Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Window

With over 35 years combined experience in the window business, we’ve worked with many customers to find the right window for their needs. As you move forward with your research, ask yourself what factors are most important to you as a homeowner.  Is matching a particular design aesthetic your primary goal?  Do you prize extreme energy efficiency above all other considerations?  Do you prefer a window with a lifetime warranty that will last for many years to come?  How important is price in making your final decision?  We’ve created a list below of the most common factors homeowners consider when choosing new windows.  The clearer you are about what’s most important to you at the beginning of the window shopping process, the easier it will be to choose the window that best meets your needs.

Budget

For many customers, their spending plan is an important factor in determining which replacement window or door they choose. Some window companies offer only one type of replacement window; others offer a variety of brands and materials at a range of price points that work with many different budgets.  Knowing what you’re able to spend on your project will help you rule out some companies and focus on others.

Selection

Some window companies offer a variety of choices while others have only one window material or brand to offer. The goal of a one-size-fits-all window company will be to convince you that their window is the best and that it’s exactly the right window for you.  Although this may be true in some cases, it’s certainly not true in all.  There are four main materials used in residential replacement windows today:  wood, vinyl, fiberglass, and composite (a blend of more than one material, i.e. wood and vinyl).  The wider the selection of window materials to choose from, the more likely you will end up with the window that’s the best fit for your needs.

Window Quality

Let’s face it: all building materials are not created equal, and windows are no exception.  For some clients, a premium quality window is of the utmost importance; for others, not so much.  In many cases, the higher the quality, the higher the initial price tag.  Higher quality windows will often outlast other brands, so your long-term savings could certainly be worth the up-front investment.  Will you live in the home for many years to come, or are you focused on a short-term solution?  These are all things to consider when looking at the different window brands available.

Design

Some homeowners will start their window research with a specific design aesthetic in mind.  Owners of condominiums and historic homes will usually have to follow certain guidelines when choosing which window to install.  Alternately, your home style or location may demand that you work within specific architectural parameters in order to maintain the integrity of the design; such is the case with Craftsman style homes, or regions like Cape Cod.  Only certain types of windows will look right in these instances, and you want to be sure you’re working with a window installer who can match your home’s design needs.

 Performance

Energy efficiency, U-factor, Solar heat gain coefficient, double-glazed, impact resistant, egress windows, condensation resistance, air leakage, visible transmittance…are you confused yet? These are all words that can be used to describe how a window will perform.  Sometimes online research can leave you with more questions than answers.  All residential replacement windows installed today will need to meet certain basic standards for energy efficiency.  Some homes require specific performance features based on their location, like coastal impact windows for homes located within a certain distance from the ocean.  Additionally, some homeowners may opt for certain features based on what’s important to them (i.e. triple-glazed windows for more energy efficiency; windows with more sound proofing for busy urban areas).  A good window professional will explain your options in language that’s easy to understand, and will make recommendations based on the needs and wants of both home and homeowner.

 Warranty

The terms of a warranty can mean the difference between a good purchase and a great purchase. When choosing a window for your home, be sure to explore the different warranties available.  Common warranty lengths are:  10 year, 20 year, and lifetime.  Many companies have different warranty lengths for different parts of the window (glass seal, frame, hardware, or moving parts).  Not all warranties cover glass breakage, but you can sometimes add that at the time of purchase.  Labor and installation warranties are another aspect to watch out for.  These would usually be offered by the company that installed your windows, and are often a sign that the installer is very confident in their work.

Customer Reviews

Before making any final decisions, we HIGHLY recommend you read reviews by previous customers as part of your research. Angie’s List (which now has a free membership option), Better Business Bureau, Consumer Reports, HomeAdvisor, The Window Dog…there are many websites out there that can help you see who it is that you’ll be inviting into your home.  Read the responses from each company to get a balanced view of complaints and to see how they handle issues.  No company is perfect, and seeing how they handle problems is important should any unforeseen issues arise with your installation.

 Buying Experience

It often doesn’t take more than a couple of appointments for customers to realize that ‘buying experience’ may be one of the most important factors in choosing a window company.  Some window companies employ hard-core sales tactics or focus on bashing other window brands to make their own look better.  Their salesmen may wear you down over the course of several hours or offer a “sign now for huge savings that go away tomorrow!” sort of deal that makes you feel like you have no choice.  Other companies will aim to educate you rather than scare you, and will honor their price quote for a full 30 days after your consultation.  These companies are interested in providing a professional buying experience backed with exceptional customer service.  We encourage you to meet with more than one company so you can see the difference for yourself.

 Company Features

A final question for homeowners to ask themselves is “Who do I want to install my windows?” Do you prefer to work with a large chain business, or would you rather work with a locally-owned company?  What, if any, kind of labor and installation warranty does the company offer?  Are window installations their specialty, or is the company more of a jack-of-all trades?  Do they employ their own installers or do they subcontract their installations out?  Choose your windows and your installer wisely and you will be satisfied with your purchase for years to come.

Nicole Spano is the CEO of United Better Homes in Pawtucket, RI.  United is a leading installer of replacement windows in the Rhode Island area and they’re our recommended company in the area.  If you’re anywhere near The Ocean State I’d recommend you give them a ring.  

Update: We now have more recommend LOCAL window companies than ever before.   Click here to see who we recommend in your town.  It's 100% free.  You'll thank me.  There is no better resource; you're going to love it.  See for yourself right here.  

17 thoughts on “Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Window”

  1. I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do for my windows. It makes sense that I would want to ensure that I get ones that are high quality! I want to ensure that the ones I have are good at keeping the cold air out.

  2. We need new windows, and I am trying to decide which type to go with. We want them to look good, but we also want them to be energy efficient. Which feature do you think would be more important to focus on? they are both equally important to us, so we want what will be best for our home.

    1. Well, most vinyl replacement windows are going to have a similar look. Some have thicker frames and some thinner, but the overall look and feel is pretty similar.

      As far as efficiency, you can easily compare the ratings to see which products make the most sense for your situation. I’d start with Energy Star qualified options and you can get more efficient from there.

  3. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that performance, such as energy efficiency and sound proofing, is a major consideration when choosing windows. My husband and I just moved into an older home, and the windows here are single glazed, so we’d like to put in something more energy efficient. We’ll definitely look at that as well as sound proofing when we’re choosing a replacement. Thanks for the great post!

  4. I know I need to replace my windows, but I don’t have a huge budget. So I like how you mention that knowing what you’re able to spend on your windows will help you rule out some choices and allow you to focus on others that are in your price range. I also think that choosing one at the top of the price range you have will probably ensure that it is better quality and will therefore last longer.

  5. Thank you for all this great information about choosing a window company! One thing that really stood out to me is that you say to find someone that will explain your options in a language that is easy to understand. Since we don’t know anything about windows, that would be a nice feature to have.

  6. I like that you mentioned that you should look into new windows that have a good warranty. If I am going to pay to have windows put in or repaired, I want to make sure that they will last, and be taken care of if something goes wrong. My wife and I have been thinking about having some new windows put in, so we will keep this in mind.

  7. It really helped when you talked about reading online reviews when choosing a new window. I can see that taking the time to do a little homework can help anyone find the best material to help them save energy and provide adequate light from the outside. My wife wants to have our bedroom window changed since it doesn’t stop sound very well so I will make sure to read reviews before we buy.

  8. Right now my husband and I are looking to replace the windows in our home. We want to make sure we have energy efficient and stylish windows. As you mentioned, looking at the quality is an important aspect to consider including the balance between price and quality. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I like that you talk about how it’s a good idea to take your home style and location into consideration when choosing a window design so you can choose one that is easy to maintain and matches the overall look. In order to do this, you’d probably want to research different replacement companies and look at examples of their options. Comparing these to your home could help you find one that will work with the size, shape, and design of the window so you can choose one that is able to be properly installed and will improve your house.

  10. Thank you for mentioning how you should take into account the type of home and the location where you live when choosing a new window. It is important to remember that taking the time to do this can help you find the best type of window for your home. My son broke one of our windows yesterday and we want to make we find a good professional who can help us choose and replace it, so I’m glad I found your post.

  11. I’ve been looking at getting some new window installation done. I’m glad you talked about how you should look at energy efficiency for windows. I’m going to have to look for some high quality windows and find a good installation service.

  12. Aesthetics are pretty important to keep in mind when you’re choosing new windows for your home. After all, you will want to make sure that the new ones fit with the rest of the style of your home. That way they don’t stand out too much or you don’t have to worry about redoing the style on the rest of your home.

  13. My brother was talking about needing to get a few windows replaced around his house. He mentioned thinking about impact windows because he lives in an area that has tropical storms and hurricanes. I liked how you talked about the importance of performance and how you want your windows to function. I think that it is definitely something my brother has been thinking about and that would be important to keep in mind while choosing the best replacement.

  14. Thanks for the suggestion to consider performance when choosing new windows. My husband and I want to get storm windows for our home soon. Your article helped me know what to prioritize as we shop!

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