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An in-depth guide to replacement window types for residential homes

The modern window market is booming, offering an increasing number of advanced replacement units of different configurations. As a homeowner who has never bought windows, you may feel overwhelmed with the choice. While getting new house windows might seem like a simple decision, many aspects must be considered carefully. Otherwise, you'll most likely pour your money down the drain.

An in-depth guide to replacement window types for residential homes

Use this in-depth buying guide to get a closer perception of replacement window types, frame materials, and general features. We reveal the key shopping considerations every homeowner should mind while in the market for the right window units for their home. We hope this information will be helpful to you and that you'll get the most out of your new acquisition.

Is it the right time to replace the windows in my house?

This question is so commonly asked that we cannot avoid answering it in our article. The right time for installing new windows is unique for every case. To know that for sure, you need to book a professional inspection. However, we can highlight some obvious signs you can point your attention to while making your decision about new replacement house windows.

  • High utility costs. If you see your energy bills have been skyrocketing the last 6-12 months, poorly-performed windows are to blame. Besides, you should consider other repairs to improve home energy efficiency, chiefly doors, walls, and attic insulation. 
  • Cold window glass. If your home is equipped with double-paned windows that feel cold to the touch from the inside, that means cold air comes through them, lowering the temperature in the room. 
  • Drafts come through. If the weatherstripping of your existing windows has worn out, chilly breezes can come from the tiniest cracks in glass or framing. Ultimately, you'll have to use your heating system at a max, overpaying for the utility bills. 
  • Difficult operation. If your house is more than 20 years old, its foundation could have settled, resulting in a frame twist. Besides, some moving parts could have failed or rusted. That is why you may experience difficulties with opening or closing the window.

How to differentiate windows by the type of frame material?

Are you making your first steps on your home windows replacement project? Start by considering a suitable frame material. Each option has unique characteristics that suit different climate patterns, home styles, and budgets. If the frame is selected and installed correctly, it will function for decades without intermediate repairs. It is essential to know the type and size of the window frame before making the purchase. If you need professional assistance taking window measurements, fill out our quick request form. 

Today's market is abundant with different window types and frame materials. Below, you will find the top three frame variabilities offered by the most popular window brands.  

  • Wooden frames

Natural wood is a popular window frame material for many reasons. First, it suits classic and rustic home styles, giving them a traditional appearance. Secondly, wood offers maximum flexibility as you can stain or paint it the way you want. And finally, wood is proven to be a long-lasting and durable frame material with good insulation properties. Nevertheless, a bigger initial price tag and annual maintenance spending often stop cost-conscious homeowners from getting this frame option for their homes.

Wooden windows are the most costly, with the average price per unit ranging from $600 to $1.300, including installation.

  • Fiberglass frames

This material is less popular from the point of aesthetic appeal than wood but more practical for homes that are placed in areas with a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures. Fiberglass is a synthetic material that withstands direct UV rays and extreme temperatures without cracking and expansion. Frames made of fiberglass are highly durable and require little maintenance. Besides, they offer abundant colors and textures and look more stylish than their vinyl counterparts. 

The cost you should expect to spend for a standard fiberglass window installation ranges from $350 to $750.

  • Vinyl frames

PVC or polyvinyl chloride is one of the most common materials for household items, including window frames. There are two vinyl variabilities - pure and recycled ones. Pure PVC possesses better performance properties as it's more solid and long-lasting than a recycled one. Nevertheless, both options are considered the most affordable on the window frame market and require low maintenance. If you have no budget restraints and seek something exquisite and versatile to enhance your home's design, set your sights on wood and aluminum frames rather than vinyl ones.

The average cost per vinyl window, including installation, ranges from $280 to $570.

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Consider replacing your windows to ensure better home insulation and reduce utility cost

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Replacement window types by their size and construction

When you're in the market for new window units, you come across myriad types and options to suit any home style or budget. Variables include window operational principle, the way they're hinged, the number of panes they possess, as well as energy-efficiency and ventilation properties. Here are the major styles you might be interested to learn about before making the ultimate buying decision.

Large window types

These windows are also known as projected ones. They're constructed of three angled panes, one large fixed unit at the center, and moveable ones on the sides. All three elements are customizable, ensuring ultimate flexibility in styles and configurations. An unconventional design and a thought-out construction make these windows a popular choice for residential buildings. They enhance a home's curb appeal and allow you to create a cozy reading nook or a space for growing plants in the room. Aside from aesthetic properties, bay windows ensure excellent ventilation and allow ample light in the house. You can install them in the living room, kitchen, or dining room. 

Bay and bow windows have similar construction, but the latest ones are larger and can include four or more panes of equal size. They have a curved form and create a circular area along the outside of the building, allowing extended views and adding space to the interior. Bow window panes can be fixed or operable depending on the homeowner's needs and preferences. Either way, they will transmit a lot of sunlight into the room and provide an admirable panoramic view of the house's front or back yard. Bow windows present a combination of fixed windows in the middle and ventilation windows at the ends, letting a lot of fresh air into the room. 

These are the most stylish types of windows for a home. Also known as radius, they come with rounded tops that can enhance virtually any interior, adding a touch of sophistication. Arched windows are often installed above door frames or standard windows to highlight the style of the room and improve airflow. Most windows of this type are fixed, but a few variabilities can be opened the same way as casement windows. Besides, you can find them installed in a multi-arch structure with square or rectangle window panes on the side and arched curved windows on the top. Whatever the option of an arched window you choose, you can rest assured it will allow a lot of natural light into a room, making it look more spacious and welcoming. 

  • Palladian windows

These windows relate to the Renaissance era and can be commonly seen in Italian mansions of that time. However, they also found their application in modern architecture. They're installed in large houses of classic or federal style. Palladian windows are extra large and usually made of three main sections where the center one is arched and larger than the two side ones. They are often placed in the center of the second floor to create a dramatic visual appeal. Palladian windows add an elegant touch to the interior, making it more spacious and bright. Unfortunately, these types of windows are fixed and cannot be opened for ventilation. 

These windows are made from translucent, thick blocks of glass that serve privacy purposes, obscuring the view into the room while allowing light to flood inside. You can commonly see glass block windows in commercial and residential bathrooms as they're best for keeping prying eyes away. Sometimes windows of this type serve decoration purposes, adding a modern vibe to the space. 

These windows are also called fixed as they come as monolith glass panels with low-profile frames. Picture units usually take up most of the wall, providing an unrestricted view of the outdoors and allowing plenty of natural light in. As fixed windows can not be opened for ventilation, they're often paired with casement or awning units to ensure more flexible functionality. Floor-to-ceiling windows are versatile and can become a great addition to both stylish open-floor apartments and cottages in rustic style. They're also used for decorative purposes, often placed above a door or other entryway.

Standard types of windows

Windows of this type are attached to their frames by one or more hinges. Their operational principle is similar to the doors, as they're opened sideways with a crank. Casement windows are tall and provide a generous amount of natural light, making them an excellent addition to bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. Besides, you can open them wide to let a lot of fresh air in. Casement units are one of the most energy-saving ones as they have a reliable locking system that ensures a weathertight seal and minimizes air infiltration.

These are the standard types of windows that can be seen in homes all around the country. They feature two sashes - fixed and moveable that slide to open and close the window. The structure of single-hung units allows them to be opened only from the bottom. It's their major drawback compared to double-hung windows, where both sashes are moveable. Besides, homeowners often complain about non-sufficient airflow through single-hung windows and their low energy efficiency. The initial investment in this window type is relatively low compared to other popular options as they're manufactured of affordable materials and don't require special skills to be installed.

When one talks about double-hung units, the most widespread standard type of residential windows springs to mind. In contrast to their single-hung counterparts, these units come with two sliding sashes that can be tilted out for comfortable cleaning and maintenance. They allow optimal ventilation and security for your kids and pets, as you can leave the window open just from the top. Double-hung windows can be installed just anywhere in your house. They come in a great range of materials and sizes to fit in any interior design and architecture. 

These windows allow making use of the whole frame for opening and closing. Besides, they ensure proper ventilation and prevent debris from getting inside. That is why they're often seen in rooms with limited spaces like bathrooms and basements. They also work well for laundry rooms and hallways. When deciding on this window type, remember that they're typically smaller than standard units and allow less light and air inside the room. Hopper windows don't ensure complete privacy and are difficult to cover up with shades or blinds.

These units are typically installed in the south-central and southeastern regions where the hot climate is predominant all year round. They're generally made of horizontal glass panes that are layered similarly to a Venetian blind. However, you can also come across wooden and acrylic variations. The slats of jalousie windows are moved at various angles with the help of a crank. This mechanism ensures proper ventilation while preventing rain from dripping inside the room. The slats overlap tightly when a window is closed, creating a reliable seal. Jalousie windows are often used to complement bathrooms, open living rooms, and verandas. 

These units are commonly seen in rooms with limited space like basements and bathrooms as they're opened outwards, not taking space inside. Besides, they create a water-resistant awning when opened, preventing rain and debris from getting into the room. Awning windows ensure sufficient ventilation without compromising privacy and security. The principle of awning windows work is pretty simple -  you just need to turn the handle to push a sash outwards. These window units are the best bet if you live in an area prone to regular precipitations. They allow a lot of fresh air while preventing your indoor space from getting drenched. 

Both windows and glass doors can be equipped with a sliding mechanism that works by moving within the frame's internal space. It takes no space in the room while ensuring an unobstructed view and transmitting a lot of sunlight. It's worth noting that sliding windows have two panels, one fixed and another sliding. They cannot be opened fully yet ensure higher security. Sliding units are commonly installed in living rooms, providing a convenient entryway to the patio.

The most common window types installed in basements are called egress. They serve for safety purposes, providing an escape route for house inhabitants in case of a fire, flooding, or any other emergency. Some state governments require locals to install egress windows to ensure their homes meet generally accepted safety norms. Depending on the selected material and installers' professionalism, egress windows can boast high energy efficiency, preventing air leakage and heat loss.

Specific window types

  • Center pivot windows

These windows are popular in homes with pitched roofs (15 to 90 degrees) and suit living attic spaces and loft conversions. They're designed with hinges in the center of the frame. To open them, you must pull down the handle at the top of the frame. While open, the top of the window tilts into the room and the bottom outwards outside. This construction saves space inside, enhances ventilation, and transmits a lot of daylight. 

  • Dormer windows

Roof windows of this type are constructed on sloping rooftops to provide additional space for a vaulted ceiling and increase the amount of natural light and air in an attic. They're placed vertically in a framed structure that is outward from the pitch of the main roof. Dormer units are selected according to the roof's style to boost the home's aesthetic appeal and sale value. The popular attic window styles include gable, gambrel, hip, eyebrow, shed, and others. Dormer units are best for installing in modern cottages and townhouses with slope roofs.

Also called full-circle and porthole, round windows have an intricate gothic style and can easily live up any living space, becoming a focal point of the room. Thanks to their gracefully curved shape, they often become a great addition to classic and modern designs. These windows are versatile in styles, sizes, and materials and can be installed everywhere, from dining rooms to bathrooms and entryways. They are manufactured in fixed and operable variations and transmit enough sunlight and air into the room. 

These specific window types are set into the roofline and are typically made from transparent glass to transmit ample light. Skylight windows come in fixed and operable configurations. The latest ones are not fully opened but offer venting options. These windows are not installed on flat roofs, so you'll likely find them on the pitched and sloped ones. They let in up to five times more natural light than sidewall windows but should be properly sealed to prevent leakage. The best frame materials for skylight units are vinyl and metal. The best glazing material is low-E glass.

Other window types

  • Tilt and turn windows 

This type of window originated in Europe and is considered less popular in the US. Nevertheless, more and more Americans seek to install tilt and turn windows in their homes due to their versatility, uncompromised security, and weather resistance. Thanks to the tilt function, these windows can be opened fully or partially with their top angled into the room. They ensure proper ventilation even in rainy weather or at night. Besides, these windows are safe for kids and easy to clean.

  • Sash-only windows

These windows are very close in their appearance and construction to picture ones. The only difference is that picture windows have frames, while deadlites feature a single sash and are not set within the main frame. They have reduced functionality but offer an unobstructed view. Deadlites should be installed in tandem with operable windows that promote air circulation in the room.

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Consider replacing your windows to ensure better home insulation and reduce utility cost

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What are the key shopping considerations when searching for a new window?

According to Remodeling magazine, window replacement is among the top five home improvement projects in terms of return on investment. Around 70% of all window renovation jobs are paid off, resulting in higher property resale value. Updated windows with energy-efficient properties also help to save on energy bills. You can save up to $400 a year by replacing the old single-pane windows with energy-saving solutions with low emissivity glass. The sum you'd actually save depends on your home's age, roof and door condition, local climate, and other factors. 

Nevertheless, installing specific window types or replacing all home windows at once is considerable spending, not every homeowner can afford. The national average price to install a new double-pane window is $700 - $1.000, depending on the frame material, energy-efficient properties, and your region. Moreover, different window types require different investments - the more sophisticated and bigger units will cost 30%-50% higher than run-of-the-mill ones. For instance, the average cost of Palladian windows ranges from $1.400 to $2.000. Bay and bow windows might cost you $2.000 - $2.500 on average. The whole window replacement project could be estimated from $7.745 to $17.750, including labor and disposal costs. 

As you can see, even considering the potential returns and savings, updating your old home windows is a significant expenditure. That is why you may want to skimp on installation services. However, cheaper isn't always better, especially when it comes to major home improvement projects. Even the most advanced windows won't deliver the look or durability you expect if installed by a layman. Finding a capable window contractor is key to getting a professionally installed unit that will serve for decades.

Leave your request with us to get multiple bids from top-tier window companies and individual installers in your county. We strive to help our clients find suitable home improvement professionals who meet their budgets and requirements.  

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