Selecting new windows and doors isn’t easy. It’s not something you do very often and window “technology” continues to change. Even the language used in the window business is not easily understood by most. This section of our web site is designed to help you become a more educated consumer so that – when it comes to purchasing windows and doors – you’ll be in a position to make smart decisions. Purchasing new windows is too costly to do more than once!
Home Improvement Replacement Windows
What is a replacement window?
A true replacement window is a window that’s custom built to fit within the opening of an existing window. It’s built to fit precisely and can be installed without disturbing the interior and exterior areas around the window.
What are the advantages of custom replacement windows over pre-made, standard-size windows stocked at home centers and lumber yards?
Because custom windows are made to fit perfectly, they provide the best energy efficiency (which saves energy costs) and install much more easily and with very little mess. Also, because of the myriad of options available that affect appearance and efficiency, custom windows allow consumers to design exactly the windows they need or want.
Standard windows typically cost less in the beginning, but other expenses and factors—like additional labor and the disruption to the home—far outweigh the original savings. For example, installing stock windows requires that you add brick or siding to the exterior, and drywall or other materials to the interior. In addition, custom-made windows allow you to choose the best solution to the problems you want to solve by replacing windows.
Do replacement windows really pay for themselves or is that just a sales line?
It’s true, if you select high-quality, energy-efficient windows. Savings will vary, but expertly engineered and well-built windows lower home energy consumption. With vinyl-framed windows, maintenance is also virtually eliminated. No need to scrape and paint windows.
These energy and maintenance savings will allow you to recoup your window investment over time.
Aren’t beautiful vinyl windows an oxymoron?
Years ago that may have been true. However, today—with the options available and with advances in window design technology—quality vinyl windows are both beautiful and unique. For example, home owners can choose from sculptured or sleek window styles; white, almond or woodgrain vinyl finishes; standard or diamond grids; and beveled, leaded, etched or stained glass. And these are just a few of the options available.
There are still old fashioned, low-end vinyl windows available, but the new designs are beautiful, maintenance-free and energy efficient.
How are replacement windows any different from older windows in terms of cleaning?
Many high-quality windows are actually engineered to make cleaning easier. For example, double-hung windows with the latest internal constant force balance system allow a home owner to easily maneuver the sashes up and down. They tilt in—and lock securely in place—for safe, easy cleaning. Quite a difference from old wood windows that stick and are difficult to move up and down.
Will new windows eliminate condensation?
Actually, no. Condensation is moisture vapor suspended in the air, and that’s something no one can guarantee to eliminate. However, high-quality vinyl windows incorporating warm-edge technology glazing systems will help to reduce condensation because they’re much less thermally conductive than other window types. They can help keep the temperature of the window warmer—minimizing the hot and cold differences that turn moisture into condensation.
Home Improvement Window Materials
What are the advantages of vinyl windows over windows made with wood, metal or a combination of materials?
Vinyl is THE ideal window construction material because vinyl:
- Doesn’t deteriorate or rot.
- Can be extruded and shaped into brilliant window designs.
- Doesn’t damage or corrode when scratched.
- Can be fusion welded to eliminate air and moisture leaks at the joints.
- Offers excellent insulating properties—especially when used in multiple-cavity frame designs.
Are there differences in the vinyl used by window manufacturers?
Absolutely. Vinyls are like any other man-made compounds. There are numerous components in vinyl compounds and there are many vinyl manufacturers that produce numerous types and grades for window manufacturing. Lesser-quality vinyls typically have problems with brittleness or impact resistance, color consistency, and expansion and contraction. The best vinyls are proprietary compounds formulated specifically for manufacturing high-quality windows.
What makes one window stronger than another and why is window strength important?
The profile design and methods of assembly determine the strength of a window. Just as beams or roof trusses are designed for specific mechanical loads, so are window shapes.
The strength of the sash and frame dictate how the window will maintain its shape under high winds. A weak window can flex and reduce the effectiveness of the weatherstripping, resulting in air and water infiltration and, subsequently, higher energy costs. A weak window design also requires near-perfect window installation to ensure an effective seal.
You’ll have windows with long-term strength and squareness if you select windows with:
- All fusion-welded joints.
- Glass sealed to the sash frame.
Do woodgrain vinyls really simulate the look of wood and how well can they match different wood types?
Advances in vinyl technology allow quality woodgrain vinyl laminates to come very close to the look of real wood. It’s very attractive and it often matches the color of the wood trim in homes. An added benefit is that woodgrain vinyl laminates never need to be stained or sealed.
Home Improvement Energy Efficiency
What makes a window or door energy efficient?
Numerous factors, including how the frame and sashes are engineered and built, the type of glass used (single-, double- or triple-pane), the weatherstripping, the type of low-emissivity coating on the glass and the presence of argon or krypton gas.
What is an R-value and how important is it in selecting windows?
Although the U-value is actually the important number in evaluating windows and doors today, most people are more familiar with the related concept of R-value (or R-factor). The R-factor of a window is the measure of its resistance to the transfer of heat flow. The higher its R-value, the greater its insulating ability.
What is a U-value?
U-value (or U-factor) is the measure of the window’s ability to conduct heat—in other words, the amount of heat transmitted through the window. The lower a window’s U-value, the better the window is at insulating your home.
What is Low-E and, how important is it to have it on your windows or doors?
Low-E stands for low emissivity and is a fairly new advancement in glass technology. Basically, it’s a microscopic, metallic coating—applied to a surface of glass—that reflects and re-radiates heat energy either into or out of a home depending on climate conditions. Using Low- E is an excellent way to increase the energy efficiency of a window. In fact, it’s so effective that every Pinnacle Energy window with Low-E is ENERGY STAR®-compliant in every region of the U.S.
What is ENERGY STAR®—and what does it have to do with windows and doors?
ENERGY STAR is a U.S. government program—administered by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency with the cooperation of manufacturers—that’s designed to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels through the education of consumers. The program covers many different types of products. Windows and doors can only carry the ENERGY STAR label if they are tested by an independent laboratory through the NFRC program and meet specific, predetermined U-value ratings. By selecting ENERGY STAR products, you will reduce your energy costs and help make the environment cleaner.
What is the NFRC and what should I know about it?
NFRC stands for the National Fenestration Rating Council. It’s a program established by the U.S. Department of Energy to help consumers compare window products and options. Window manufacturers participating in the program are required to label every window to its specific thermal performance level. Customers are then ensured that the products they select meet the requirements for their application. Participation in the NFRC program is voluntary. Not all manufacturers participate because it requires outside third party inspection and extensive product testing. Gorell IS a participant in the NFRC program.
Does argon or krypton gas between glass panes really make a difference in energy efficiency?
For air to insulate well, it needs to be as still as possible because moving air carries energy. Both argon and krypton are heavier than air—so they’re less prone to convection or thermal movement. The bottom line is that heavier-than-air gases offer a higher level of insulation. Both argon and krypton are found naturally in the air you breathe and are completely harmless.
How important is weatherstripping?
Very. Weatherstripping is important because it provides the barrier against air and water in windows and doors. It is the only element of operating windows or doors that make them reasonably air tight. High-quality weatherstripping that’s applied and compressed properly really does improve the insulating performance of windows.
What are the different types of weatherstripping, and what benefits do each have?
Although there are many different types of weatherstripping, they basically fall into one of three categories—woven piles, flaps, and hollow or foam bulbs. Which is best? That depends on the window style, design and application. Windows and doors that are expertly engineered—like Pinnacle Energy’s—are designed with weatherstripping that creates the tightest possible seal and holds up to time and heavy use.
Is there a way to improve the energy efficiency of existing (prime) windows that are still in good condition but have just a single pane of glass?
High-quality, custom-built storm windows represent a practical way to improve the efficiency of existing windows that are in good condition. Be sure to choose only high-quality, custom-built storm products for your existing windows to ensure the tightest possible fit and to seal out the elements.
Home Improvement Window Security, Sound, UV
How much protection do windows provide against forced entry?
Generally, not much with typical windows and doors. However there’s a new security concept that’s growing quickly in popularity throughout the U.S. The idea of using special laminated glass, similar to that found in auto windshields, in conjunction with extremely tough vinyl windows and doors. Pinnacle Energy offers exactly this concept in its Armor Glass® Plus systems, which typically take up to 30 powerful hits of a baseball bat before even a small hole is formed. In a real-life scenario, the whole neighborhood would be alerted after about the fifth hit!
Can windows and doors reduce outside noise?
All windows and doors reduce noise to some degree. The best solution, however, is to use a laminated, insulating glass like Gorell’s Armor Glass® Plus system in windows and doors. It provides as much as a 100 percent improvement in sound deadening over other glass types.
Can windows keep out UV radiation that fades carpeting, furniture, draperies and upholstery?
Using a low-emissivity glass in your new windows or doors will filter more than 50 percent of the damaging UV light. The absolute most effective glass for this purpose, however, is laminated insulating glass—like the Pinnacle Energy Armor Glass® Plus system. It features a polyvinyl butyral inner layer and a low-emissivity coating that filters more than 99 percent of UV radiation that fades interior furnishings.
Home Window Maintenance
How do I maintain and clean my Pinnacle Energy windows and doors?
You’ll be amazed at how easy Pinnacle Energy windows and doors are to clean. Also, they require practically no maintenance. Use any window cleaner to clean the glass surface of Pinnacle Energy products that don’t incorporate our Glass Protector® option. Premium-quality Pinnacle Energy vinyl comes clean with any mild detergent or simply soapy water.
To clean exterior glass surfaces of your Pinnacle Energy window or door that has been coated with Glass Protector, simply rinse with warm water and wipe dry with a soft cloth. Do not use cleaners containing ammonia or abrasive cleaners on products with Glass Protector.
Pinnacle Energy products typically require no lubrication. In rare cases where conditions do require lubrication of metallic parts, Pinnacle Energy recommends that you use light machine oil sparingly.