Type of Window
You’ll want to find brands with window styles that complement your home’s architecture. Many contemporary homes have casement or sliding windows. Historic homes often feature double-hung and awning windows, while farmhouse-style homes have bay or bow windows.
Read about popular window types below and search for companies that provide windows that match the look of the room(s) you’re upgrading.
- Awning windows: These windows have hinges at the top of the frame and swing outward from the bottom. They often have a crank or a type of glide hardware.
- Basement hoppers: These small basement windows increase natural light and airflow. They run across the top of your home’s foundation and are hinged at the bottom to open at the top.
- Bay and bow windows: These windows have a 3D shape that curves outward from your home. Adding a box seat or ledge can transform them into a bookshelf or additional seating area. Bay windows are angular, while bow windows are more curved.
- Casement windows: This popular window style has a hinge on the side and swings open to the left or right via a crank. Casement windows are often placed in hard-to-reach areas, such as over a kitchen sink or in a bathroom.
- Double-hung windows: These windows have two locks and open at the top and bottom. They’re often found on high floors.
- Garden windows: Garden windows protrude from your home, creating a space to grow plants and herbs. They’re ideal for a kitchen window.
- Glass block windows: These windows are translucent, thick blocks of glass. They allow light into the room but obscure the view, making them a popular option for bathrooms and basements.
- Picture windows: These oversized windows are floor-to-ceiling accents. They cannot be opened but provide a lot of natural lighting.
- Shaped windows: Sometimes called geometric windows, shaped windows provide an accent that lets light in where standard windows might not work. Popular shapes include half-round, round, eclipse, triangles, and trapezoids.
- Single-hung windows: These windows function similarly to double-hung windows, but they have one lock in the center. They tend to be smaller than double-hung windows.
Window frame material affects more than the window’s design appeal. Different window materials have varied durability, lifespan, and customization options. Choosing the right window frame could impact your home’s energy efficiency, value, and curb appeal. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular window frame materials.
- Aluminum: These windows provide a more sleek look than vinyl with better durability and low-maintenance care. Aluminum provides more protection from temperature-related issues than vinyl, wood, or fiberglass. These windows work well in warmer climates but can corrode when exposed to salt water. They also provide very little energy efficiency.
- Composite: This frame option combines several materials to improve durability and overall performance. Common combinations include wood mixed with polymers, metals, or plastics. Composite window frames have better durability than vinyl with the design appeal of wood windows. This material offers good energy efficiency, customization, and lifespans. Composite windows are more expensive than vinyl but more cost-effective than wood.
- Fiberglass: This window frame material responds well to hot and cold weather changes, making it ideal for most geographic locations. Fiberglass expands and contracts without any lasting frame damage. Fiberglass windows cost more than vinyl or aluminum, with prices as high as wood options. This material is dull, so it’s often painted to improve its appeal. These windows offer excellent energy efficiency, low maintenance, and long-term durability.
- Vinyl: One of the most affordable options available, vinyl windows require little maintenance and provide good energy efficiency. However, this material lacks durability and may warp if exposed to extremely hot temperatures. Although vinyl has some customization options, it doesn’t offer the more stylish or polished look of wood or aluminum windows.
- Wood: This traditional window material offers timeless and elegance to any home. Wood windows provide long-lasting durability with proper maintenance. Since it’s a natural material, wood is more susceptible to peeling, rotting, and sun damage. This window material has a higher price tag than other options.
How energy-efficient your windows are matters regardless of what climate you live in. Energy-efficient windows make a big difference in how well your home can regulate its temperature. The Department of Energy reports that 25%–30% of your home’s heating and cooling use goes toward combatting heat gain and loss through windows. This has a notable impact on your electricity bill.
Efficient windows also help filter out damaging ultraviolet light. Better filtration means less sun damage to the people inside and to your furniture, flooring, and walls. The most energy-efficient windows won’t provide you with many benefits if they’re not installed properly,, so make sure to work with a reputable licensed contractor to get a precise installation and tight seal.
Check that any window brand you’re considering includes a warranty to protect your investment. The length and stipulations of these warranties vary by product. High-end options, such as wood windows, typically come with comprehensive warranties, while vinyl windows may have warranties as short as one to two years.
Common warranties for the industry include the following:
- Lifetime warranties: These cover all window parts for a predetermined time designated by the manufacturer, typically between three and 15 years.
- Double lifetime warranties: This type isn’t as common, but as the name suggests, you’re warrantied for double the expected lifetime of your window.
- Limited lifetime warranties: Limited lifetime warranties are also determined by the manufacturer but only cover some aspects of the window.
- Transferable warranties: These are helpful if you ever plan to sell your home because you can transfer the warranty to the new homeowner. Coverage may be limited for non-original warranty holders.
- Labor warranties: The warranties above protect the windows themselves. Labor warranties protect the workmanship. Also known as contractor warranties, these cover issues related to workmanship as long as the windows are installed by a licensed, manufacturer-approved company.
Reading reviews on popular sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google can help you understand customers’ experiences with the window brand you’re interested in. Take note of each reviewer’s pros and cons, especially the windows and installation quality.
Pay attention to what each review mentions about scheduling. In our survey, 69% of homeowners said their windows were installed within three weeks of placing an order, while 68% said the installation was completed within two to four hours. Reviews should align with this timeline for a reputable and efficient provider.
Many customers will mention whether or not a company stands behind its work with its warranties, as well as how helpful customer service reps are. You should consider a different installer if you notice many negative reviews.