When you can’t find the right window shape, there are custom windows available to give your home the perfect finishing touch. Steep slopes, rounded curves, irregular shapes — nothing is off limits. Learn more about what a custom shaped window is, and how you can use it to your advantage.
Double hung or double-sash windows have two sashes that fit into a single frame, and they’re the most popular type of window in residential homes. They work by sliding up the bottom sash into the top sash to open and then sliding down the window sash to close. See if they’re the right choice for you.
Choosing a window today is nothing like what it was just ten years ago. Today there are more window types than ever before, and choosing just the right window to complement a home and to match a homeowner’s pocketbook can be a Herculean task.
How many different choices does a homeowner have when it comes to picking just the perfect window? There are fixed (also called picture); single and double hung; casement and bay; awning and sliders; skylights, and greenhouses.
The most basic window is a fixed, or picture window. This window does not open and can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Its primary advantage is that it provides a relatively large, unobstructed view of the outdoors. Its primary disadvantages are that it does not open to allow for airflow, and the outside of the window can only be cleaned from the outside of the house.
Of the windows which open, the simplest is possibly the single hung window. This is the vanilla ice cream of windows: plain and basic. Two sheets of glass within a single frame, one sheet in the bottom half of the window and the second sheet in the top half of the frame, each sheet framed within the overall frame of the window. The two sheets of glass are offset just enough that the lower portion of the window can be pulled upward, allowing outside air to enter a room. The main advantages of this type of window include its relatively low cost and the fact that it does provide some ventilation. Its disadvantages are that most of its ventilation only takes place if there is wind outside and the crossbar obstructs the view.
The double hung window is similar to the single hung window described above, except that with the double hung window, not only can the lower pane of glass be raised upward, but the top pane of glass can be lowered downward to create a window that can be open at the top as well as at the bottom. It is also possible to partially open the top pane as well as the bottom pane at the same time. One of the primary advantages of this type of window is that when both the top and bottom of the window is open, cool air can come in through the open lower pane, while hot air escapes through the open upper window. The only real disadvantage is the rail in the center of the window which obstructs the view.
A casement window is a single sheet of glass in a frame which is hinged on either the right or the left side and can be opened outward with a hand crank. The advantage of a casement window is that they provide excellent ventilation, and a well-made casement window also seals tightly against outside noise. The disadvantage of a casement window is that, because it opens outward, it cannot be used next to a sidewalk or even a deck. Also, the hand crank can become tiresome.
An awning window is similar to the casement window, except that it is hinged at the top and opens outward with a crank handle. An awning window is often placed near the top of a wall so the window can let hot air escape. Its main advantage is that, because of the way this window opens, it can be left open when it rains. Its primary disadvantage is that, because it is so small and only opens partially, it cannot be easily used to escape in case of an emergency.
A gliding window consists of two panes of glass with a vertical bar between them. The panes are offset just enough that one pane can be slid to either the right or the left. The main advantages of this type of window are that, because it does not open outward, it can be used next to sidewalks, patios, and decks. This type of window also has a large enough opening to use in case of an emergency. The primary disadvantage of this type of window is that you can only open one side at a time.
A skylight also called a ceiling window, is installed in a ceiling. Some skylights do not open, and others open just slightly to allow for ventilation. The primary advantage of a skylight is the amount of light that can be let into otherwise somewhat dark spaces. The primary disadvantage is that the homeowner must climb onto the roof to clean the exterior of the window.
A bay window, also known as a bow window, can create a very dramatic effect. This window extends out from the wall of the house, giving a room the feeling of additional space and providing a great deal of exterior light. Generally, a bay window’s central pane of glass is stationary, but the panes on the extended sides of the window may open.
The primary advantages of a bay window include the dramatic look it gives to the home’s appearance and the extra light it allows in. The primary disadvantages of a bay window are the cost and the difficulty of cleaning all of the various panes of glass.
A greenhouse window is sometimes added in a kitchen. This is in effect a small bay window, designed to hold a few small potted plants, often herbs. The primary advantage of this type of window is that it allows a homeowner to grow fresh herbs virtually all year round. The primary disadvantage is that, when the home is sold, this type of window only adds to the value of a home if the new owner wants a mini greenhouse built into the kitchen.
The homeowner must keep in mind that each type of window comes in a variety of frames: wood, vinyl, aluminum or steel. Each window also comes with a variety of coatings available on the glass and most come single or double-paned, many with an inert gas (such as argon) between the panes for added insulation.
The choice of windows may seem overwhelming, but homeowners can get great advice from the window specialists at United Home Experts. These design experts have years of experience here in the northeast and can quickly help a homeowner determine the exact window that complements any portion of a home and the exact window that also fits into the homeowner’s pocketbook.
The point is, a homeowner need not feel as if he or she is all alone out there in the window jungle – help is always available. For more information on windows, read our main window page!
Wood windows that were built 100 or more years ago (the double-framed variety) were built to last; however, those that were built 30 or 40 years ago were not. These windows are subject to wood rot and window shrinkage. The energy efficiency of the glass is often under question in windows of this age. For this reason, once these more recently constructed wood windows start showing these signs of aging (wood rot, cracking, mold, etc.) it is time to think about replacing them.
Wood rots when it stays wet for a lengthy period of time. Usually, for wood rot to occur the moisture content of the wood has to stay at more than 20 percent. This moisture level provides the best breeding ground for the fungi that cause wood rot. Other types of mold can also grow to extremely problematic levels in wetter areas, and this can contribute to wood window decay.
Cracks are self-explanatory, and they are not difficult to detect. Wood cracks when it gets old or wet, or when it is exposed to extreme temperature changes and/or severe, harsh weather. Small cracks in the wood usually aren’t problematic, although if left untreated they could become much more of a problem.
Some cases of mold, wood rot, and cracking can be repaired, rather than replaced. This saves the homeowner time and money. But this quick fix may not be able to protect the window and the surrounding structure of the home from experiencing further damage. In this case, it is important to have a better idea of the extent of the wood damage.
How does one know when a wood window needs to be replaced? Basically, a wood window needs to be replaced if the wood rot, mold, and cracks penetrate the surface and cause significant structural damage to the home. Also, there are many homes in the region that still have windows that are over 50 years old and the technology is simply outdated and no longer effective because they can’t maintain the home’s temperature. It will be difficult for most homeowners to fully assess the condition of their wood windows by themselves, as there may be many hidden problem areas they might not see or know to look for. It is recommended that anyone concerned with the condition of the windows consult with the professional at United Home Experts.
These experts will be able to help assess whether the window simply needs to be repaired or whether a total window replacement is in order. They will also be able to help homeowners decide on which type of replacement window is best for the needs of their homes. There are three main types of replacement windows: full-frame units, insert replacements and sash kits. Sash replacement kits are very popular these days because they provide an old window frame with all new, fully movable parts. But the other replacement window types also have their advantages.
It is incredibly difficult for the do-it-yourself homeowner to decide on and to complete a wood window replacement project of this magnitude, and it is not recommended that it be attempted without professional help, due to the complicated installation process and the possibility that warranties will be voided if installation errors occur. The professionals at United Home Experts are more than willing to provide a free consultation to help homeowners understand and take care of all their window replacement needs. For more information about window replacement, click here for our main window page!
Choosing from among all the different types and styles of windows available and cutting through the clutter of conflicting “facts” from each manufacturer is an almost impossible job. And there is no reason for the homeowner to walk this minefield alone. Talk to the experts at United Home Experts. They know everything there is to know about windows, and they install virtually every type of window there is, so their recommendations can be based solely on what is best for the homeowner and not on where their next commission check is coming from.
The Advantages of Vinyl-Framed Windows
Vinyl windows can be ordered to fit the exact size of a home’s window openings. This can be especially advantageous on older homes which may have odd-sized openings. By purchasing windows that are made to fit a home’s current openings exactly, vinyl windows can be installed quickly and easily with little or no damage to the surrounding siding. Naturally, there may be a modest additional charge for custom sizes, but even with the additional charge, vinyl windows can still be less costly than many other alternatives.
Vinyl is not affected by salt spray or most air-born contaminants. Homes near the ocean, which are subject to almost continual salt spray, have discovered that vinyl does not rust, absorb moisture and swell or cause any of the other problems which other window frames are subject to under similar conditions. Vinyl is also unaffected by air pollution, even in heavily industrialized areas, which is something many other frames cannot boast of.
The Disadvantages of Vinyl-Framed Windows
Vinyl windows cannot be painted. While the fact that vinyl windows come with the color imbued into the vinyl itself can be an advantage, if the color is not quite right or if the homeowner wants to change the color of the house in the future, the vinyl window frames do not accept paint well, and this may detract from the overall appearance of a home.
If the vinyl frame is not held together by screws then it is welded. Unfortunately, welding can cause as many problems as using screws. Poor welding can result in drainage problems which are not readily apparent and welds can also allow for air leakage, which negates most of the window’s insulating properties.
Choosing the type and style of window that is right for a particular home and fits into the homeowner’s pocketbook can be a real challenge. After all, a homeowner has several different window frames to choose from and each manufacturer is making confusing and competing claims to grab the homeowner’s cash. Hopefully, the information in this article will equip the homeowner with at least some ammunition in the hunt for the perfect window.
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