Window Replacement Guide

Signature Windows > Window Replacement Guide

Do your windows and/or doors need a much needed upgrade? Replacing your windows is not a one-step operation, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Signature Windows 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.

The Best Type of Window

Living in a semi-arid or high altitude climate can impact your windows and doors in unique ways, so Signature Windows offers unique solutions including:

  • Vinyl
  • Aluminum-Clad Wood
  • Wood Frame
  • Composites
  • Fiberglass

What is a Vinyl Window?

Typically found at home improvement retailers, specialty dealers, and large and small window replacement companies, vinyl is traditionally an inexpensive window option.

The Pros:

  • 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

The Cons:

  • Becomes brittle with age, often resulting in a short lifespan
  • Not well-insulated, making them unideal for Colorado’s climate
  • 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.

The Pros:

  • 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

The Cons:

  • Best suited for mild climates
  • Carries heat outside in the winter, while holding it inside during the summer

What is an All-Wood Window?

All-wood windows have been a longtime traditional favorite. They are highly customizable, and the ideal option for historic neighborhoods or structures.

The Pros:

  • Classic look and feel
  • Easy to repair
  • Perfect for projects requiring historic preservation

The Cons:

  • Vulnerable to water damage
  • High maintenance frames, that require re-caulking and cleaning
  • Unkept windows lose energy efficiency

What is a Composite Window?

Composites are made with a combination of materials. Composites offer “green” replacement window solutions due to their innovative use of waste material. Composite windows are more expensive than vinyl, and slightly less than wood.

The Pros:

  • Attractive, traditional wood look
  • Low-maintenance and easy to clean
  • Resistant to hail and impact damage

The Cons:

  • Less durable than fiberglass alternatives
  • Not suitable for more modern home designs

What is a Fiberglass Window?

Fiberglass products are known for their superior energy efficiency and longevity. Some fiberglass window manufacturers offer full wood interiors while others offer wood veneers. Fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl, but less than wood.

The Pros:

  • Up to 8x stronger than vinyl
  • Rigid, strong, and impervious to water
  • Resistant to UV exposure and fading

The Cons:

  • Difficult to use for very large and complex designs
  • Limited number of customization options

Window Anatomy

Before you dive headfirst into the world of window shopping, nail down these basic anatomical terms and start talking like a pro!

Window Anatomy

Choose Your Style:

The way a window operates should be in line with the style of your house. Windows come in a variety of styles, so finding the ideal design for your home is no difficult feat.

Double Hung Window

Double-Hung Window:

The most popular window option, and the best suited window for traditional homes. This window is made up of two sashes that slide up and down.

Casement Window

Casement Window:

This window features a hinged sash that swings out like a door. The sash seals tightly to the jamb, making it one of the best windows for keeping out the weather.

Slider Window

Slider Window:

Much like a double-hung window, this window boasts two sashes that slide horizontally. These are most commonly found in contemporary home designs.

Hopper Window

Awning or Hopper:

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.

Tilt-Turn Window

Tilt-Turn Window:

A less common window option, the tilt-turn features special hardware that allows it to tilt inward, or pivot out like a door. These tend to be more expensive than other popular options.

Fixed Window:

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’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? However, it’s important to understand how these numbers were acquired. To start, let’s discuss the three factors that are taken into consideration when rating window performance:


How effectively a window stops heat flow. The smaller the number, the better the performance.

SHG (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient):

The ability of the glass to block the sun’s heat. The lower the number, the less heat gets in.

Air Infiltration:

The rate of air transferred through a window unit, or how well the window stops air flow 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 professional.

Mountain Homes & High Altitudes:

Approximately 1% of the population of the U.S. lives at an elevation at or greater than 5,000 feet. However, 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 can do for you and your high altitude home.

Historic Windows:

Signature Windows recommends that homeowners with historic windows consider replacement windows only if operation or damage forces the question.

In addition to being a cost effective, Low E Storm systems are a good option if you looking for improved energy efficiency.

Window Warranty & Service:

Signature Windows offers a 10-year warranty on all of our installations, regardless of the size of the project. We also offer 24-48 hour maintenance for any issues that may arise.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are vinyl windows inappropriate for Colorado’s climate?
Please visit the vinyl section above for more information.

2. What level of energy savings can we expect?
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 always apply. Always read the fine print, or consult with a Signature Windows expert.

3. Why don’t you offer financing?
Signature Windows does not offer financing as we would have to increase our pricing 5% to 20%, depending on the terms of the financing.

4. Please describe the replacement process – What can we expect?
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 there to help you every step of the way.

5. What is the difference Between Fiberglass and Fibrex?
Fibrex material is a patented composite made of reclaimed wood fiber from Andersen manufacturing operations and a special thermoplastic polymer, some of which is also reclaimed.

Fiberglass is stronger than Fibrex and as a result will have thinner frame profiles with more glass.

Which is better?
We prefer fiberglass over Fibrex. Once a window is correctly installed into the opening, the strength difference becomes less important.

6. Is Fiberglass a better window material than wood or aluminum-clad wood?
We recommend fiberglass or aluminum-clad wood over all wood windows as we believe fiberglass allows for greater energy efficiency and it well equipped to handle Colorado’s climate . However, it is an uphill battle to maintain wood in exterior applications in our climate for most homeowners.

7. What should I look for in a quality installation?
Check out the following pages on our site for more information:
It’s Cold Outside – Part 1
It’s Cold Outside – Part 2