Thanks to advanced technologies and modern manufacturing techniques there’s a huge variety of windows on the market today with a vast range of specifications. Choosing which is right for you depends on many different factors such as your type of property, the window’s application, aesthetic and architectural requirements, and your personal choice.
There are a few key questions you should ask yourself when you are considering what type of windows will best suit your property:
- Can I have windows custom designed to match the exterior of my home?
- What type of windows will work best for energy efficiency?
- How secure will my new windows be?
- How much maintenance will they require?
- Will the windows provide adequate ventilation all year round?
- What is the installation process?
- What color and style options are available?
- Are the windows covered by a warranty?
- What is the lifespan?
- Do they allow for sufficient sunlight?
Factors like energy efficiency may not be first thing that come to mind when shopping for new windows. However, installing the right windows supplied by a reputable home improvements company can help to reduce your energy consumption resulting in smaller energy bills. A well manufactured modern window is not only stylish, but will also protect your home from the elements. There is a great deal more to consider when purchasing new or replacement windows than just cost and aesthetics.
Today’s windows come in a variety of materials including uPVC, aluminium, steel, timber and fibreglass. Each material has a lot of benefits that make them a wise choice for new or replacement window installation. You need to consider what type of material will work best for your specific needs. The following section will examine the pros and cons of the different types of materials available for your window installation.
uPVC windows, or vinyl windows as they are called in the United States, are a hugely popular choice for replacement windows as well as many new housing developments. They are known for their energy efficiency and are remarkably cost effective. Below are some of the other advantages of uPVC windows:
- Virtually Maintenance Free: uPVC windows require little to no maintenance other than regular cleaning with soap and water.
- Diverse: uPVC windows are available in a wide array of styles and colours and can be custom designed to fit your home.
- Energy Efficient: uPVC windows provide excellent thermal insulation. They keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer during the cold winter months. If you install A+ Rated uPVC windows you will notice a reduction in your energy bills and enhanced levels of comfort.
- Modestly priced: uPVC windows are typically the least expensive of the various types of window materials. However, this does not mean they are of a lower quality. They are highly durable and do not rot or rust.
There are few disadvantages with uPVC windows. They come in a huge variety of colours and styles, provide excellent thermal efficiency, and can essentially pay for themselves over their lifetime due to the energy savings that can be achieved.
Aluminium windows are a popular choice and they tend to suit modern properties. Some of the advantages of aluminium windows are:
- Aesthetics: Aluminium windows typically have a slimmer profile than uPVC and timber windows due to the material’s high strength-to-weight ratio. This makes them a popular choice in new developments of flats, contemporary houses and commercial settings.
- Low maintenance: Aluminium windows are exceptionally resistant to corrosion from severe weather conditions and they will not crack, warp or swell which gives them quite an excellent lifespan. They are also easy to clean and require little to no maintenance.
- Wide variety of style and finishes: Aluminium windows can be easily customised to fit your specifications with a great choice of finishes, styles and glazing options. They can also look very stylish in modern contemporary buildings.
- Thermal efficiency: One concern raised by homeowners is that, as a metal, aluminium is associated with poor thermal efficiency. However, a good quality aluminium window will incorporate what is called a ‘thermal break’ to address this issue and reduce the flow of thermal energy. A ‘thermal break’ is a barrier between the frame that prevents heat from escaping and cold air from entering thus improving thermal performance.
Steel windows are highly durable and require very little maintenance although they’re not commonly used in residential applications. Steel doors are popular with commercial properties as they are secure whilst also being fire resistant. They tend to be more expensive than other options due to the material and installation costs. Below are some of the advantages of steel windows:
- Aesthetically appealing: Steel windows are typically an excellent choice for larger projects. They are available in a wide array of styles that can be designed to fit your taste and your budget.
- Security: As steel is exceedingly robust by its very nature if offers excellent security.
- Easy to clean: Steel windows are very durable so they do not easily decay or warp. They do require more maintenance than other material types but they are very durable and long lasting.
Of all the choices, timber windows are perhaps the most aesthetically appealing when it comes to style and design for homeowners with period properties. They offer the following features:
- Environmentally Friendly: Wooden window frames are the most environmentally friendly type of window construction.
- Thermal Insulation: Modern timber windows have all the benefits of providing excellent thermal insulation to keep the heat in and the cold out.
- Durability: If properly maintained a wooden window can last for as long as 60 years. A uPVC window typically has a lifespan of 35 years.
- Stylish appeal: Timber windows are classic. They can be custom-designed to fit your specific needs and you can paint, stain or polish them as you choose.
Fibreglass windows are relatively new compared to the types of windows mentioned above. Here are some of their key features:
- Easy to maintain: Fibreglass windows require very little regular maintenance and are easy to clean. They are resistant to warping, rotting and cracking giving them a good lifespan.
- Eco-friendly: They do not emit toxic fumes and are also able to self-extinguish in the event of fire. Fibreglass is highly resistant to environmental factors such as high temperatures or corrosive salty conditions.
- Energy efficient: Fibreglass windows provide good thermal insulation due to their low U Value and high R Value.
Fibreglass windows are the most expensive of the window materials, costing nearly double that of uPVC windows. They also weigh a great deal more than uPVC windows and installation may take longer.
Window style is just as important, if not more so for some, than material. You need to take cost, appeal and practical implications into consideration when choosing the style of window what works best for you home. This section will take a look at the various styles of windows and discuss the pros and cons of each.
What are the different types of windows?
1. Casement Windows
Casement windows are one of the most popular choices for windows. Casement windows are attached to their frame by at least one hinge, can be hinged on the side and are opened with a swinging motion, much like a door. They offer an excellent source of natural light and ventilation.
Advantages of casement windows:
- Will make a room look larger and brighter.
- Superb security.
- Excellent ventilation.
- Offer a large variety of styles, designs and sizes.
- Easy to open and close.
- Energy efficient.
Casement windows are a great choice for style and energy efficiency.
2. Tilt and Turn Windows
Tilt and turn windows are designed with a multi-purpose feature. That is, they can either tilt in at the top of the sash or swing open like a door with the operation of one handle. The downside of this is that they’re not always the most practical choice if you like to have household items on your window cill because they open in towards the room.
Advantages of tilt and turn windows
- Excellent ventilation.
- Easy to clean, in particular if the window is located in a high position.
- Operational flexibility.
Tilt and turn windows are fast becoming a popular choice in new home construction.
3. Sliding Sash Windows
Sliding sash windows are designed with at least one movable panel (or sash) that slides either vertically or horizontally and are typically made from timber or uPVC. With sliding sash windows, one part of the window is moveable while the other part is stationary. They offer a great deal of visual appeal and are used predominantly on period properties. With modern manufacturing methods they have all the thermal efficiency and security benefits of casement windows but without any of the issues that old sash windows were notorious for such as difficulty in opening, noise and drafts.
Advantages of sliding sash windows
- Energy efficient.
- Easy to open and close.
- Very popular in period properties because of their traditional styling.
- Require a minimal amount of maintenance.
- Highly durable.
- Provide a great deal of natural light and excellent ventilation.
4. Double Hung Windows
Double hung windows are similar to sliding sash windows but they have one distinct difference – it’s possible to open both glazed units to provide extra ventilation.
Advantages of Double Hung Windows
- Easier to clean than single hung windows.
- They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials to fit the style of your home.
- Energy efficient.
- Superb aesthetic appeal.
Double hung windows are more of a personal and practical choice depending upon your individual needs.
5. Bottom Push-out Windows
Bottom push-out windows, otherwise known as awning windows, are designed with the hinge on top so that they open outward to provide ventilation. They are most often used in applications such as in basements and can be paired with non-operable windows such as a picture window.
Advantages of bottom push-out windows
- They are able to be placed higher on the wall than other windows and to provide ventilation and natural light. They also provide more privacy than most window styles.
- They are useful in places such as areas over worktops because the handle is lower at the bottom making them easier to open than other styles.
- They can create a trendy and contemporary look for your home.
6. Picture Windows
Picture windows are used in rooms where one wishes to provide an unobstructed view of the outside. They are fixed windows and do not open.
Advantages of picture windows
- Excellent source of natural light.
- They come in many shapes, styles and sizes.
- Provide an unaltered view, bringing the outdoors in and opening up any room.
- As they are fixed windows, they require no maintenance other than cleaning as there are no mechanical parts to relapse.
- They are completely sealed units.
If you have a breathtaking outdoor view, such as a majestic nature view or a gorgeous city skyline view, you might wish to opt for a picture window. They are often installed in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings.
7. Fanlight Windows
A fanlight window, otherwise known as a transom window, is a smaller window that is often installed above another window or a door for architectural appeal. They can help to brighten up a space where this isn’t a lot of natural light.
Advantages of fanlight windows
- They can be custom-made to suit your needs.
- Provide a sense of privacy, especially above doors, due to their higher placement.
Transom windows are a great choice if you are trying to add style to your home. They are perfect for over garage doors, entry doors or picture doors. They enhance natural sunlight and add style and decor to both your home’s interior and exterior.
No matter what window material or style you choose, you want to make certain that you select the option that best suits your home and meets your specific requirements. Always use a reputable home improvements company that will be able to advise you on the myriad of options that are available and will be most suitable for your property and budget.