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Quick Tips

What You Need to Know Before Replacing Your Windows

Ready to look into window replacement for your home? Here is everything you need to know before you get started.

Contractors installing windows

Replacing windows can be an expensive home renovation, and as far as home repairs go, it’s too complex to be a suitable DIY project for beginners. Having professionals replace your windows can cost between $300 and $1,000 per window, depending on the features you choose and the size and type of the windows in question.

But new windows can keep your home warmer in the winter, keep it cooler in the summer, improve its aesthetics and even boost its resale value. Before you replace windows, though, you should know what you’re getting into. Understanding the options available can help you make the best decision, whether that’s replacing all of your windows with new, energy-efficient models or keeping and repairing your old ones.

Don’t Expect New Windows to Pay for Themselves

One of the biggest reasons why homeowners choose to replace windows is the potential cost savings from installing new, double-pane, energy-efficient windows in place of older, single-pane models. But, while you may have heard that new windows will pay for themselves, that’s not necessarily the case. If your old, single-pane windows have properly functioning storm windows, you’ll see increased efficiency of only about 15 percent – not really enough to justify the cost of replacing all your windows. And if you don’t have storm windows, installing them may be easier and cheaper than replacing all of your windows entirely.

Replacement windows will typically only net homeowners an energy savings of 5 to 15 percent, because windows are only one of the factors that affect your home’s heating and cooling costs. At that rate, it’ll take a century for your new windows to pay for themselves. Other improvements, such as adding insulation in your attic, will yield more energy savings relative to cost.

Homeowner looking at home window

Aesthetics Are Important When Replacing Windows

Energy savings aren’t the only reason homeowners decide to replace windows. New windows can be a big selling point for buyers if you’re planning to put your home on the market. While you might not recoup the cost of your new windows in energy savings, you’ll get back about 73 percent of the cost of replacement windows when you sell the home. However, the type and style of replacement windows you choose matters.

If you have an older home, its original wood windows may be considered an important architectural feature that will appeal to buyers. Removing them could actually decrease your home’s value. Even if you don’t have an historic home, installing poor quality replacement windows won’t net you the curb appeal you might be hoping for. It’s important that your new windows complement the look of your home, including matching the look of original wood windows on an older home.

Wood May Not Be the Best Choice

Wood windows manufactured many years ago were more durable than wood windows manufactured today because the wood used was grown naturally over a longer period of time, rather than grown quickly on a farm for fast harvest. Wood that grows slowly is denser and therefore stronger and more durable. But today’s quickly farmed wood isn’t as dense or as durable, and that’s why new wood windows may not be the best choice. They don’t last as long as older wood windows and they’re harder to maintain since they require regular painting to protect them from the elements.

However, there are plenty of other choices on the market. Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance-free and affordable. You can also buy aluminum windows or wood windows clad with a layer of vinyl or aluminum. These windows come factory-painted to match your home’s décor.

You May Be Able to Repair Your Old Windows

Maybe you’re trying to preserve the look of your historic home or maybe you have an unusual window that would be expensive to replace. Maybe you simply can’t afford new windows right now. You may be surprised to learn that home repair contractors can often fix sticky, painted-shut, cracked, drafty or damaged windows.

Hardware can be added to make windows easier to lock; painted-shut sashes can be freed up. Broken panes and the putty that holds glass in place can be replaced. All in all, you may be able to get your old windows fixed for much less than the cost of replacing them, and you could end up with windows that are nearly as efficient as new ones would be.


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