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HomeAdvisor's Guide to Hiring a Window Contractor

Windows are as much an aesthetic component to your home as a functional one. As well as allowing light in, they can also enhance the appearance of your house and add to the “curb appeal”. However, like anything with moving parts they can wear out and stop functioning correctly, or they can start to look “dated”.

Questions to Ask Your Window Contractor

As with any contracted job, you don’t want to hand it off to just anybody. You want to be sure the person you are hiring is someone you feel comfortable with. After all, your home is a major investment and you want to give it the best treatment you can. Here are some questions you should ask of any window contractor:

  1. How long have you been in business? – Companies that don’t do good work don’t stay around very long. Three to five years is a good amount of time, but don’t forget to ask about the contractor’s experience with your type of windows.
  2. Do you subcontract or have your own crew? – A contractor with his own crew usually indicates that they have enough work year-round to require a steady crew. However, if subcontractors are used, be sure to meet with them to make sure you communicate effectively and that you feel comfortable with the subcontractor. Also be clear on who to go to if there’s a problem or change in plans.
  3. What kind of warranty do you provide? – The windows themselves should come with a factory warranty, but you want a contractor who will stand behind his or her workmanship as well. Be sure to learn who to go to for issues after the work is complete.
  4. Can you give me references? –Look for referrals that are within the past year to see how the work looks for recent jobs. If you can, talk to the people and ask how well the crew worked, if they looked and behaved professionally, and if they would use them again.
  5. Do you have insurance? – Any time work is being done around your home there is a chance for injury. If a contractor doesn’t have coverage for his or her crew, any injuries on your property will be your responsibility. Don’t take this chance.
  6. How would approach my job? – This question is aimed at giving you insight into how the contractor does business.
  7. Do you work in bad weather? – It’s not always easy to work in inclement weather, but a good contractor will know how to isolate the work-site so that you don’t have to wait out the bad weather with a gaping hole in your wall.
  8. Do you or your crew have any extra certifications? – Going the extra yard to get additional certifications shows an interest in the work they do. It also indicates someone who is not settling for the bare minimum requirements.
  9. How much repeat business do you get? – Some remodels are done in phases. A contractor who is called back to handle several phases enjoys the trust of his or her clients.

Finally, be sure to find out how long before the installation is started and about how long the job should take. When you get a quote, see if interior finishing is included. Not all contractors include this, so don’t assume it’s included just because it wasn’t brought up.

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Replacing Windows

The decision to replace a window should not be done on a lark. It can be a fairly expensive and involved project. A more in-depth look can help you decide if you should replace a window or if you can save money by repairing it.

Rotten Wood

The wood that the frame is made of can rot if it has been painted or primed incorrectly. It can also suffer if the wood wasn’t seasoned correctly at the mill. Also, wood that is constantly exposed to humidity, not just rain and dew but also lawn sprinklers, can deteriorate quickly even if it’s been treated properly.

  • Rotten wood can let in drafts and moisture. It can also promote the growth of mold on and between your walls. Various pests will make their homes in rotten wood, and as wood rots it falls apart and will lead to broken panes and holes in your house.
  • Look to see how rotted it is. Rot can sometimes look worse than it is. If the sill or the part that divides the window into panes, called a muntin, is rotten in spots, you can save money by using an epoxy (about $25.00). However, extensive rotting or a rotten frame should be replaced.
  • Find out what caused the rot in the first place. If you don’t remedy the cause of the rot, it won’t be long before you’re repairing or replacing your windows all over again.

Broken Panes

The glass part of a window is called a pane. The reasons they can break are numerous and classic. A stray baseball hit by the neighborhood future major league all-star is the scenario that most often comes to mind. Storms can blow debris against the panes, and on a hot day the shock of cold water, as from a garden hose, against a hot window can cause it to crack or shatter.

There is no repairing the glass. It must be replaced. Glass can cost from $3.00 to $14.00 per square foot depending on the type (plain, tinted, coated, textured, etc.). The sash may also need replacing. The sash is the frame that holds the pane. Depending on how the window got broken, the sash can be broken or bent.

Broken Seals

Windows expand and contract with swings in temperature. This can cause seals to crack and fail, leaving condensation free to build up between the panes in double- or triple-pane windows. Double- and triple-pane windows are sometimes filled with insulating gases like argon and krypton. When seals crack, this gas escapes. If the gas escapes faster than air can rush in, the resulting vacuum can cause at least one pane to implode.

Because of the costs and complexities involved in repairing the pane (including the varying costs of gases), it’s best to replace the sash entirely.

Sticky Windows

Almost everyone has encountered a window that refuses to open or puts up a fight in order to close. Reasons for this include:

  • Frames, sills, and sashes have been painted over. The paint must be chipped away with a putty knife. Old paint and putty must then be scraped off and sanded for a smooth operation.
  • Paint can sometimes ruin hardware. If your windows are old enough, the hardware might not be able to be replaced. If this is the case, you should consider replacing the window rather than have one that doesn’t work.
  • If your house was built before 1978, be wary of lead-based paints. You may want to hire a professional if you suspect lead.
  • Windows can become stuck due to dirt in the tracks. A simple cleaning is usually all that’s needed for this situation, but if the window has been forced to close in spite of the debris, there could be damage to the sash. If you clean your tracks and the window still doesn’t shut right, call a handyman to take a look at it. The sash may be bent.

Drafty Windows

Drafts coming in through your windows are often caused by old weather stripping, though you should check for rotted wood (see above). Old caulking can also allow air through, as can loose sashes.

Assuming the wood is in fine shape, a tube of painter’s caulk costs about $1.75 and can easily fix small leaks. Weather stripping is replaceable at $8.00 to $10.00 a foot. Sash replacement can cost between $40.00 and $250.00.

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Other Reasons to Replace Windows

Since the above situations are relatively easy to repair in most cases, why would you replace your windows? There are several reasons, some of which have been covered above. Let’s recap:

  • Difficult to Clean – Cleaning windows isn’t anybody’s favorite chore, but some windows can get stained over time due to nearby industries or because of a coastal location.  The design of the window can also cause cleaning difficulties. A second-story window that requires someone to hang outside of the window for cleaning is a safety hazard for anyone. Whether because of permanent staining or for safety reasons, the window may need to be replaced with something more resistant to environmental effects or something that swings inward for easier cleaning.
  • Replacement Parts – Especially troublesome in older homes, the part that needs replacing just may not be available anymore. While simple hardware like locks and latches can be changed for a newer design, weights and other needed mechanical components may have been discontinued in favor of newer designs or materials. You may have to replace the window because the replacement parts no longer exist.
  • Style – Especially if you have recently remodeled your house, your old windows may look dated or just not fit the looks of your house. You could be restoring a Victorian and want to replace the inexpensive vinyl windows with something that retains the vintage look of the house.
  • Security – You might consider replacing an opening window in a little-used room with a solid window, especially if the window opens too easily. If obscured from the street, such windows offer potential access for burglars and other criminals. A window that can be worked open quietly draws less attention than one that must be broken.
  • Energy efficiency – If you only have one or two leaking windows, patching a leak should be enough to reduce your energy bills by 10%. However, redoing your whole house in energy-efficient windows can reduce your bills by 7% to 15% and get you some rebates.

Whether you choose to replace or repair your windows is up to you. Remember that anything involving the actual window frame itself, the part that is inside the wall, should only be done by a licensed professional.

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Common Window Repairs

DIY Repairs

Many common window problems are repairable by the homeowner. The cost and ease of various DIY repairs can vary depending on the nature of the problem and the materials used, but doing it yourself costs significantly less than hiring a pro. There are some repairs that should only be handled by a licensed contractor, but for now here are some repairs you can do yourself:

  • Rotten Sill: A rotten sill can be replaced by cutting away the rotted part until you get to the good wood. Use the old piece as a template and cut a new piece to match. If your sill has a specific look, you may need slightly more specialized tools, but these are available at any hardware store. There’s a chance that the rotting may go to the frame of the window. If that’s the case, the whole window will need to be replaced.
  • Latches: If your window has latches, normal shifting in a structure over the years may make them lose their alignment. This repair is as simple as moving the latch hardware. The most complex part of this job is the chiseling away of the wood so that the latch sits flush and doesn’t hamper the window’s ability to close.
  • Panes: Removing a broken pane of glass is easy, but remember to wear goggles and gloves to protect yourself from bits of glass. Wear appropriate shoes and place a drop-cloth to catch any glass that falls. Cover the broken pane with masking tape to keep flying glass to a minimum and tap the glass with the butt of a hammer, not the head, in order to loosen it. Remove the larger pieces next and then, with pliers, remove the smaller pieces. Scrape any remaining putty and apply primer to any exposed wood. You can now replace the pane. Note that large panes of glass, such as picture windows, are safest being replaced by a professional.
  • Drafts: A drafty window probably wasn’t properly insulated. To fix this, simply pop off the inside trim and use spray foam to close the gaps. Test the spray foam someplace outside to see how fast and how much it expands, first. Some spray foam comes out quite fast and expands greatly.
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When to Call A Contractor

While many window problems are easily fixed by the homeowner, some require more skill than most people have. You should call a contractor if:

  • The job involves the frame inside the wall. This frame does more than hold your window casement; it provides structural integrity to the wall itself. Whether it’s rotted or if you’ve decided to install a larger window, there are specialized skills needed to alter this structural component to avoid the wall falling down.
  • Any aspect of the job requires a permit. Check with your local permitting department to see if your job requires a permit. Simply replacing a single pane of glass may not need a permit, but some municipalities require one if you’re replacing the casement.
  • You are installing a window where there was none before. Certain reinforcements will need to be put in to make sure the wall remains standing. The only exception to this is when installing an egress window in a full basement, but even this has certain required steps to maintain safety.
  • You are physically unable to do the job. You may prefer to do things for yourself, but there’s no sense hurting yourself over a window. Some jobs can be done by a handyman, such as most common repairs. Larger jobs that require special skills or equipment or that cost over $500.00 should be handled by a licensed contractor.
  • Your windows are not of a standard size or shape. Most windows are rectangular in shape, but certain homes may have round, octagonal, or even triangular panes. A contractor will know how to measure for these odd windows and will be able to tell you if your window is available “off the shelf” or will have to be custom cut.
  • There’s an increased chance of injury. This is not as selfish as it sounds. Contractors know how to handle dangerous jobs safely. They also should have the insurance to cover accidents. If you do it yourself or have a friend help out and either of you gets hurt, you are responsible for any expenses.
  • It’s critical the job be done right. Of course you want your windows to be installed properly, but if you’re upgrading your house for a potential sale, there may not be time for do-overs. A contractor with a team can install new windows quickly and correctly, and any mistakes should be covered by the contractor and not come out of your pocket.
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Types of Windows to Install or Repair


Egress windows are windows that are sized and placed specifically for purposes of getting out of a building. They are required in bedrooms and, if you convert your basement into a bedroom, you must include egress windows even if it involves digging around your foundation to get the proper sized window installed.

The size of an egress window varies according to each municipality’s codes, but the exact size is designed not only that you can get out easily, but also that a fireman fully loaded with gear can easily get in. Generally, an egress window must have 5 to 5.7 square feet of net opening and be no more than 44 inches off the floor.

Installing an egress window is simple in its plan but complex in its execution. To install egress windows in your basement, you have:

  • To mark off where the window is going to go
  • Excavate the area on the other side of the wall
  • Cut through the wall
  • Frame and install the window
  • Secure the area outside the window by walling the dirt back
  • Install a ladder or stairs

It’s best to have a contractor install egress windows for the simple fact that they will get the job done right. However, if you can’t afford a contractor but are good with tools, kits are available that have all of the templates, liners for the exit area outside the window, ladders, etc. All you’ll need to supply are the tools. These kits cost around $900.00 for a basic design.

Older homes and home that have had rooms converted into bedrooms may have windows that don’t meet the code for egress windows. This situation should be corrected as soon as possible. Not having proper egress windows is dangerous and even deadly. You’re not doing yourself any favors by not replacing substandard bedroom windows with proper egress windows. Egress windows by themselves cost from $200.00 to $900.00. Professional installation brings the price up to $1,100.00 to $2,600.00. It’s a small price to pay to make sure your family can out or that emergency responders can get in.

Glass Block Windows

Glass block windows look like a wall made out of ice cubes. They afford a good amount of privacy and security while letting plenty of light in. They have a very pleasing aesthetic, a classic look for mid-century homes and, quite by accident, are energy efficient! They also:

  • Have a hollow interior that serves as insulation
  • Are Energy-Star compliant as-is with no additions or modifications needed
  • Be vented to allow airflow
  • Are very popular as basement and bathroom windows.

Installing glass blocks is not unlike masonry work.

  • Once in place, they will be very hard to move.
  • As they cement right into the wall, there is no wood to rot or mold.
  • They are sealed and water-tight.
  • Though the glass is fairly thick, they can still be damaged by impacts with heavy objects, and if not resealed every five years can lose their water- and air-tightness.

Repairing a glass block window is relatively easy, but it’s best to let a professional do it to make sure the sealant and mortar blend in seamlessly with the surrounding blocks. Individual blocks sell for around $12.50 each. The cost of glass block windows varies according to size and pattern in the glass as well as the addition of vents. Prices can be as low as $80.00 and as high as over $400.00


Skylights, especially energy-efficient ones, can lower your utility bills by reducing the need to turn on the lights so early. They brighten up an otherwise dull room and add to the value of your home. Tubular skylights are often used as accents or to bring daylight into a small, dark space, such as an interior hallway. Skylights, however, are also prone to leaking if not maintained or if improperly installed. Flashing and sealing can peel up or deteriorate, allowing water into your attic space and ceiling. They can break if hit with a heavy object, such as branches blown down during a windstorm.

A cracked or leaking skylight can often be fixed by the homeowner for little more than the cost of sealant and/or flashing ($5.00 for a small tube of sealer patch to $150.00 for new flashing and 3 gallons of rubberized sealer). Professional repair for most skylight problems costs from $300.00 to $500.00.

Stained Glass

For over a thousand years stained glass has almost always been associated with churches and other socially significant buildings. Stained glass in private homes became popular with the stained glass revival of the Victorian era and remains a popular feature to this day.

Early residential stained glass was limited to fixed windows. The framework for the stained glass was heavy and could distort easily through repeated opening and closing. Modern techniques and materials have made today’s stained glass work quite well on moveable frames. Stained glass can now be used on any window, but be careful; limited use of stained glass makes an otherwise boring room come to life, but too much of it can look garish!

Stained glass most often suffers from one of three different problems: broken panes, cracked grouting, and warping. These must be repaired by someone who is specialized in working with stained glass, as the technique to keep it looking gorgeous is an art.

  • Broken Panes – Most of the time, a broken pane can be replaced without having to remove the whole window. Repairs may be quoted by the piece or by the hour depending on the size of the piece or by how long the glazier figures it will take to replace.
  • Cracked Grouting – It’s possible that the whole panel (the proper phrase for the entire stained glass portion) is intact but the weather stripping or grout has become old and cracked. The panel can be removed and the old grout cleaned up and replaced quite easily by someone who knows what they’re doing. This is probably the least expensive repair for stained glass.
  • Warping – Multiple cracks in the panes can cause warped panels, and warped panels can cause multiple cracks in the panes. Either way, the whole panel must be taken out and rebuilt.

The cost for these repairs varies depending on how elaborate the panel is and whether it is stained glass or leadlight glass. (The primary difference between the two besides the style of design in the glass is the way in which the coloring is attained.) On average, repairs cost between $198.00 and $400.00 with an average of $285.00.

Storm Windows

Storm windows are additions to your existing window. They add a layer of protection against the elements and form an air and noise barrier. Many historic buildings install storm windows over historic stained glass for protection and to prevent dirt and pollutants from damaging the stained glass. They can be installed inside or outside.

Storm windows are easily installed and do not affect the “correctness” of a period home with heirloom windows. No carpentry is needed, no structural changes occur, and installation can be done in an afternoon. The most common problem a storm window experiences is a weakening of the clips that hold the window in place. These are inexpensive, costing from $4.00 to $5.00 each. Simply remove the old hardware, fix any cracks with putty, and install the new ones.

The average cost for a storm window is about $135.00 by itself. They can be professionally installed for around $300.00.

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Window Accessories

With the exception of glass block and stained glass, not many people simply put a window in and leave it at that. Accessories for windows include blinds, drapes, curtains, shutters, and tinting.

  • Blinds: Blinds have a clean, modern look that allows a great deal of control over how much sunlight is allowed in. Fully closed they can provide practically total privacy. They are available in wide-slat or narrow slat (called miniblinds). Wide-slat varieties come in horizontal and vertical orientation. They are also available in a variety of colors and finishes.
    • The most common reason to replace blinds is due to bending or breaking of the slats. This is especially common in households with small children or active pets. Staining and overly-tangled cords vie for the second most common reason to replace them.
    • Mini-blinds can vary in price from $3.50 to $47.00. The low end is for off-the-shelf vinyl blinds, while the high end is for custom cut vinyl blinds. Different materials and finishes can affect the cost.
    • Regular horizontal blinds are most often done in wood finishes whether real wood or faux wood. Prices range from $10.00 for off-the-shelf faux wood to $200.00 for custom-cut real wood.
    • Vertical blinds are most often used on sliding glass doors, though smaller ones are available. They typically cost from $25.00 off-the-shelf to $150.00 for custom-cut blinds.
  • Curtains/Drapes: Some people use “curtains” and “drapes” interchangeably, but the two are very different. Curtains are light and sometimes made of sheer fabrics. They provide a minimal amount of privacy and are often paired with blinds to provide an option of privacy without looking bulky. Drapes are heavier and often lined. Closing the drapes will block out almost all light.
    • Curtains are often used in kitchens and dining rooms. Some bathrooms without textured windows will also use an easy-to-clean curtain to provide a degree of privacy while allowing sunlight in.
    • Drapes are found more often where privacy is more desired, such as living rooms and bedrooms. They usually are bought floor-length though some people prefer shorter drapes for the bedroom.
    • The cost of curtains and drapes depends on a lot of factors including size, design, fabric, number of panels, and where you buy them from. You can pay as little as $7.00 for a cheap single panel curtain for a small bathroom window to as much as $1,500.00 for designer custom-ordered drapes.
  • Shutters: Shutters are available for both the interior and the exterior. Interior shutters are sometimes called “Plantation” shutters and open and close by a central tilt bar. Exterior shutters are hinged and swing closed.
    • Off-the-shelf vinyl interior shutters cost between $20.00 and $150.00 with the price largely influenced by size and material, usually vinyl. Wooden shutters made from inexpensive wood and made to measure can cost from $150.00 to $300.00. Custom made shutters made from exotic or specialty woods can cost up to $700.00 or more.
    • Vinyl interior shutters suffer most from discoloration due to the sun’s rays. It usually takes a few years to see any noticeable effect, but a simple coat of UV-resistant paint renews your shutters. For an even coat, remove the shutter and use spray paint outside.
    • Wooden interior shutters are more likely to suffer from loose staples holding the tilt bar. If one comes out, the cost to replace it is negligible. Just bend an old staple gun staple into the correct shape and tap it in.
    • Exterior shutters cost from $20.00 to $200.00 per pair of panels. They can be made of vinyl or wood and usually include all of the necessary mounting hardware. Of course, hand-crafted designer shutters can be had for as much as $4,000.00, but aside from looks, they are no different in the amount of protection and privacy provided as less expensive shutters. Their biggest advantage is that they can be made to match existing shutters on a historic or period home.
    • The average cost to repair an exterior shutter is around $150.00. This usually involves replacing lost or damaged slats or re-hanging a shutter that has come loose.
    • Storm shutters cost $40.00 to $100.00 for metal shutters and from $50.00 to $400.00 per panel for certified reinforced fabric hurricane shutters.
  • Window Tinting: Tinted windows aren’t just for cars. Home window tinting has been around for years and can help reduce your heating and cooling costs. Some varieties turn your windows in one-way glass, providing you excellent views outside while keeping your interior nice and private.
    • Window tinting is most commonly bought by the roll from any hardware store. With no special skills needed to install it combined with a very affordable price, window tint is a very popular accessory for many home owners,
    • Window tint costs from $20.00 to $40.00 per roll (sized for an average window), depending on the qualities you want. Some people want the extra dark tints for privacy while others are more concerned about the insulating qualities.
    • The largest problem for home window tinting is improper installation. If the glass wasn’t cleaned properly, the film can fail to stick. Bubbles can also remain under the film if it wasn’t carefully applied. To avoid these problems, have a professional installer handle it. They usually charge from $5.00 to $10.00 per square foot, depending on your region.
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Window Styles & Materials

Windows come in many different styles besides a rectangular piece of glass in a frame. There are fixed windows, single hung, double hung, sliding, casement, bay windows, bow windows, and countless specialty-type windows. The most common ones you will encounter are:

  • Fixed Windows – Fixed windows are windows that sit in their frame and do not open. They are usually there just to allow light in. An example of this type of window can often be found along stairs that are set along an exterior wall.
  • Single hung – The top of the single hung window is fixed while the lower part slides up and down.
  • Double hung – A double hung is just like a single hung except that both the upper and lower parts move.
  • Sliding – A sliding window is similar to a single hung window except that the window moves horizontally.
  • Casement – Casement windows are hinged. Normally hinged at the side to open either inward or outward, some can be hinged at the top (called awning windows for their resemblance to awnings) while others are hinged at the bottom (called hoppers for their resemblance to coal chutes that were called coal hoppers). Casement windows are the most common type for basement egress windows.
  • Bay Windows – A bay window consists of three panes: a large single pane and two smaller panes that may be casement windows.
  • Bow Windows – A bow window is similar to a bay window, but it is usually made up of 5 or more panes with a graceful arc, hence the name “bow”.

As well as different styles of windows, you can also select different materials for the sills, muntins, sashes, etc. The different materials will have different costs and maintenance requirements, so think about your budget and your time when making a selection.

  • Aluminum – Aluminum is strong and sturdy. It has a very low maintenance requirement, but it’s not considered a good insulator. They can cost around $200.00 for a 36”x36” window.
  • Vinyl – Vinyl is affordable and provides good insulation, but colors tend to be limited. It can be painted, but routine maintenance on the paint will be required. Vinyl can cost around $165.00 for a 36”x36” window.
  • Wood – Wood is a very popular choice for its natural look, but it can suffer from the elements if not treated properly. It’s fairly high maintenance, requiring sealing and painting to avoid molds, rot, and insects. Wood windows can cost around $300.00 for a 36”x36” window
  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass is a relatively new and very strong material for windows. Like vinyl, the color selection can be limited. Fiberglass windows typically go for around $315.00 for a 36”x36” window.
  • Steel – Steel windows are very strong and durable. They provide clean lines that are perfect for a modern home. However, they can be a bit expensive at $350.00 to $400.00 for a 36”x36” window.
  • Plastic – Plastic windows are low maintenance and very affordable. The typical price for a 36”x36” window is around $180.00.
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How Much Should New Windows Cost?

New windows can cost from a couple of hundred dollars each to over a thousand dollars each depending on type, size, and materials used. Average window costs are often based on vinyl windows due to their popularity. To give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for the different types of windows, regard the list below:

  • Fixed Windows – $90.00 to $162.00. Fixed windows have no moving parts and are usually found as picture windows or as small windows intended to provide a little lighting.
  • Single hung – $140.00 to $260.00. Most often used on the ground floor where cleaning the top sash is not considered dangerous. They are usually of a smaller size and found over kitchen sinks.
  • Double hung – $180.00 to $325.00. Because the upper sash opens as well as the lower, these windows are often found where space is limited but improved airflow is desired, such as a small bedroom.
  • Sliding – $120.00 to $400.00. Sliders are found most often in bedrooms where they can be sized to serve as a proper egress window. Small sliders are also often found in small bathrooms serving to vent humidity from the shower.
  • Casement – $330.00 to $700.00. Casement windows are found pretty much any place in a house that has a little room to spare. They can hinge inward or outward, from the top or from the bottom. They provide excellent airflow.
  • Bay Windows – $575.00 to $800.00. Bay windows are usually found in living rooms or family gathering rooms. Rectangular or trapezoidal in shape, they can add a little extra space to a room because they can extend outwards quite a ways.
  • Bow Windows – $1,500 to $2,500. The actual cost of a bow window can get quite high depending on the size and number of panes desired. Because they form an arc, they can be designed to wrap around a corner. A bow window’s graceful curve can make it more appealing than a bay window.

The typical house has about ten windows altogether. Assuming a house that doesn’t have specialty windows like bow or bay windows, the total cost to replace all of the windows in your house can run from $2,000 to $7,000. If any wood is rotted and needs to be replaced, or if other such complications arise, the cost could go up to as high as $12,000.00. Be sure to ask your contractor if interior finish work and clean up are included in their estimate.

There are other factors that can influence the final cost of your window installation. The three biggest are season, availability and practicality.

  • Season - Spring and summer are very popular times for any home improvement project. The weather is warmer and the days are longer, so many people take advantage of this to get things done. This also means that contractors are at their busiest. Work begins to slow down in autumn, but the rainy days can hamper working conditions. Winter is usually the best time to get deals as many jobs are practically non-existent. Remember, though, that if you live in a snowy area, the job may become difficult and more expensive. Know your region’s weather patterns to get the best deals.
  • Availability - Some contractors, especially the very good ones, are in high demand. You can expect to pay more for a contractor who has to squeeze you into the schedule. You can sometimes get a good deal from someone who is new to the business and doesn’t have a full schedule. While you may not know the full extent of the quality of workmanship, you can usually negotiate with a contractor who is hungry for clients.
  • Practicality - If your home is in a remote location you can expect to pay for travel time and delivery of materials. Be sure to check with your contractor about his or her normal area of operation. Also, difficult to reach windows and windows that are on upper floors can cost more to install because of safety concerns or special equipment. A picture window on a ground-floor living room is easier to install than one on an upper floor master bedroom.
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Energy Efficiency Savings

Installing new windows can help with your energy bills and might net you a rebate or two. When shopping for new windows, look for Energy Star rated windows. Energy Star certified windows and skylights can save as much as 12% on your energy bills by better insulating your home from the outside elements. Combined with Energy Star appliances and LED light bulbs, significant savings can be seen on your lighting, heating, and cooling costs.

In order to get Energy Star certified, windows have to be NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) rated. The NFRC rating provides the following information:

  • U-Factor -how much heat is transferring from one side of the window to the other
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient - how much heat is being blocked
  • Visible Transmittance - how much light is getting through
  • Air Leakage (optional) –the amount of air getting past the window

With each of these ratings, lower numbers are better.

A window’s energy efficiency can be improved with other features. Used together or by themselves, they can help keep the bills down.

  • Multiple Panes – Some windows have two or three panes. The pocket of air between the panes serves as an insulator.
  • Gas – Some multi-paned windows use an inert gas, such as argon or krypton, to help stifle heat transference between the panes.
  • Low E Coating – This, metallic coating helps a home stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer by reflecting UV rays.
  • Framing Materials – Some materials can provide a good degree of insulation. Vinyl and fiberglass are two of the best materials for this.
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Other Benefits of New Windows

New windows have a number of other benefits besides energy efficiency reflected on your monthly bills. They can improve your comfort and finances in other ways as well.

New windows often see a 78% return on your investment if you decide to sell.

  • Replacing sticky windows with ones that open easily can be the difference between life and death in the event of an emergency. Yes, you could easily break out a window, but crawling through broken glass has its own life risks.
  • Some double-paned windows have blinds built in. These models help reduce dust and allergens while providing blinds that never need cleaning.
  • The improved energy efficiency improves your comfort by reducing or eliminating hot and cold spots in your home.
  • Energy efficient windows save you money by reducing the wear and tear on your HVAC system.
  • Triple-paned windows with insulating frames can reduce the amount of outside noise getting in and disturbing your peace and quiet.
  • New windows can improve your view both from your house’s outside appearance and from the inside looking out.
  • Cleaning is easier with features such as sashes that tilt inward, eliminating the need to hang outside of the window to clean it.
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Window Terminology

When a person says “open a window”, what they really mean is “open a sash”. The actual “window” is a system of frames, tracks, pulleys, supports, hinges, panes, and other parts that must all be working properly in order for someone to just “open a window”. Here are the key parts of a window that you should know when having one installed just so you know what your contractor (or the instruction sheet in your DIY kit) is talking about.

  • Frame: The frame is a combination of the sides (side jambs), top (head jamb) and bottom (sill) that form the rectangular support around the window opening. It is also known as a “casing”.
  • Grilles: These are the bars between the panes of glass on a sash. They are sometimes called “muntins”.
  • Latch Mechanism: Sometimes this is called the “locking mechanism”. It is a catch that, when thrown, prevents the window from opening easily.
  • Pane: A single sheet of glass. A picture window may be made up of one large pane, or it may be made up of several smaller panes separated by grilles (see above). Sometimes panes are called “glazing”.
  • Rail: The horizontal part of the frame of a sash.
  • Sash: The complete assembly of panes and grills. It may move or it may remain fixed. For example, in a single hung window the upper sash remains fixed while the lower sash can slide up and down. In a slider, the right sash may remain fixed while the left half slides left and right. In a casement window the sash may swing inward or outward as the design permits.
  • Sash Cord: A cord that connects a moveable sash to a weight over a pulley to assist in opening and closing the sash.
  • Stile: The vertical part of the frame of a sash.
  • Track: The path the sash moves in.
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