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Tips for Window Shopping

A Simple, Straightforward Guide for Buying New Windows

There are many guides out there for customers looking to buy replacement windows for their home. But many of these guides focus on negative aspects instead of empowering readers with useful, straightforward information that helps them.

So to cut to the chase, here are simple, straightforward tips for buying windows.

Do Your Windows Need Replacing?

First off, figure out if your windows actually need replacing. If your windows are outdated and you want to upgrade them to improve the curb appeal of your home, go for it. They will certainly boost your home value.

Otherwise, if your windows exhibit any of these signs, then it’s time to consider window replacement:

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  • Rotted window frames;
  • Cracked or broken glass;
  • Broken hardware;
  • Difficulty opening and closing the windows;
  • Rattling windows;
  • An increase in heating and cooling costs;
  • Feeling cold drafts in winter and hot drafts in summer.


What to Look for In New Windows

New windows are an investment in your home for today and the future. So be sure to choose quality windows that will keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient for many years to come.

Look for the following when choosing new quality windows.

Durable Materials

Choose windows made with durable, high-quality materials that will stand the tests of time and your climate. If you live in an area with extreme temperature fluctuations, you’ll want window frames that won’t expand, contract, or warp.

For climates with plenty of precipitation, choose materials that are water-, rot-, and rust-resistant. And for cold climates, you’ll want frames that are excellent insulators for your home.

Energy Efficiency

Replacement windows of any type will likely be more energy-efficient than your current outdated or damaged windows. But not all new windows will benefit your home year-round.

So to find energy-efficient windows that will keep your home comfortable and well-insulated and your energy bills down, look for windows with an Energy Star label.

Compare the ratings on the labels. For example, Energy Star labels with low U-factor values are considered more energy-efficient. The U-factor measures the rate of heat transfer in a window. So the lower the value, the lower the amount of heat loss you’ll have with those windows and the more insulating your windows will be.

Well-insulated, energy-efficient windows tend to be double- or triple-glazed with spacer systems and argon gas for added insulation and prevention of heat transfer.

For more information on energy-efficient windows and how they will benefit you and your home, read this article.

What’s the Warranty Say?

When shopping for new windows, be sure to read the warranty and any fine print so you understand what’s covered, for how long, and the process for making claims. Some warranties are vague while others are straightforward with no fine print.

Warranties may cover products and installation, while others may only cover part of the window. And if it says “Lifetime Warranty,” determine what a lifetime means for the window manufacturer. It likely doesn’t mean a human lifetime or a house lifetime.

Choosing Materials

Keep in mind your climate and budget when choosing window materials. The cost of windows varies by material type and style, so consult with window manufacturers for an accurate cost estimate.


Perhaps the most popular window material, vinyl is durable, weather-resistant, and energy-efficient. Vinyl won’t warp or rot, and is moisture- and insect-resistant. Vinyl is also an excellent insulator since it prevents heat transfer.

Vinyl windows are also a cost-effective option for window replacement since vinyl has a long replacement cycle. But vinyl windows have limited colours and appearances and are not easy to paint.


Fiberglass is a low-maintenance, extremely durable material that won’t warp, rot, or crack. Some manufacturers fill hollow fiberglass frames with insulating foam so these windows have better energy performance.

Fiberglass windows are in the mid-price range for replacement windows, so they tend to be more expensive than vinyl. But fiberglass is stronger than vinyl.

Fiberglass windows also come in limited colours, but they are easier to paint than vinyl windows. And some fiberglass windows come with wood finishes that look like the real thing.


Aluminum windows are typically more expensive than fiberglass and vinyl windows. And aluminum does not insulate well against heat and cold transfer. Instead, it will expand and contract, which can put stress on window seals.

Aluminum is moisture-, insect-, and rot-resistant, but it is vulnerable to corrosion in coastal climates with salt in the air.

However, since aluminum is such a solid material, aluminum windows can be made with thin sashes and frames, which are ideal for larger window openings.

Aluminum windows can also be manufactured with a variety of long-lasting colour finishes. And hybrid aluminum windows are made with improved insulation.


Wood is a beautiful window material, offering a warm, natural appearance to homes. Wood is a great insulator, and with modern hardware and weather-stripping techniques, wood windows are no longer drafty.

Wood frames can be painted and stained, and are ideal for custom designs, especially when matching the architectural style of a home.

But wood is more high-maintenance than other materials. It’s not moisture-, insect-, rot-, or warp-resistant, so you have to keep an eye on wood windows regularly for signs of deterioration. And you should be prepared to repair cracks, caulking, and paint.

Choosing Styles

There are many styles of windows to choose from. So to help narrow down your search, here are some of the most popular styles today.


Awning windows are hinged at the top, with the bottom swinging outward when opened. These windows are ideal for air ventilation, especially when it’s raining outside. The awning style keeps precipitation out while still allowing fresh air in.

Awning windows are commonly used in bathrooms when fitted with privacy glass. And they are known for their tight seals when closed.


Hopper windows are the opposite of awning windows—they have hinges at the bottom and can open inward or outward.


Single-hung windows have a fixed upper window sash and a bottom sash that moves up and down. The top sash is well-sealed to keep moisture and cold air out. And due to their simple design, these tend to be a cheaper window replacement option.


Double-hung windows have a lower sash that slides up and an upper sash that slides down. These windows provide excellent air circulation in homes and are very easy to clean since the sashes tilt inwards.


Casement windows have hinges on one side and open outward with a crank. They are ideal for an unobstructed view from the window. They also have an airtight seal when closed since the sash locks tightly against the frame. And they are easy to clean when fully open.


Fixed windows provide plenty of natural lighting, but they do not open, making these windows extremely airtight. Fixed windows are also known as architectural windows since they have custom shapes and decorative glass.

Booking an Installation

Once you’re ready to book your window replacement installation, ask who will be doing the installation. Is it the same company who manufactures the windows? If not, this might affect your warranty. Also, ask how they will handle any issues that come up with the installation and who to contact to resolve the issues so you’re not left in the dark once the installation is complete.

Hopefully, these tips for buying windows will help you narrow down your search for the right windows for your home. And when in doubt, contact your local, trusted window manufacturers and installers to help answer any questions you have during the window buying process.

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