Is it Worth the Cost to Replace Your Windows?
Let’s face it, home improvement can be a never-ending struggle. There always seems to be something that needs fixing, improving or replacing. But if you don’t pay attention and keep up with the maintenance, your home will soon sink into disrepair that you may be unable to recoup.
Sometimes you need to weigh the importance of improvement or repair projects. Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining the priority of a project:
How critical is the need?
If you don’t repair or replace, what further damage or impact will it have?
How expensive is it?
Can you do the job yourself and save some money?
What’s the return on investment; i.e., will the improvement increase your home’s value?
Will the improvement save money in other areas; for example, utility bills?
These are all valid questions you need to answer with any new home improvement project. Also, making a list of pros and cons for the project can help in your decision. Replacing your windows is one major home improvement that can reap benefits, like increasing your home’s value and decreasing your utility bills. You’ll need to consider the costs against the benefits of this project.
Costs of Replacement Windows
The cost to replace the windows in your home varies greatly. It depends on a number of factors, including:
The brand of replacement window chosen
What materials the windows are made of
Where you purchase the windows
The number and type/style of windows that will be installed
Whether you will install the windows yourself or hire a contractor to install them
Let’s look at each factor in greater detail.
Brand of Replacement Windows
Like just about any product on the market, windows are made by many different manufacturers. They will fluctuate in price, usually based on the quality of the windows. Premium replacement windows will cost more, but they will look and function better, last longer and usually offer a better warranty than their cheaper counterparts.
Consumer Reports recently tested many of the name brands for replacement windows. They tested how well a window can withstand the elements—specifically, wind and rain. The results of their testing revealed the top window for each of vinyl, wood, and composite materials. You’ll see that sometimes you actually get what you pay for; sometimes, not so much. The cost and rating variables are not necessarily by brand, but also window type, as well.
Materials Used for Window Frames
There are basically five different materials used in window frames. Each one has its pros and cons.
Aluminum. This is the least expensive type of window frame and is lightweight and low maintenance. However, aluminum attracts heat and is not energy efficient. It’s also not very aesthetically appealing. For these reasons, most premium window manufacturers and contractors don’t even carry aluminum windows.
Vinyl. Vinyl window frames are popular because of their affordability and low maintenance requirement. They can be insulated to provide better energy efficiency. They are moisture-resistant, as well. The downside of vinyl is that it comes in limited colors and cannot be painted. Some consider it to look rather cheap, but that depends on the window itself.
Wood. Wood frames are probably the most versatile. Real wood is aesthetically appealing and can be painted virtually any color imaginable to match decors. It’s a great insulator, so it’s energy-efficient. Wood requires more maintenance than other materials. It needs to be stained or painted regularly. Unless specifically treated, it’s susceptible to mold, rot, and termites. Windows made from wood are also costlier than other alternatives.
Fiberglass. This material is the most durable of all. It resists cracking and fading and is less likely to expand and contract with weather changes. It provides excellent energy efficiency because of its thermal performance. Fiberglass is more expensive than vinyl but less than wood. It can be painted any color to complement the rest of the decor, but that also requires more maintenance than vinyl.
Composite. This combines two materials together to produce a more durable frame with less maintenance. They are also highly energy-efficient. They can be made to look like wood without the maintenance. They are usually the most expensive option of all the other types of frames.
Source of Window Purchase
This differentiator is not as wide as you may think. You may find windows cheaper at one big-box store, but you don’t have the selection you’d have at another source. That means you have to settle for a brand or type that is lower in quality or lacks features you desire. If you choose to have the same store install the windows, that may cost you more.
If you purchase the windows from a contractor who will also install them, you may well get a better deal. Because many installers carry only a few different brands, they can get deals from the manufacturer and pass them on to the consumers.
Window Types and Styles
There are several types of windows available, each varying in cost. The most common styles are:
Double-hung: slide open from the top and bottom
Single-hung: one half remains in place while the other half slides to open
Sliding: move horizontally along a track
Bay: extend out from a room
Casement: placed on side hinges and open outward
Picture: large panes of glass that don’t open; suitable for letting in light and views
Awning: open outward from top-mounted hinges
Transom: above a door or another window
Stationary: fixed panes that don’t open
And of course, you’ll need to multiply the cost of each type of window by the amount you’re installing.
DIY or Hire a Contractor to Install?
The answer to this question can make a big difference in the cost. It can also greatly affect the outcome of the project. Your decision should be based on several factors:
Your skill and experience
The tools you have available
The number of windows to install
Whether the money you save is worth your effort
Whether you want the assurance of an installation guarantee
Installing windows is a major undertaking, one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even if you’ve successfully completed other projects around the house, window replacement is one of the largest. If you’re only installing one or two small windows on the main level, it may work out well to DIY. But you may want to consider hiring a professional if the project is bigger.
Windows are heavy and cumbersome. It usually takes more than one person to install them, especially if some are large and heavy and ladders are involved. What happens if you drop and break a window? If a professional installer breaks a window, you don’t pay, they do. If you are installing it, the broken window is your expense.
The amount of time to complete window installation varies, based on your experience, the number of windows being replaced and how many individuals are involved. If you have spare time on your hands and you are knowledgeable and confident enough, you may want to try it. But is the risk of injury and loss really worth it?
A big reason to trust the window installation to a professional is the warranty. Many window manufacturers will not guarantee the results of the installation unless a certified professional installs them. Your new windows should last for at least 20 years. Do you want to take the chance that improper installation would void any warranty?
Return on Investment
Although the overall cost to replace windows can seem rather steep initially, the expense should be looked at as an investment. There are many advantages to be gained by choosing to replace your windows.
Increased Home Value
Window replacement is a project that is sure to increase the value of your home. Depending on who’s doing the ranking, a window replacement project is ranked in the top 10 of all home improvement projects for return on value.
Your old windows probably have cracks in the seals, broken frames or locks. That means air is leaking through them, so you’re spending more to heat or cool your home. Installing new energy-efficient windows will go a long way in helping you reduce your utility bills.
By replacing those old peeling, cracked and foggy windows in your home, your home’s appearance will be more appealing. You’ll notice the difference in the amount of light flowing through them. You can get the colors you want that complement your other decor.
The Decisions Are Yours
We hope this article has provided information to you about the costs and value of replacing the windows on your home. Ultimately, you decide on whether to replace them, where to buy them and who will install them.
We hope that you choose Banner Construction to install your premium replacement windows. We only carry the best: Pella and Simonton. They are available in vinyl, fiberglass or wood. We are certified installers for both brands, so you can trust that your windows will be installed properly.
If you are undecided or confused about the types of replacement windows that are right for you, we can help. We will meet with you to fully understand your wants and needs, offer suggestions and answer all your questions.