Installing new windows can seem daunting and expensive, but it offers serious benefits. Upgrading older windows can improve the look and value of your home and save on monthly utility costs. On average, a third of the heat loss in your home is through the windows. This is also a project that can be tackled on your own or with the aid of a contractor, often for close to the same cost. Before you break out your hammer and nails, let's go over a few preliminary steps that can ensure this upgrade is a success.
First, you need to know what you have to know what you need to replace. This may seem simple, but there are a few finicky details that often elude homeowners when they first inquire about installing new windows. To measure, you want to take the length and width from the exterior frame of each window. Take the width from three places: the center point and a few inches in from each side. Do the same for the length. Windows warp and twist over time as the house settles around them which can change their dimensions. Use the smallest measurement as your baseline and you'll be ensured a good fit.
Make a note of the details of each window as you measure them. You'll want to know the type of window (casement, slider, double-hung, fixed, etc.) and which direction it opens, if it does. It's also useful to know if your existing windows are aluminum, wood, or vinyl, and whether or not they are single or double-paned. Note the location and floor level of each window, as well. Note the color, especially if you plan on only replacing a few of your windows at once. If you are unsure of what type of window you have, visit the website of any window manufacturer or dealership for images.
Now that you have measurements, you are ready to explore showrooms and get quotes. Before you go, however, take a bit of time to educate yourself on different window materials and styles. Before you enter a showroom, take a bit of time to look at different window materials and styles. Learn the differences between an aluminum frame, a vinyl frame, and a wood frame. Each material has unique benefits and downsides. Aluminum is not as energy efficient, but some prefer the clean, minimalist look and range of colors possible with it. Vinyl is inexpensive and very energy efficient, but is bulky and has limited color options. Wood is expensive and harder to maintain, but energy efficient and strikingly beautiful. Sliders and single-hung windows are the most common frames, but there are many other options that may better suit your space. Knowing what you want will help you navigate the sales conversation with greater confidence.
Quite often, particularly for those who are doing self-installations, window upgrades will happen piecemeal. You may choose only to install the front, downstairs windows at first, for example. Or you may do the front windows in a more expensive option, like wood, and finish the rest as vinyl. Knowing which windows are where can save you time and headaches during the ordering process.
When you are ready to order, shop around. Get quotes from multiple window dealerships. They are generally happy to provide you with a printed quote detailing each window you plan to acquire for your home and the costs for DIY or professional install. Note that some manufacturers will void warranties if you self-install. Also, custom ordered sizes generally take a few weeks to deliver. Plan accordingly.
If you choose to install it yourself, take advantage of the many available resources. There are lots of online guides and videos online that will walk you through the process for free. Your local hardware store may run live, hands-on demonstrations as well. If you want something on hand while you are working, DIY books often contain useful cost-saving tips along with the instructions. Whether self-installed or professionally-installed, new windows improve the comfort and attractiveness of your home for decades to come.
(1) - http://www.nrdc.org/living/energy/energy-out-window.asp