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Windows and Doors Oh My

When speaking to clients, the number one questions arises, “What is the most important item, I should work on?” I say, "For me personally, it’s windows and doors." 

While windows and doors might not sound all that glamorous, but they play a huge role in indoor comfort, safety, and energy efficiency. They protect your family and your belongings from extreme weather, working in tandem with the heating and cooling system to provide temperature control and optimized comfort. Below are a few of the reasons you need to buckle down and invest:

Increase Energy Savings

When bills a bit on high side? Many homeowners make the mistake of blaming an unusually high bill on unusually hot or cold weather, or lazy operational patterns. But there’s actually a more insidious cause: inefficient insulation. This happens when doors, windows, and even parts of your roof become outdated and vulnerable to gaps. The sooner you figure out that doors and windows are behind this expense, the sooner you can invest in a more cost-effective solution for long-term savings.

Avoid Major Repairs

If doors and windows aren’t equipped to protect your home from external elements, you risk exposing the interior to extensive damage. Moisture is one of the most problematic variables for homeowners with bad window and door conditions. Whether it’s humidity from hot days or lack of protection from wind and rain, moisture will find a way in and can lead to mold, mildew, and other forms of water damage. These effects might be hard to spot, especially if they occur out of sight in the walls of your home. By the time you realize there’s an issue, it could have permanently warped the baseboards or even exposed your family to harmful respiratory complications. Rot from water damage is one of the worst things a homeowner can discover, and repairs might end up being more expensive than a simple window or door update.

Safety First

Windows and doors provide basic security to your home, family, and possessions. A securely locked window or door could mean the difference between vandalism and peace of mind. Keeping an updated home is not only a matter of responsible upkeep and maintenance; it’s also a safety issue that improves all the entrances and exits to your house, making them stronger and more impenetrable to criminals.

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Windows

If you’re looking into replacing the windows in your home, I’m sure you’ve discovered the myriad of choices offered to you these days.  It can be overwhelming, confusing, and hard to make a decision. if you’re leaning towards vinyl windows, you’re making a good choice.

Vinyl windows were first manufactured in 1959 as an alternative to traditional wood windows. However, it wasn’t until the 90’s that vinyl windows really took off.  Over the last few decades, vinyl window manufacturers have improved the process as well as the quality of vinyl used.  While in the past, some homeowners noticed their vinyl windows beginning to sag and discolor over time, today’s vinyl windows will last decades and are virtually maintenance free.

Vinyl windows are made using polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the same material used in many plumbing products and other household items.  Vinyl windows come in different grades, the most popular being Recycled Vinyl or Pure Virgin Vinyl.  Recycled vinyl is made from a variety of recycled vinyl products.  While this can reduce the cost of the window, it can also affect the durability and longevity.  Pure virgin vinyl is a stronger material and is more durable than the alternative.

Here are the Pros and Cons of Vinyl Windows


1.  Energy Efficient

While most modern windows today will be far more energy efficient than your old, drafty windows, there are some things to look out for.  Not all vinyl windows are built the same.  Make sure your window is Energy Star Rated.  Look for windows manufactured with Low-E gllogo-1ass and possibly filled with argon gas.  Both of these options will help to reflect heat from the outside during the summer and keep heat in during the winter – seriously saving on energy bills!

2.  Cost Effective

Vinyl windows are the most cost effective type of window available today.  They will cost less than wood windows as well as fiberglass windows.  Vinyl windows are just as energy efficient as the alternatives and are virtually maintenance free.  That being said, there is a wide variety of prices and quality when looking at vinyl windows. For the same size vinyl window, a homeowner could pay $250 for a low quality, short life-span window or $900 for a top of the line, all the bells and whistles window (plus additional installation costs).  While you don’t always get what you pay for, the cheapest vinyl windows will usually not last long and you can run into broken seals, hardware, etc pretty quickly.  Be sure to do your research on window manufacturers and remember that most companies sell many different lines of windows that can vary greatly in quality, material and construction.

3.  Easy and Cheap Installation

Vinyl windows are made for easy installation, especially when replacing existing windows. As long as you’ve found a quality contractor, replacing your existing windows should be quick and easy. This effects not only the mess and construction you have to deal with, but also the installation cost per window.  This can make a dramatic difference in the price of your improvement project when compared with wood or fiberglass installation costs.

4. Maintenance Free window cleaning

Once installed there’s really not much you need to do to your windows, other than keep them clean. It’s recommended to not use a high-pressure hose to clean windows.  Instead, anything that normal weather doesn’t clean off can be cleaned with a soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaners.  Most double-hung windows today offer the ability to swing inside your home so that you can easily clean the glass without a ladder or leaving the warmth of your home!  Vinyl windows will not rot, peel, or chip even in severe weather climates, making them a long-lasting, low-maintenance product.

5. Lots of Options

With vinyl windows, you have the most style and color options of all.  Vinyl windows can be made to be sliders, double-hung, single-hung, casement, picture, etc. You can also create custom shapes and sizes and finish your window with a huge variety of color options.

6. Best Warranties

Again, all vinyl windows are not created equal.  Depending on the manufacturer and specific window you choose, the warranties can vary.  Many vinyl windows today (especially the best quality) offer full lifetime or double lifetime warranties.  These double lifetime warranties can be a huge factor when selling your home as the warranty transfers to the new owners.


1. Environmental Impact

The manufacturing process and the material itself is all chemicals.  While vinyl is cheap to manufacture (thus keeping prices relatively low), it’s not a natural product and does have an environmental impact. Companies have tried to curb this impact in a number of ways: Recycled vinyl is used in some windows today, but quality and durability are compromised; Ability to recycle the vinyl windows themselves has improved, but finding a place to bring the old windows is difficult and the cost to recycle can be more than manufacturing the PVC from scratch.

2. Style Preference

Some people prefer the look and feel of natural wood in their homes and this isn’t something that can be replicated.  Many wood window manufacturers can create wood windows that look like a piece of furniture.  It can be painted to match the color palette of the home and provides a warmth that vinyl windows don’t.  However, wood windows are more expensive than vinyl and offer only similar energy efficiency with more maintenance.

3. With popularity comes variation in quality

Vinyl windows are the most popular type of window today.  With the increased demand, came an increase in manufacturers as well as quality.  Homeowners need to be vigilant in their research to be sure they’re getting the best quality and value.  Be sure to read reviews of contractors as well as window companies.  Make sure you’re getting a great warranty with a company that will be around in 20 years.  Look for Energy Star ratings and be sure you’re researching the exact window, not just the manufacturer.

Once you’ve decided to go with a vinyl window, be sure to do your research.  Vinyl windows offer so much value and longevity and are really a wonderful option for any home.  But there is a lot of variety – make sure you’re choosing right.  

These are the different types of windows in the market

Single and double hung windows

These windows are constructed of two sashes stacked vertically, with the main difference between a single and double hung window being whether or not the second sash is movable.

Pros: The movable sash is also removable, making it easy to clean. Additionally, they require very little clearance to open fully, which is ultimately space-saving from the outside.

Cons: They must be opened manually, and not by crank or other mechanism. This means they’re more difficult to operate for small children and require a steady grip to get open.

Casement/awning/hopper windows

These are all the same type of window, which is permanently affixed to one side and will only swing open from that one side. The only difference is that casement windows open from the side, awnings from the top and hoppers from the bottom.

Pros: They’re great for summer ventilation, since the slanted window guides breezes inwards. Plus, they offer an uninterrupted view to the outside, since they’re made with a single frame.

Cons: In rare cases where the manufacturing did not correct the balance, the window can be hard to open or close.

Sliding windows

Sliding windows are essentially window versions of sliding doors. They usually come in two panes and slide either vertically or horizontally.

Pros: They’re an even better space saver than single and double hung windows, since they require very little space to operate and the tracks make it very easy to use.

Cons: Tracks can become difficult to slide on if they become too dirty or crooked from use or warping. However, because it’s not a hidden mechanism, the track can be easy to fix.

Fixed / Picture window

Windows that let in light and add architectural detail. They cannot be opened.

Pros: They’re beautiful and can come in a variety of designs. They also require no maintenance, except for cleaning.

Cons: The grillwork which makes fixed windows interesting also adds to the cleaning required.

The window styles listed above are generic types, but custom windows are commonly ordered when the house requires a specific design.

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