For some, buying a home will be the most expensive purchase in their lifetime.
Whether you decide to build or buy pre-owned, the products you choose to renovate or build with in your home directly affect the value and comfort of your home, its energy efficiency and resale value.
If you think of your home as an investment, then it’s important to consider factors other than just price while selecting products. Cutting corners to save a few dollars may not get the results you want. To stay on budget, one could scale down the project, or alternatively, break the project down into phases over time.
Like any other consumer product, the window industry has many product grades ranging in quality and affordability. With increased demand for vinyl windows, there has been a significant increase in manufacturers offering various product qualities. Choosing the right windows and doors will affect the overall performance, look and comfort of your home. A few important things to consider are:
Not all vinyl is created equally and there are two main types; newly-made (Virgin Vinyl) or re-ground (recycled vinyl). Virgin vinyl trumps recycled vinyl because:
When you cut a vinyl window frame in half, you will immediately notice the thickness of vinyl as well as the structure of the frame. The thicker and heavier the vinyl frame is, the higher quality and performance you will have. Multi-chambered heavy vinyl frames of 2.2mm or greater offer added strength and help to eliminate the frame from sagging. A high-quality manufacturer will add steel to further strengthen oversized windows. A multi-chambered frame will result in superior thermal break efficiency but it’s important to realize that it may cost a little more upfront, with energy and cost-saving benefits showing throughout the life of the window.
The corners of a vinyl window can tell you a lot about the quality. A good quality frame will have fusion-welded corners. By welding the corners together, just like welding metal, the result is an impenetrable joint that maximizes energy efficiency. Good corners will have the excess vinyl from welding removed. Ensure the window corners are not screwed together or chemically welded because this method will break down over time and result in reduced performance and maintenance or replacement costs.
To determine a product's functionality, there are a few hardware-related items to focus on.
If you’re looking at sliding windows, brass rollers offer a smoother glide over plastic or neoprene rollers which are typically found on lower quality products. Metal locks will hold up longer and lock tighter than plastic or vinyl locks.
If you prefer casement windows, the roto-cranks will be very important. A folding handle will not interfere with your blinds and it offers a cleaner look. The internal gears should also be metal and not plastic, which tends to strip prematurely. Remember, you’ll use these features every day so it’s important to consider these options.
All windows, enforced by law, come with LoE coatings, which is a coating that can either reject heat gain or encourage it. Knowing what you want will be crucial to the comfort of your home. Sealed units using Cardinal LoE 180, 270, 366 or i89 coatings with argon gas can meet or exceed local code requirements as well as offer EnergyStar ratings.
As consumers, we need to understand that companies close down for a variety of reasons or there is a change in ownership, which results in the voiding of all warranties. Any company can offer a lifetime warranty regardless of how long they have been in business. Find a company that will be around in 20 years to ensure that your investment is sound. Take a look at online and third-party reviews, the direction of the business and the fine print in their warranty. Lifetime warranties that are “limited” or “pro-rated” are not what they appear.
Remember, overall product value does not relate to the cheapest price. While it is easy to just focus on the upfront cost you need to consider product longevity, energy savings, and ongoing maintenance and premature replacements that might be needed. If you lose 25% or more in energy costs on a cheaper product, you will need to add that cost onto the initial cheaper product price as well as your monthly energy bills forever. Remember what Benjamin Franklin said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low prices is forgotten."
Centra Windows is not only the manufacturer but also the installer of its product, which enables us to offer a full warranty, eliminating any confusion between product performance and installation. We view the house as a system and understand how each of the elements must work correctly to maximize the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Contact our local Employee Owners at 1-888-534-3333 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this topic and many more. You can also sign up for our biweekly newsletter, providing all the tips and tricks about the window industry.