What is a Replacement Window Spacer?

When you’re in the market for replacement windows, you’ll probably hear a lot about the NRFC ratings, the glass and the installation itself, but another important factor is the replacement window spacer.

What is a Replacement Window Spacer?

Any replacement window that has more than one pane of glass will have some type of spacer system.

The spacer is not simply the space between the panes of glass but it is the material that is used to hold the glass in place from between the panes. It also keeps the seal of glass air tight to keep in inert gas like argon or krypton gas.

Here you can see a triple pane glass unit with 2 spacers. The spacers are the gray pieces that separate the pieces of glass and keep the gas sealed inside.

Why is the Type of Spacer Important?

The spacer is one of the factors that affects the overall efficiency of the windows.

If the spacer is aluminum, the efficiency of the window will not be as effective as a spacer made of stainless steel (which is less conductive).

Many window manufacturers are now offering ‘warm-edge’ spacers that are generally made of a composite material. This type of spacer can help to improve the condensation rating (and by improve, we mean lower the likelihood of condensation, but you can read more about that here).

What Type of Window Spacer Should I Get?

My two cents worth is that you can ask the company you’re considering hiring if they have a some type of ‘warm-edge’ replacement window spacer. Generally the cost to upgrade should be quite nominal.

It’s included in our triple pane windows at my company, but nearly any replacement window company worth it’s salt should be able to  upgrade double pane windows with a high performance spacer as well.

Andrew Zahn is the owner of Zen Windows in Central, PA.   Andrew has worked in home improvement sales, marketing and public relations before opening his own window company.  If you’re in central PA and you’re thinking about new windows you should reach out to Andrew.  He’ll be the easiest window company you’ve ever dealt with. 

How Much Should Replacement Windows Cost?

Homeowners often come to this site looking for advice for specific models of replacement windows, recommendations on a local window installation company or advice on how to avoid these sales tactics. One of the most common questions asked is (of course) all about the money: how much should replacement windows cost?

To answer this question, you’ll have to look at a few things to compare apples to apples… or windows 🙂 by answering three basic questions:

  • What style of windows are you wanting installed?
  • What make and model of window are you choosing?
  • What material is the window made of?

What style of windows are you wanting installed?

First, the most commonly used window is a double hung window. They’re versatile, beautiful and easy to clean. Though double hung vinyl windows can vary widely in cost, look to spend between $450 (basic double pane energy star rated) to $600 or $700 for double hung windows installed with all the bells and whistles (triple pane, reinforced frames/sashes, double strength glass, foam filling etc).

double hung replacement windows
Here are some beautiful double hung windows that were recently installed by Zen windows in Central PA.

Next, casement windows (aka “crank out” style windows) and awning windows are a bit more expensive than a standard double hung windows mentioned above. Although casement windows tend to be more efficient than double hung windows, look to spend a bit more per window .

Bay and bow windows tend to be the most expensive. A quality vinyl bay or bow should range from $4,000 – $6,000 depending on options, colors, sizes and styles. Some bays and bows do not need a roof installed because they are under awnings and can be installed into the soffit. If a roof is required, that will add to the cost.

What make and model of replacement window are you choosing?

Though we won’t spend a ton of time discussing different makes and models of windows since you can check out dozens of them here, there are a few basics to consider when considering a replacement windows cost structure.

Ask yourself:

-Am I paying for a quality window from a reputable manufacturer or am I paying for an expensive marketing campaign?

-Has this company been manufacturing windows for a long time and do they run the risk of going out of business (and therefore will not have any warranty?) You may even want to ask if the manufacturer is a debt-free company.

-Am I paying hundreds of extra dollars per window simply for a brand name or could I get an equal quality (or better) quality window from another reputable manufacturer?  (think about when you’ve chosen a generic prescription at the pharmacy rather than an expensive brand name) 

What material is the window made of?

Finally, the cost of your replacement windows can also hinge largely on the type of material you choose.

Expect to pay more for wood windows, composite windows and windows with cladding of different materials.

Other legitimate factors that can cause the price of your windows to go up are:

  • If your home was built prior to 1978. Due to EPA guidelines, companies that work on homes build before 1978 are required to be certified. There are added charges associated with the installations.
  • A window that is one color on the interior and a different color on the exterior substantially increases the price. Though beautiful, expect these charges to increase the cost of your project from $100-$200 per window.
  • Some companies have a surcharge for any work that is completed above two stories. Though my company doesn’t charge this fee,  other companies do.
  • Even reputable companies often have minimum orders they will accept to install usually ranging between 2 to 5 window minimum orders. If you are under than minimum order, you may be charged slightly extra so be sure to ask to avoid these charges.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post! We welcome your comments and will do our best to get back to you with any questions you may have!

Andrew Zahn is the owner of Zen Windows in Central, PA.   Andrew has worked in home improvement sales, marketing and public relations before opening his own window company.  If you’re in central PA and you’re thinking about new windows you should reach out to Andrew.  He’ll be the easiest window company you’ve ever dealt with.