wood for:

  • Beauty that comes from the natural look of wood.
  • The most design options inside and out – products can be stained or painted to complement your home.
  • Low-maintenance aluminum-clad interiors with a durable finish that resists fading and helps protect the exterior for years.

Consider fiberglass for:

  • Exceptional strength and durability. 
  • Ability to withstand extreme heat and subzero cold. 
  • Low-maintenance powder-coat finish for the quality look of painted wood that stays looking great for years.

Consider vinyl for:

  • Easy-care frames – no painting, staining or refinishing.
  • Multi-chambered frames and fully welded sashes that adds strength and durability.
  • Affordable quality that’s easy on your budget.

Before you make a final decision, be sure to see the different materials in person.  There might be some aspects of a material's appearance, style or construction that you like – or dislike – more than another.

If you need help figuring out which material is right for your home, ask your local window expert.  He or she can give you insights on the advantages and disadvantages of different materials for your preferences, budget, neighborhood and climate.

9 Styles of Windows
More choices mean more ways to find the right window.

A wide variety of window styles and finishes are available. So choosing the right window option will depend on your personal preference, the style of your home, the purpose or function of the window, and your budget. Here are the main types you can choose from:

Window Features and Options
Personalize your windows with the features you want.

Finishes and colors
If you like color choices, you’re in luck. Windows are available in a wide range of finishes and colors to complement both the interior and exterior of your home. Depending on the product, you may be able to choose from dozens of color options to find the one that’s right for your home.

Between-the-glass blinds, shades or grilles
Pella offers wood windows with snap-in technology, which lets you easily change your shades, blinds or grilles whenever you want a new look.  Because they're tucked between the panes of glass, they won't harbor dust and allergens like typical window fashions do. 27   And they're available motorized with Insynctive® technology, so they can be operated via a remote control or from virtually anywhere with a smart device connected to a compatible home automation system. 40

Grilles
Grilles create the individual windowpanes, giving you the most authentic look of true divided-light windows.  There are several window grille types, so you can choose one that best fits your home's architectural style.  Some grilles-between-the-glass make the window easier to clean, too.

Hardware
Window hardware can be as beautiful as it is functional.  You'll have your choice of today's most popular finishes to coordinate with other decorative finishes in your home - such as light fixtures and cabinet hardware.

Trim for wood windows
From Colonial to Craftsman and Ranch to Provincial, you can choose from a variety of interior trim options that give you fresh new ways to frame your view.  On the outside, look for low-maintenance aluminum-clad trim options for wood windows.  The more styles available, the more likely your windows can stay true to your home's architectural style and decor.

Energy-efficient glass options
Choosing the right glass for your region and your home is as important a decision as any you'll face when buying windows.  For optimum energy efficiency, choose two or three panes of glass.  And look for windows with Low-E (Low-emissivity) insulating glass with argon between the panes to block more of the sun's ultraviolet rays.  For maximum energy performance, choose products that meet ENERGY STAR® requirements.

Screens
Window screens are important to your home's light, ventilation and view.  Today's innovative high-transparency screens are practically invisible, which helps you bring the outdoors in.  Pella's retractable screens roll up and down like a shade to maximize your view and allow more light into your room.

Window Energy Efficiency 101
How to find energy-efficient windows.

Improved energy efficiency is a benefit everyone expects when they install a new window. But there are a lot of factors, including proper installation that will eventually determine how much improved performance and comfort you’ll see in your home.

Here are five things to look for:

  1. Glass. Double-pane glass insulates almost twice as well as single-pane, while triple-pane glass maximizes your energy efficiency.
  2. Installation.  Proper installation will help prevent air infiltration and even costly water damage to your home.  If installed incorrectly, your windows may not operate properly.
  3. Placement. You can increase your window's energy efficiency by selecting specific Low-E (Low-emissivity) glass coatings for different areas of your home. These are layers of thermal protection inside insulating glass that help:
    • Reflect summer heat and retain interior cooling.
    • Reflect winter cold and retain interior heat.
    • Block harmful UV rays to help prevent fade damage.
  4. Region. Your home’s geographic location and climate help determine what kind of windows you choose and what glass options can enhance your energy efficiency.
  5. Frame construction. Your choice of door frame influences your window’s overall energy efficiency.
    • Wood frames are excellent insulators – they conduct less heat or cold into your home.
    • Fiberglass composite material offers insulating properties similar to wood. It won't warp in the summer, or turn brittle during winter.
    • Multichambered vinyl frames reduce heat loss for added energy efficiency – and they’re exceptionally easy to care for.
    • Aluminum is inexpensive and durable but has a poorer insulation rating, meaning the frames conduct more heat or cold into your home.

Look for the Labels
For the greatest energy-saving potential, look for windows with these two labels:

 

ENERGY STAR® certified. This designation means the government has certified that the product meets or exceeds energy performance standards in your state. 1


 

The NFRC label. The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) is a nonprofit organization for the window industry that developed an energy rating system based on whole-unit product performance – not just the glass performance. It's the only reliable way to determine the entire window’s energy performance and compare products side-by-side.
 
The NFRC label includes two important ratings:
 
1. The U-Factor represents the heat rate that flows out of the window each hour. The lower the number, the better the glass insulates.
 
2. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) rating measures the amount of solar radiation that enters as heat. The lower the number, the less heat the glass allows in.

Talk With a Window Expert
When you’re ready, let the professionals come to you.

Shopping for windows isn’t something most people do every day. That’s why it’s important to talk with a professional who can help make sure your remodeling project goes off without a hitch. An in-home appointment is a great place to start. Think of it as shopping from the comfort of your home. Your representative will ask you what you’re looking for in a window or door, show you samples and take the necessary measurements. Once that’s done, they’ll have the information needed to provide you with a quote. In most cases, the quote and the visit are free.

4 Answers You’ll Want to Have Handy

When you call to schedule your in-home appointment, the representative will ask a few basic questions to get a feel for your home and your project:

During your appointment, your representative may ask you about preferred styles and features, how much you’ll use the product, whether you have children or pets, and other questions focused around your lifestyle.

  1. How many windows do you plan on replacing?
  2. What is your home type? (e.g., ranch, two-story)
  3. What year was your house built?
  4. Do you prefer a certain material type? (e.g., wood, fiberglass, vinyl or steel)

Your Nearest Pella Showroom

Pella has more than 200 showrooms focus on windows and doors.
See our products first hand and get the expertise you need for your replacement project.

9 Questions to Ask During an In-Home Consultation
Get answers to these important questions.

When it comes to shopping for windows, don’t leave any stone unturned or question unanswered. It’s your home, after all. And you want to trust that your project will be done right and according to your expectations.

A company’s answers to these questions will help you determine whether they’re the right partner for your project:

  1. How long has your company been in business?
  2. After finalizing my order, how long until installation day?
  3. How long do you estimate the installation to take?
  4. Do you finish the interiors after installation?
  5. How do I know I can trust the installers you send into my home?
  6. Do you have any recent projects I can see?
  7. What happens if I run into an issue after the products are installed?
  8. Why should I choose your company?
  9. What discounts or financing offers can you offer right now?

To help you better prepare, here are two other lists of questions you’ll want to ask door replacement companies before you make a final decision:

Questions for the
contractor / installer

Questions about
warranties

You may be interested in ...

Scheduling an in-home consultation

Shop for doors from the comfort of your own home.

Planning your budget

Review the 7 most common factors that affect your project cost.

Understanding your installation options

From do it yourself to do it for me, here's how to choose the right installation method for your project.

 

 

Next Page:

Door Buying Guide

 

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