EXPERIENCE THE SIGNATURE DIFFERENCE
REPLACEMENT WINDOW GUIDE
Do your windows and/or doors need a much-needed upgrade? Replacing your windows and/or doors is not a one-step operation, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Signature Windows + Doors is here to help guide you through the process, and to help you make informed, confident decisions.
What does this article offer to you?
1. All your basic questions, answered.
2. Easy navigation through the product selection process.
3. Expert advice and guidance on installation and maintenance.
Types of Replacement Windows
Living in a semi-arid, high-altitude climate impacts your windows and doors in unique ways. This guide is written with these impacts in mind and therefore is not broadly applicable to the national window replacement market.
Replacement windows and doors are generally constructed In one of the following ways:
- Aluminum-Clad Wood
- Wood Frame
What is a Vinyl Window?
Typically found at home improvement retailers, specialty dealers, and large and small window replacement companies, vinyl is the most popular choice for replacement windows and doors. However, as a thermoplastic material, it is not well suited to Colorado’s climate. It expands and contracts with heat and cold and the movement of the frame material reduces resistance to air infiltration over time and places long-term stress on the seal between the panes of glass. Additionally, because vinyl is not a strong material, more frame material is required and that reduces glass size. Lastly, manufacturers are adding painted exterior colors, but the underlying material can’t promise the same fade-free experience of other window and door materials.
- Most widely produced windows, and most often used in replacement applications
- Easy and relatively inexpensive to manufacture
- Numerous national and regional suppliers to choose from
- Becomes brittle with age, often resulting in a shorter lifespan than alternatives
- The size of vinyl frames will result in decrease glass area in replacement windows
- Yellowing and color degradation as a result of high UV exposure
What is an Aluminum-Clad Window?
Aluminum-Clad Wood refers to wood-frame windows with external aluminum applied to provide a thermally efficient, low maintenance, long-lasting solution for replacement windows. There are dozens of aluminum-clad window manufacturers, offering a wide variety of quality and price points.
It is important to determine if the aluminum on the frame and the sash, the part of a window that moves or holds the glass, is the thicker, extruded aluminum or the thinker, roll-form aluminum. If it is the latter, the risk of damage from hail increases significantly. There is only one major manufacturer that uses roll-form aluminum and this is something you should know and understand before you buy. If you currently have wood or aluminum-clad wood windows, replacing them with aluminum-clad windows will reduce the installation time and complexity.
- Extruded aluminum provides a long lasting paint finish
- Perfect for high altitude, high UV markets like Colorado and New Mexico
- Frames resistant to hail damage
- Not designed to be repainted so picking the right exterior color is important
- Requires a skilled installer to achieve the desired result
What is an All-Wood Window?
All-wood windows should be avoided unless there is a historic requirement. The woods of today are plantation-grown and not as hard as their old-growth forest alternatives.
- Classic look and feel
- Easy to repair
- Perfect for projects requiring historic preservation
- Vulnerable to water damage
- High maintenance windows that require re-caulking, repainting, and cleaning
- Unkept windows lose energy efficiency
- Usually the most expensive option
What is a Composite Window?
Composites are made with a combination of materials, and in the case of windows, involves reusing vinyl and wood waste. Composites offer “green” replacement window solutions due to their innovative use of such material. Composite windows are more expensive than vinyl, and slightly less than wood clad.
- Low-maintenance and easy to clean
- More resistant than vinyl to damage from hail
- Less durable than fiberglass alternatives
- Frames are sized like vinyl frames, compromising the amount of glass
- Expensive relative to fiberglass or aluminum clad wood alternatives
What is a Fiberglass Window?
Fiberglass products are known for their superior energy efficiency and longevity. Fiberglass windows are offered with low-maintenance fiberglass inside and out, fiberglass exteriors and full wood interiors, or fiberglass exteriors with wood veneers interiors. Because fiberglass is eight times stronger than vinyl and two times stronger than composite windows, the frames are narrow, resulting in more visible glass in a given window. Fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl but less than wood.
- Up to 8x stronger than vinyl
- Rigid, strong, and impervious to water
- Resistant to UV exposure and fading
- Difficult to use for very large and complex designs
- Not suitable to radius or round units
Choosing a Window Style:
The way a window operates should be in line with the style of your house. In most cases, it will make sense to keep the way the windows operate the same. In others, replacement windows offer the opportunity to modernize or support the specific needs of those living in the home. Common window operating styles include:
This window is made up of two sashes that slide up and down.
This window features a hinged sash that swings out like a door. The sash seals tightly to the window frame, making it one of the best windows for keeping out the weather.
Much like a double-hung window, this window features sashes that slide horizontally. With notable exceptions, this style offers the lowest performance in terms of keeping the cold out.
These operate similarly to casement windows, though they open from the bottom. The angle of these windows and the tight seal make these great for weatherproofing your home.
Without a sash to open it, these windows have the sole purpose of letting in light, making them less expensive and more energy-efficient.
What to Choose?
Before deciding what replacement window will be best for your home, take the following questions into consideration:
- What materials make up the other windows in your home?
- What is the aesthetic you’re looking to create? A more classic feel, or something more sleek and modern?
- How do your current windows operate?
If you’re unsure of how to address these questions, your Signature Window + Door’s window specialist can guide you towards a solution that best suits your needs.
Energy Efficient Windows
By now, you have probably visited numerous window company websites and you’ve likely seen claims like “Cut your energy bills by 25%*” or “Slash your energy consumption by 40%*”.
Enticing, right? we estimate that only people replacing single pane, all aluminum windows will see a measurable change in their utility bills. Let’s discuss the three factors that are taken into consideration when rating window performance:
How effectively a window stops the transfer of heat. The smaller the number, the better the performance.
SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient):
The ability of the window to manage the sun’s energy. The lower the number, the greater percentage of suns energy is kept to the exterior.
The rate of air transferred through a window unit, or how well the window stops airflow when closed.
We will always be advocates for energy efficiency and are dedicated to helping you find a window that takes all 3 of the above factors into consideration. We will not, however, use tricks, partial truths, and extreme hypothetical cases as sales tools. To better understand how energy-efficiency works and the accurate window performance ratings on all of our products, talk to your Signature Windows + Doors professional.
Mountain Homes & High Altitudes:
Less than 1% of the population of the U.S. lives at an elevation at or greater than 5,000 feet. However, with the exception of vinyl windows, the majority of window manufacturers are located at elevations of 1,000 feet or less.
Those of us who serve high-altitude markets are left with a handful of options in regard to window replacement. Contact us today to learn more about what Signature Windows + Doors can do for you and your high-altitude home.
Signature Windows recommends that homeowners with historic windows consider replacement windows only if operation or damage forces the question. There are a number of energy efficiency options for historic wood windows that don’t involve replacement, including wood storm windows and upgraded replacement glass.
Window Warranty & Service:
In addition to product warranties from the manufacturer, Signature Windows + Doors offers a 10-year labor warranty on all of our installations, regardless of the size of the project. Our installers are employee team members, not contractors. Each installer is Installation Masters certified in addition to taking required internal performance tests annually.
Frequently Asked Questions
Typically found at home improvement retailers, specialty dealers, and large and small window replacement companies, vinyl is the most popular replacement window and door type. However, as a thermoplastic material, it is not well suited to Colorado’s climate. It expands and contracts with heat and cold and the movement of the frame material reduces resistance to air infiltration over time and places long-term stress on the seal between the panes of glass. Additionally, because vinyl is not a strong material, more frame material is required and that reduces glass size. Lastly, manufacturers are adding painted exterior colors, but the underlying material can’t promise the same fade-free experience of other window and door materials.
This is always a tricky question, with no one right answer. We are always happy to help you navigate the ins and outs of energy-efficient products. Competitor claims of energy efficiency, although legally defensible, don’t pan out expect in extreme cases. Always read the fine print, or consult with a Signature Windows + Doors expert.
Signature Windows does not offer financing as we would have to increase our pricing 5% to 20%, depending on the terms of the financing.
We believe the experience of replacing your windows should feel like a personal shopper service whose aim is to delight you. Our professional staff is here to help you every step of the way.
FibrexTM material is a patented composite made of reclaimed wood fiber from manufacturing operations and a special thermoplastic polymer, some of which is also reclaimed.
Fiberglass is stronger than FibrexTM and as a result, will have thinner frame profiles with more glass.
Which is better?
We prefer fiberglass over FibrexTM. Once a window is correctly installed into the opening, the strength difference becomes less important.
We recommend aluminum-clad wood over all wood windows as we believe aluminum clad wood windows allows for greater energy efficiency and lower maintenance In our climate, it is an uphill battle to maintain wood in exterior applications in our climate for most homeowners.