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Door and Window Replacement: Your Guide to the Best Styles and Materials

Doors and windows come in different styles, each option offering a number of different functions. To make the most of investing in a replacement project, make sure to note the advantages a certain door or window style can provide and relate them to your home’s needs. Maybe you want to get the most out of a stunning outdoor view, or maximize your home’s available space. No matter what you’re looking to get out of a replacement project, you can be sure there’s a perfect door or window style to meet your needs.

Double-Hung Windows

Ask a child to draw you a house and they’ll most likely put double-hung windows on it. This window style graces millions of American homes and is recognizable by the two operable sashes. Double-hung windows feature a timeless design that can match most types of residential architecture. They offer a plethora of advantages that make them great for every home:

  • On the aesthetic side: Double-hung windows are versatile enough to complement most home styles, including Colonial, Farmhouse and Craftsman. In fact, you can have them installed in any room and they won’t look out of place. Like most windows, double-hung windows can be customized with a wide selection of color choices, hardware options and grille patterns, further adding to your home’s historic accuracy.

  • On the functional side: Double-hung windows have a large glass area that provides an extensive view of the outdoors. This same glass area lets in plenty of natural light, so you won’t have to rely as much on artificial lighting to brighten your home during the day. Advancements in window design have also allowed for double-hung windows to tilt inward, and some come with removable sashes. This makes quite a bit of difference in window maintenance—tilting or removing the sashes makes it easy to clean the windows thoroughly from inside of your home, which is also safer.

  • On the energy efficiency side: Double-hung windows provide your home with superior natural ventilation. Simply open both the top and bottom sashes at the same time, allowing fresh, cool air to enter your room via the bottom sash, while warm, stale exits out of your home through the top sash. By helping cool your home naturally, double-hung windows help reduce the load on your air conditioner, which, in turn, reduces your energy bills. This is especially handy during summer. Another plus—a well-ventilated room helps improve indoor air quality and prevents the growth of mold and mildew, aiding in keeping you and your family healthy.

Casement Windows

Before double-hung windows were introduced, casement windows were the go-to option for many homeowners. This doesn’t mean casements are now outdated, however. Remaining a popular choice in Europe and the U.S., casement windows are characterized by frames attached via side hinges, letting them swing open like a door. When it comes to good looks, functionality and energy efficiency, casement windows are an ideal option. Here’s a quick overview:

  • On the aesthetic side: Casement windows offer a lovely, Old-World charm. They are, in fact, an excellent addition to French Tudor, Cottage and Spanish-Mission homes. To boost the overall beauty of your casement windows, you can equip them with attractive grille patterns like Colonial, Prairie, Farmhouse, flat top, pushout and top down. If you want to forgo the dividers, you can benefit from a good-sized glass area that’s great for framing a beautiful view of your landscape.

  • On the functional side: Most casement windows come with single-level latches or a crank for easier operation. There are even options that can be fitted with automatic openers. Especially useful in compact spaces, casements are great if you want to brighten up or ventilate the area over a kitchen or bath sink, countertop or appliance. Unlike other window options, casement windows have fewer parts to break, which makes them easier to repair and maintain.

  • On the energy efficiency side: If you depend on cross ventilation to cool your home, then casement windows should be your go-to choice. No other window can be opened as widely or fully as a casement. They can even be angled to better direct the flow of cooling breezes into your home, helping improve energy efficiency by reducing cooling requirements. When closed, the casement window’s sashes press firmly against the frame, creating an airtight seal. This helps prevent costly energy from leaking out of your home and cold drafts from leaking in.

Like double-hung windows, casements also help improve indoor air quality. Try installing them in the bath, kitchen or laundry room, areas that generate a large amount of warm, indoor air. With casement windows, you can prevent excessive humidity in these spaces and related problems like mold and mildew growth.

Picture Windows

If you’re lucky enough to own a home with the beautiful views, then choosing picture windows to frame them is a smart decision. Picture windows feature slim frames and expansive glass, which also generate a good number of other advantages. When investing in a new window, you may find that picture windows are the best option to fit your needs.

  • On the aesthetic side: When it comes to new windows, sometimes bigger really is better. The thin frames and expansive glass of a picture window can transform the look and feel of your home. You can, for instance, have a row of picture windows installed in one wall. This doesn’t just create a “wall of light,” it also helps ensure a stronger, more seamless connection between your interior and the outdoors. Because of this, picture windows instantly serve as a room’s focal point.

  • On the functional side: Picture windows allow a significant amount of natural light to spill into your home. This gives any room a more cheerful, spacious feel, while also helping cut down costs for artificial lighting during the day. Because picture windows are fixed, meaning you can’t open or close them, they have fewer components that need repair or maintenance.

  • On the energy efficiency side: Some homeowners may be turned off by the fact that picture windows are inoperable, but this design feature actually offers a distinct advantage. There’s no potential for air leakage or significant energy loss with a fixed window because it forms a stronger, tighter seal. If you want access to natural ventilation, but prefer the sleek design of a picture window, there are combinations available from your trusted window contractor, in which you can pair a picture window with operable windows, like double-hung or casement windows.

Bay and Bow Windows

These windows are often confused with each other, but they are actually different. For starters, bay windows are typically made of three parts–a fixed central window flanked by operable windows on each side. This provides the unit with a more angular look. Bow windows, on the other hand, are composed of four or more equal-sized windows attached together to form a graceful arc. No matter your choice, both bay and bow windows offer excellent advantages.

  • On the aesthetic side: Bay and bow windows offer a grand look to any room because of their unique design. In fact, they are a staple in Queen Anne homes, which highlight asymmetry and distinctive lines and shapes. However, they are also gaining traction in modern homes. Their sleek appearance and expansive glass gives the home a clean, open look.

  • On the functional side: Bay and bow windows protrude from your home, creating a deep sill area that you can use in a number of smart ways. You can use this area for additional seating or a cozy breakfast nook. That’s why bay and bow windows are often installed in kitchens and living rooms. This deep sill area can also be used as a small storage area, or a shelf for your favorite reading materials. Plus, if you need a surface for displaying plants, photos, and other knick-knacks, you can’t go wrong with bay and bow windows.

  • On the energy efficiency side: The expansive glass area of a bay and bow window allows sunlight to spill into your home from different directions, reducing your reliance on artificial lighting during the day. If you’re trying to cut down your lighting costs, this is a huge advantage. Because bay and bow windows also have the option of incuding operable side units, they can provide excellent ventilation too, which can ease heating and cooling requirements.

Hinged French Doors

This door style actually started as a window in 19th century France–a window that was large enough to fit a whole person through. French doors were created with proportion and light in mind. The smooth design and glass extending the length of the door helps flood the room with natural light, making the space feel larger and more open.

  • On the aesthetic side: Today, French doors remain a popular choice for homeowners. They offer a number of benefits, such as adding elegance and daylight to your living spaces. With their good looks–and when customized with the right hardware finish and grille pattern–they can help increase your home’s curb appeal and value.

  • On the functional side: French doors have numerous glass lites, which can seamlessly connect your home’s interior with the outdoors. This is also handy when entertaining guests–the wide opening allows for smoother traffic in and out of your home.

  • On the energy efficiency side: When closed, a hinged French door creates a durable, tight seal that prevents energy from leaking out of your home. With their large glass panes, your hinged French doors not only provide panoramic outdoor views, but access to greater natural light, as well.

Sliding Patio Doors

Adding sliding patio doors to your home is a smart move due to the door style’s functional and aesthetic benefits. Unlike traditional patio doors, sliding doors glide smoothly along a track, allowing for easier operation. Sliding patio doors are a staple in modern-style homes, but with the right customization, they can work well in classic-style homes too.

  • On the aesthetic side: Sliding patio doors come with slim frames and a huge glass area. Even when closed, this door style brings the beauty of the outdoors inside your home. Whether you have a back garden or a beautiful patio or deck, sliding glass doors can showcase them to best effect. The sleek look the frames and glass provide also blends well with most home decor and architectural styles. If you want your sliding patio door to look more vintage, but don’t want to sacrifice this door style’s smooth operation, premier door manufacturers like Renewal by Andersen® offer sliding French patio doors for the best of both worlds.

  • On the functional side. Hinged French and sliding patio doors offer many of the same benefits, sliding doors have a leg-up when it comes to cramped rooms. Sliding doors don’t swing out–they simply slide neatly to the side, helping maximize your home’s available space. This means they won’t interrupt your patio or deck when opened. With sliding doors, you won’t have to worry as much about furniture placement or room layout.

  • On the energy efficiency side: Old, failing sliding doors can lead to considerable energy loss. Newer units, however, are equipped with advanced energy-saving features. This means more durable seals and better thermal performance, leading to a more energy-efficient home overall.

Why Framing Material and Glass Matter

While the design of a door or window plays a big role in the unit’s energy efficiency, the frame material and type of glass they’re constructed with can also augment performance and longevity. That’s why you need to take these factors into account when choosing new doors or windows. You’ll want your upgrades to provide the superior, lasting performance you expect. The most common door and window materials available include:

  • Wood: Most homeowners choose wooden windows and doors because of their warmth and natural beauty. When it comes to durability and insulation, wood is one of the best frame materials you can find. However, wood is not without its faults. Wood can be prone to rot and other types of moisture damage. Also, it easily expands and contracts when exposed to temperature changes. To keep your wood frames looking good and performing properly, considerable treatment and maintenance is required.

  • Aluminum: If you want doors and windows that can take a beating from the harsh elements, aluminum is an ideal option. Aside from being extremely durable, this material can also provide a sleek, modern look to your home. When it comes to insulation, however, aluminum is lacking as it conducts heat rapidly.

  • Vinyl: Cost-effective and easy to install, vinyl is a fast-favorite among many homeowners. Vinyl doors and windows don’t require much maintenance, holding their color longer than most materials. This eliminates the need for the occasional scraping and repainting. The only downside is vinyl’s not-so-stellar longevity, as it tends to warp when exposed to severe weather or extreme temperatures.

  • Composite: Made from reclaimed wood fibers, composite is one of the best alternative materials available today. It offers some of the best features of other materials, but without their drawbacks, making it the most ideal option. Composite provides wood’s superior insulating value, aluminum’s durability and vinyl’s maintenance-free performance. It won’t crack, pit, corrode or change shape when exposed to extreme weather conditions. Composite can also be shaped into any window style because of its strength, and it creates an airtight seal to keep indoor heat in and outdoor heat out. A prime example of composite material used in windows is Renewal by Andersen’s exclusive Fibrex®.

What About Glass?

The glass is the biggest component of your window or patio door. Given the amount of natural light that passes through the glass and into your home, you’ll want to choose a type of glass that reduces heat gain. Some good options include heat-absorbing and insulated glass. There is one excellent glass type, however, that takes thermal performance to another level: low-emissivity (low-E) glass.

The surface of the glass is coated with a thin, invisible layer of metallic oxide. This helps bounce heat back to its source, meaning you enjoy a cooler, more comfortable living space during warmer months. At the same time, heat remains inside your home during the winter. The High-Performance™ Low-E4® SmartSun™ glass developed by Renewal by Andersen is a great example of Low-E glass done right.

There are many other essentials to consider when planning your door or window replacement. By carefully considering all your options and working with a reliable contractor, you’ll be one step closer to a more energy-efficient, beautiful home.


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