Commonly asked questions about window types, features to look for, and maintenance tips. Brought to you by our 2022 Remodelers Showcase sponsor, Marvin.
What terminology do I need to know to talk about windows?
Fenestration (a fancy word for designing and arranging windows) involves a number of key terms to know. Glass panes are called glazing and are secured within a four-part frame. The independent, framed glazing is called a sash. The vertical members of the sash are called stiles, and the horizontal pieces are the top and bottom rail. The sashes are installed within a framed opening trimmed by two side jambs, a head jamb, and a sill.
Is there a difference between replacement windows and windows for new construction?
Windows for new construction have flanges fastened to the window framing during construction. Replacement windows are sized to fit into an existing window opening without needing to remove any siding.
What types of windows can I choose from?
Double Hung: With two sashes that slide up and down in tracks, double hung windows are very familiar and very popular.
Casement: Also called crank-out windows, casements are single-frame windows hinged on one side, so they open outward.
Awning and Hopper: Hinged on top, awning windows swing outward, usually by means of a crank. Hopper windows are similar but open inward.
Bay and Bow: These project out from the wall, increasing light introduction and providing a horizontal surface for plants or even a window seat.
Picture: A non-operable window, generally large in size and installed in a prominent spot.
What material should I choose for my windows?
Wood offers superior structural integrity yet just enough flex to allow for some movement as humidity and temperature fluctuate. It can also be shaped into profiles you can’t get with other materials.
Fiberglass has a wide variety of quality and performance standards so look for types without fillers for the best insulation and dimensional stability.
Aluminum generally is used to clad the outside of a wood window and is very resistant to impact and extreme weather.
Vinyl is less costly and low-maintenance. Although the color selection is limited to light colors and vinyl can become brittle in freezing temperatures.
What are my options when it comes to window glass?
Quality window units have two or three panes of glass in the frame, separated by thin spaces filled with inert gas (usually argon) and sealed to decrease heat loss and limit condensation and frost. Window glass can also be treated with a low-emissivity (Low E) coating of microscopically thin metal such as silver. The Low E coating blocks UV radiation and radiant heat transfer. For hurricane regions and areas where someone could fall into the glass, impact glass (a hybrid of tempered glass and laminated glass) is often required.
How are windows rated for energy efficiency?
A window’s U-Factor tells you how well the window keeps heat indoors. The ratings range from 0.20 to 1.20. The lower the number, the better. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) describes how well the window keeps heat out. It ranges from 0 to 1, with lower numbers indicating higher efficiency.
What is the best way to clean windows?
You can simply add a teaspoon of dishwashing soap to warm water in a five-gallon bucket. Scrub with a scrubber or clean, damp sponge. Start at the top and wipe off the solution with a squeegee or lint-free dry cloth. And don’t wash in direct sunlight.