Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Buy Replacement Windows in Denver

By: Arlene Miles

While homeowners often buy multiple cars and sometimes several homes during a lifetime, purchasing windows may occur only once or twice. Because this is a purchase that's going to stay with you for years to come, it's important to do your homework on what you'll be up against.

Look at Samples Before You Buy

Visiting a big box home improvement store, such as a Home Depot or Lowe's, is one place to start to get an idea of what today's windows look like. Another source is searching manufacturers' websites. The "big three" manufacturers of wood windows are Marvin, Andersen, and Pella, with Marvin generally considered to be the top of the line.

Reliable manufacturers of vinyl windows include Simonton, Certainteed, Allside, Sunrise, and Great Lakes. If you can't find samples at your local store, many contractor showrooms will have samples. If your prospective contractor does not have a showroom, ask the company's representative to bring samples when you obtain a quote.

Differences Between Wood and Vinyl Windows

The biggest difference between Denver windows is the price. To refit a home with vinyl windows costs thousands less, with the price difference increasing as the number of windows rises higher. Prices of individual vinyl windows range from $500-$600 installed, depending on the size. Windows manufactured by Andersen range from $750-$875, with Marvin topping out at $900-$1,100 each.

For some people, the beauty of wood windows surpasses the drawbacks. Because of the different types of wood available, i.e., pine, oak, etc., there are different "looks." Wood windows, however, require more maintenance and are more labor intensive as they must be stained or painted. This also adds to the installation cost.

They are also not as energy efficient as Denver vinyl windows because they are either mechanically or chemically fastened, making them prone to air or water infiltration, which causes drafts and leaks. Wood also absorbs moisture, which means the frame can rot and deteriorate over time. Because of the expansion and contraction that occurs, wood windows lose their energy efficiency more quickly than vinyl ones.

Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance free, requiring no painting or finishing. They resist condensation and are not prone to high heat gain or loss. Higher end vinyl windows generally come with an extra energy strip inside the sash, making them more eneergy efficient. They are also much quicker to install because less work needs to be performed with the window opening. Most vinyl windows are not as architecturally attractive as wood windows and are more difficult to match to decor because of a limit on inside and outside colors.

Types of Windows

  • No matter if the windows you choose are vinyl or wood, there are a number of different types. These include:
  • Single-hung, where only the lower sash opens and closes.
  • Double-hung, in which the upper and lower sashes slide vertically to open and close.
  • Casement, which are operated a via crank handle
  • Bay or bow windows, generally in a living room or other area where a windows is larger than four feet in width.
  • Sliding windows, which are essentially double hung windows that open left to right.

A myriad of options are also available, including types and color of interior hardware, or the presence of grilles in the windows itself. Grilles can be embedded between the glass or removable. Some lines also offer tempered glass which is resistant to breaking. Other manufacturers, such as Pella, offer options that are unique to their lines, such as getting blinds installed inside the glass, an option that's particularly popular for French Doors. Andersen offers self-cleaning glass, making the window truly maintenance-free. This glass has a magnetism in it whereby dirt just falls off.

Find a Reputable Professional Window InstallerUnless you are that rare do-it-yourself who has extensive knowledge of carpentry, you'll want to find an experienced contractor to install your new windows and haul away the old ones. Make sure you get quotes from three or four companies. Check out the reliability of the contractor and references on any past jobs.

Another important consideration is the warranty that comes with the installation. Many Denver vinyl window manufacturers now offer better warranties and wood manufacturers that can cover virtually any misthap over the lifetime of the window.

Once the Denver windows are selected, there is a lag time between when they are ordered and when they are installed. This lag is naturally longer in the summer because that's when most people have them installed.

Selection of wood or vinyl windows also affects the length of the installation wood windows are more labor intensive. For vinyl replacement windows, the old sashes and operating mechanisms are removed, but the installer uses the frame and the interior wood trim of an existing window. For wood windows, everything is tkane out right down to the rough opening, so it must be replace. Vinyl installation run one to two days, while wood replacement can last as long as five or six.

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