New builds and renovations alike present a myriad of choices to homeowners, from siding to roofing to interior and more. As we learn more about energy efficiency in the home, one topic comes up time and again in home improvement circles: windows.
When shopping for windows in KC, the biggest thing to know is New Construction versus Replacement. New Construction Windows have a nailing fin so they can be appropriately secured to the wall. Conversely, replacement windows are designed to fit in a pre-existing opening and are easier to install with fasteners. New Construction Windows are for new homes or extensions, whereas replacement windows are for renovations to existing spaces.
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Should You Replace Your Windows
You may be surprised to learn that energy efficiency alone is not a good reason to replace your windows. Windows are a large investment and shouldn’t be an impulse renovation strictly for energy efficiency. You can easily save 7-15% on your energy bills, but compare that to the cost of replacing windows.
If you want to replace your windows, start with a financial plan. Windows can cost hundreds per unit based on the style, and costs are constantly shifting thanks to inflation, supply, and other factors.
This is not to say you shouldn’t get new windows– new windows can help refresh your home’s appearance, remove drafts, and make your home quieter and safer. Just be prepared and have a plan.
Finding the Right Installer
The next step is to find a window company in Kansas City. You want to make sure and use someone local; someone who is familiar with the area. A local installer is used to working with buildings in KC, traditional, historic, and modern. They will have a great idea of what styles and options work best in your area with your style of home.
Weather has a huge impact on window choices; your installer needs to help you choose windows that can withstand heavy KC rains and shifting temperatures in the winter. After all, these windows should easily last you 20 years.
Windows offer a lot of options, some functional and others aesthetic. Let’s break down the three main categories: Style, Frame Material, and Glass.
- Single Hung. A vertical, two-section window that can open at the bottom while the top remains static.
- Double Hung. Similar to the Single Hung, except both sections of the window can slide or tilt open.
- Arched. A decorative style with a rounded top.
- Awning. Can be pushed out from the bottom, which is great for keeping out rain.
- Bay. A window that protrudes outward from your home and creates a bench or shelf to enjoy the view. Flat windows in angled frames.
- Bow. Similar to a bay window, except it uses custom curved windows that create a circular area.
- Casement. Swing to the side or up to open, can really open up a room.
- Egress. Designed for safety, typically installed in basements to provide both natural light and an escape path for emergencies.
- Garden. Mini Bay windows for plants.
- Glass Block. Provide both light and privacy. Frosted or patterned, these windows allow light while blocking the view.
- Hopper. Great for limited spaces; open from the top with a crank.
- Jalousie. Slatted windows that open like blinks for airflow.
- Picture. Large, open pane fixed into position. Great for a home with a view, especially if you are going for a Biophilic design.
- Round Circle. Covers circular windows as well as half-round, oval, and elliptical. Can be combined with other styles for aesthetic.
- Skylight. A window set into your roof.
- Sliding. For elongated spaces, slide horizontally to open.
- Storm. These fit over your existing windows for an extra layer of protection.
- Transom. Accent windows used to decorate or break up spaces.
- Custom. When you can’t find a standard window to fit a space, it’s time to work on custom designs to get the look and feel that’s perfect for you.
Wood. Popular for its natural, traditional, and easily customizable appearance. Offers good insulation and sound barriers. However, not great if your area is prone to pests like termites, and they need more maintenance. They can also be quite expensive.
Vinyl. PVC is used in countless household items. You can choose between ‘pure’ and ‘recycled’ vinyl; pure is more durable, but recycled is more affordable. Vinyl is often Energy Star rated and requires little maintenance. They are lightweight and durable, yet more affordable. However, they can fade and are difficult to recycle. You also have less flexibility with design and color.
Fiberglass. Made from resin and reinforced glass fibers. Top insulation choice, low maintenance, and not prone to corrosion, mold, or rot. Frames are usually thinner but highly durable and eco-friendly. However, they are costly and have fewer color options.
Aluminum. Flexible and durable, great for modern homes. But they don’t hold up well to heat and can get moisture inside.
Wood-Clad. The appearance of wood with the firm construction of fiberglass or aluminum. Less maintenance, highly customizable, durable, and expensive. You also need to watch for the cladding to separate from the window.
Composite. A combination of metal, vinyl, and wood. Combines their benefits for great resistance to moisture and rot, they don’t warp, and they can mimic natural wood for customization options. They are eco-friendly and energy efficient. They are also much more expensive.
Float. Simple, single-pane glass. Low cost, easy to clean, dangerous when broken.
Insulating. Double or triple-paned glass prevents heat transfer. Tightly sealed, but seals can fail and cause condensation between panes. Filling the spaces between with gas, like argon or krypton, or with thin Low-E coating can prevent seal failure.
Low-E. Great for energy efficiency, Low-E glass is lightly coated glass that reflects heat back into a room rather.
Privacy. Tinted, frosted, or otherwise obscured glass lets light in while blocking the view.
Laminated. Stronger than other options. UV protection helps avoid upholstery fading.
Tempered. Very strong, and great for skylights. Breaks into chunks rather than shards for safety, and exceptional clarity.
Uncommon Glass options. Acrylic, etched, curtain, wired, smart, LED…these are options for window glass that are less common in homes. You need to ask if your installer even offers these, as they are growing in popularity, but they can add a splash of uniqueness or fun to your home.
While you don’t need to have all of your windows pre-designed, it’s good to know the differences going in so you can have an informed consultation and estimate with your chosen installer. Knowing what matters most to you, between style and function, and what you are hoping for in your space can help you and your installer whittle down the options to find a balance with what works well in KC homes.