Choosing the right windows can transform a mediocre home into one that looks light, open and down right amazing. Some homeowners may be tempted to spare no expense when it comes to their renovation. However, when it comes to selecting window applications there are a number of ways to achieve the high-end look you desire without breaking the budget.
The end goal when choosing windows should be a beautiful, energy efficient and trouble free finish that accommodates your budget and will serve you for years to come. With this in mind, the following questions should be considered:
Will the new windows be the same style and size as the existing ones?
What colour and design do you prefer?
Will the new windows have a grid pattern?
Do you want the trim redone at the same time?
Once you've reviewed these questions, here are our tips on keeping costs down when choosing your windows, whilst still achieving the desired result from your renovation project.
Don’t dismiss double glazing
Double glazing should be a consideration for any home renovation project. Home owners are often shocked by how economical they are and the comfort they provide. Most sound, heat and cold enters the home through the window. Double glazed windows insulate the home to prevent heat from escaping in cooler months, to keep cool air in and hot air out during hotter months and diminish noise pollution. They also look contemporary and do not compromise the integrity of the existing window frames.
Window installers typically recommend replacing windows, including boxes, during a reno rather than partial replacements. However, there are some exceptions. Windows that are sound, may be conserved with minimal intervention - draft-proofing and overhauling can prevent further deterioration and improve energy efficiency. Putting new frames in old boxes, or simply patching rotted areas, represents a false economy. These solutions are costly and do not achieve durable or economical results.
Orienting windows for heating, cooling & light
In the southern hemisphere, windows facing north provide the best potential and overall solar efficiency. The greater the degree of variation from true north, the greater the decrease in solar gain. As the solar gain decreases, the amount of supplementary energy needed to heat a home increases.
When renovating, keep in mind how the northern side of a home will receive sunlight during the day. Most passive solar buildings feature glass that dominates the northern side. North facing windows allow energy from the sun to be absorbed then distributed through the thermal mass of the building - making them much-needed components of passive solar designs. Care must be exercised, however, to insulate the windows in the winter and shade them in the warmer summer months for energy efficiency.
Materials for longevity & low maintenance
Renovations are not a yearly occurrence. So the materials decided on for the windows should be chosen with longevity and easy maintenance in mind. Aluminium double glazed windows are great if you want to save money - they can be customised easily by breaking up panels without much a financial cost.
Timber double glazed windows, on the other hand, give an elegant warmth to a room, but can be expensive. Alternatively, windows made from Victorian Ash are economical. They can be purchased pre-primed, which will reduce the cost of painting.
Vinyl windows are durable and low maintenance, with little ongoing costs. They resist chipping, peeling, corrosion, rain and wind damage.
Fibreglass windows replicate the feel and look of wood by the addition of a veneer, while helping to resist warping, rotting and swelling. The frame contracts and expands at nearly the same rate as the double glazed window panes, improving strength and energy efficiency.
With fibreglass frames, repainting isn’t necessary unless a colour change is preferred. A wood veneer can also be added to the interior, giving the homeowner the beauty and warmth of wood, and the durability of fibreglass.
Exterior window protection
There are numerous choices when it comes to finishing the exterior of a home and your renovation, with cost and imagination playing key roles in the decision. The finished project can be bright and bold, or balanced and traditional depending on your personality and taste.
Exterior shutters are made from a selection of materials that include fibreglass, composite wood, wood and vinyl. Shutters add kerb appeal and value to a home. Available styles include a unique country style, elegant raised panels and standard louver. Some are installed to be decorative, others for functionality.
Louver shutters can act as a protective cover during inclement weather. They also help to provide privacy and security. The typical louver shutter of today is mostly decorative. For shutters to protect windows under extreme weather conditions, different installation techniques and hardware are employed. Hold-downs, clasps and hinges are needed to allow the shutters to close or swing open.
If security and privacy are issues, operable shutters are advantageous. In warmer climates, some homeowners install Bermuda type shutters. These shutters are usually hinged and louvered at the top, rather than the sides, and can be raised from the bottom to prop them open. Tight-fitting shutters have energy saving effects on your winter and summer utility bills.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of replacing your windows with something durable, as well as attractive. Renovating on a budget doesn’t need to be stressful. With some forethought and homework, knowing what you want before parting with your hard earned cash will not only help you achieve the look you desire, but create an economical outcome to save you money on heating and cooling over the coming years.
For more advice on home renovation here's how to avoid a money guzzling renovation nightmare and how to keep your home and belongings safe during a reno.
Nathan Bishop is the owner Go Green Glazing. They are an Australian business based in Geelong that specialises in the retrofit of double glazed windows. His team has over 100 years of combined experience in window repair and replacement.
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