Over the past couple of months, you may have noticed that no matter how high you crank your thermostat, your home remains drafty and cold. If this is the case, you may want to consider having your windows replaced come spring. In order to secure a timely installation date, you’ll need to place your order with an installer well in advance, so it’s best to start the process right away. From research to installation, here’s everything you need to know about having your windows replaced.
Step One: Research
As with any home improvement project, start by familiarizing yourself with the basic components of the project. In this case, you’ll want to understand your options when it comes to installation, frames, glass, and how these choices will impact your home’s ability to use energy efficiently.
When it comes to window replacement, the first decision you need to make is whether you prefer brick-to-brick, stud-to-stud, or retrofit installation. During the brick-to-brick or stud-to-stud installation process, the entire window is removed down to the wooden frame. While more expensive, this method ensures a more thorough seal. Retrofit installation involves replacing the window but not the frame, meaning some parts of the original fixture will remain. No matter which method you choose, you’ll want to find a pro who specializes in the kind of installation you’re looking for.
While windows are definitely aesthetically important, they also influence your home’s energy efficiency. If you are considering replacing your windows, we recommend looking for Energy Star certified products. These windows will come with a blue label that contains the model’s ER-rating, indicating the window’s overall efficiency, and their U-value, indicating how much heat will escape through the window. Energy Star windows are sorted into categories based on climate — look into these ratings before contacting an installer.
Next, you’ll want to consider what style will work best for your home. Casement windows, single and double hung windows, awning, and bay windows are some of the most popular options on the market. Casement windows tend to be the most energy efficient, however, they also tend to be the most expensive. Consider your budget first and then decide on what styles you can afford.
Frame & Glass
The final aspect to consider is your window frame and the glass itself. Both of these features influence a window’s efficiency rating, however, windows made from any combination of these materials can be Energy Star certified.
Frames come in a variety of materials: aluminium, wood, vinyl, combination, or fibreglass. Aluminium frames are strong and easy to maintain, however, they aren’t particularly energy efficient and are not suited for colder climates. Wood frames are both durable and energy efficient, however, they do require some maintenance. Vinyl frames and combination frames are both energy efficient and easier to maintain than wooden alternatives. Lastly, fibreglass frames are the strongest, most energy efficient and easiest to maintain, but they are also the most expensive.
You also need to consider the kind of glass you prefer for your windows. Glazed, gas-filled, and windows with insulating films are all popular designs, however, with so many options on the market, many homeowners find it useful to consult with an expert to differentiate and find the right fit for their home.
Step Two: Hire a Window Installation Pro
After you’ve done your research and have a good idea about the kind of product you’re looking for, it’s time to find an installation expert. Browse reviews and photos on HomeStars to ensure you find a reliable pro. In addition to looking for a verified badge on their HomeStars profile, check if they are registered with Siding and Windows Dealers Association of Canada. You should also look for their Window Wise verification, a program which independently audits and certifies replacement window manufacturers. Once you’ve agreed on a make, model, style and quote, your frames will be ordered and you’ll receive an installation date.
Step Three: Prep For Installation Day
In the days leading up to your installation date, you’ll want to take precautions to protect your home and make the install process as efficient as possible. Move furniture that obstructs window access, including blinds and curtains. Don’t forget to also move outdoor furniture and to cover any items of value that cannot be moved safely out of the way (including your floors). You may also want to consider booking a one-time cleaning post-installation to remove dust and debris from your new windows.
Step Four: Post-Installation
Once your new windows have been installed, the last step is to check each window to make sure they are in working order. In addition to opening and closing the windows, check the locks and screens. Make sure you also take the time to familiarize yourself with the warranty and store these documents somewhere safe. If applicable, don’t forget to file the necessary paperwork to claim energy rebates. Lastly, make sure to leave a review for your HomeStars pro so others can read about your experience.
From research to installation, this process can take months. We recommend getting a head start in order to ensure the best installers are available, especially considering this is a popular springtime project. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of your options, a window installation expert can walk you through the process and make recommendations based on your needs.
Cover image courtesy of CompleteHome.