On my list of things to get excited about, room reveals or seasonal decorating certainly rank higher than home improvement projects like toilet repair or how to install a sink. Boring. The topic of new window and door replacement was equally dry to me but I’ve had a change of heart on the matter. I now think installing new windows and doors is a hot topic, especially when you witness the true life transformation of ugly to pretty over two days which results in a huge crush on of all things your windows.
Today I wanted to share the reasons why we believe it was a wise investment. I know, that sounds like a commercial right? And I hate to sound like a commercial but when it happens to you, new windows are a real true to life “OMG I’m so glad we did this” experience.
We got a few bids over the summer, and chose to work with Home Depot since they had a 10% off deal and we liked their rep. We bought a combination of double hung and a custom picture window for the living room, two light sliders for the bedrooms and sunroom/dining room, divided light for the front windows to match the neighbors homes, and a new French rail sliding door for the family room.
The installer took perfect measurements and the windows were ready five weeks later. Home Depot sent very courteous and experienced contractors who arrived on time and did a fantastic job on the installation process. Their supervisor stopped in twice to check on work and our satisfaction. It took two full days to replace the first and second story windows and the sliding door, we chose the Simonton brand, and we’re so pleased with the results for these five reasons.
1) Aesthetic – The new vinyl windows look a million times better than the old aluminum ones. The new white frames are modern and fresh, more light (but not heat) enters the house, and the view of the trees and yard are visibly clearer.
This room is my favorite in the house, it’s a bonus room with a high pitched ceiling that is just off the kitchen and designed as a formal dining room but I think it’s better for a home office, it has a view of the pool and it’s such a bright and cheerful space.
2) Temperature Control The old owners had applied dark window film on several of the windows to restrict sunlight and over time it had bubbled and peeled off in places. The new windows have insulating “low E glass with argon gas” which blocks UV rays so the temperature stays lower. According to their website, low E glass is “a transparent metallic oxide coating applied to the glass surface that allows short-wave energy to pass through but reflects long-wave infrared energy for greater thermal efficiency.”
Standing next the new windows in the Las Vegas sun you can feel the temperature difference that the new windows offer. Before the new windows, we would stand next to them and feel the heat coming through but we’re no longer pelted by sun and heat and there is a much clearer view of the yard.
3) Energy Savings – With energy efficient windows, we will receive local energy rebates that will add up to major savings. New windows cost thousands of dollars but the lower heating and cooling bills are definitely something to smile about and will pay for themselves over the course of time.
4) Performance – Compared to the old, the new windows and sliding door are a breeze to open and close. The old ones were a pain to maneuver, the metal was heavier, it would catch and not slide smoothly, now they open and close with the push or pull of a finger.
I watched the process over the course of two days, the contractor removed each window from its frame, then prepared the surface for the new vinyl energy efficient windows. The team of two used shims to level each window, filled gaps with foam, and caulked each window with silicone for weather proofing and insulation, then used a white trim kit to frame the windows inside and out.
The old metal sliding door was the worst, it had to be lifted up by its handle to be moved at all because the ball bearings were completely shot, we hated it so much and cursed every time we had to open or close it. This is the main door in and out of the backyard so it was important to have something that functioned and looked better.
The sliding door required removing the entire door frame and it took the most time. They used a special trim kit for seamless installation.
I’m still planning on installing window treatments right here but at least with the new glass this room stays a lot cooler.
5.) Value Here are Matt’s thoughts on this point. “The value of new windows can be very important depending on the market, especially in areas with severe climate changes. Areas of extreme heat or cold require double or even triple pane windows. Aluminum windows have inferior insulation qualities and also a dated appearance.
Even first time buyer recognize new windows and their real estate agents are quick to point the benefits including lower utility costs. In my experience, new windows typically add dollar for dollar value, depending on the the quality and price of the windows. New windows also have safety latches built in for greater security and protection. Also consider getting a transferrable lifetime warranty to pass on to future buyers.”
With the new flooring, new windows, and smooth retextured walls the house is on its way to feeling brand new. Have you experienced the same benefits by replacing your windows or sliding doors? .
Yes we replaced all our windows and the benefits are tremendous. They look so good.
This is a really interesting topic for me. Window replacement is somewhere in our future. Not sure where, but somewhere.
One thing that has caused me to hesitate is the look from the outside. Can you speak to that? For example, a house on our street replaced some windows, and they definitely have a greenish tint from the outside. What do yours look like?
I can’t speak to the greenish tint Cindy, ours don’t have that…. but definitely a valid question when you go to research brands and their look from the outside, ours are clear and have no tint to them. We also added a stucco trim kit since the exterior is stucco and there’s a special way they cover gaps and caulk when the outside of the home is textured, all things to consider in the process!
We live in Moreno valley, CA and the weather is very similar to Las Vegas’. When we replaced our windows years ago, we immediately felt the difference in temperature inside. To this day, we are still enjoying the benefits including the aesthetic value. It was all worth it!
Reason #1 is enough for me after seeing the before-and-after shots. They look great, you definitely made the right decision.
I’m trying to decide whether to replace our windows. Although I live in super hot Houston, my house didn’t seem too hot despite its poorly insulated floor-to-ceiling windows. My house was built in 1948 and has the original windows. They’re beautiful and have so much character but some are cracked. I’d hate to replace them and lose their character but I’m sure our house is super energy inefficient even if we can’t feel the heat. There are higher things on my priority list so the windows will have to wait for now!
You mentioned your retextured walls at the end of the post. Did you write about having that done? I used the search bar but didn’t find a post about it. I would really like to hear about the effort and costs of having your walls retextured. Thanks!
Hi Annie, we paid a highly recommended sub to retexture our walls, it’s called “level 5 smooth”, I wrote about it here: http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2014/07/the-thrill-of-smooth-white-walls/
The smooth walls make dramatic difference in the feel and look of the home, especially painted a fresh white color. I was able to apply wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom without the rippling that can occur with textured walls.
Removing the popcorn ceilings was a messier job, retexturing the walls and ceiling required scaffolding and tarps and a team of guys in the house for 4 days but it was so worth the investment. Costs vary by sub and region, we paid $1,750 to have the higher popcorn ceilings removed (too tall for us) and the walls and ceilings retextured smooth, that included materials and labor.
We are in the process of renovating our second floor – 3 bedrooms and a full bath. We had all new windows put in on the second floor and decided to do the first floor too. This winter should be very interesting. We are in Connecticut so it is always cold. It was wonderful this summer with the ease of opening the windows.
They look DRAMATICALLY better!
Yes….we have had most of our windows replaced, and then of course new on the addition. Made a huge difference in the front of the house, since it faces south having the dual pane and gas inside. We were so blessed by a hail storm in the middle of October here in Phoenix! Ruined our roof, and our front windows! Insurance adjuster said so! ;) They work beautifully and look super!
We just replaced our old aluminum windows and it was the best thing we’ve done to help with all the things you mention and safety. Our old windows were not tempered and we’re easy to break incase of a burglary.
We replaced our windows with double-glazed one as soon as we moved in. Best money we could have spent. The existing ones were mismatched and single-glazed. Our climate is (in Central Otago, New Zeland) extreme, snow in the winter and super hot and dry in the summer. Not only has the house been warmer in the winter (haven’t been there for the summer yet) we haven’t had an problem with condensation on the windows which is usually a problem in this area. We also can select window treatments based on decorative style rather than having to have heavy drapes to keep out the cold. Love seeing what you are doing with this project Kate.
The sliding door you installed doesn’t look like the French Rail Patio door (the bottom frame looks narrower) – is that really the style you used? We shopped a few years ago for a door and found that the thresholds on replacement doors were so high, they were a trip hazard so we haven’t purchased yet. How do you find your new door?
If anyone has any questions concerning the benefits replacing old windows, regardless of whether you buy ours, I would like to help. For instance, when you are looking at new windows, there are two figures to watch for. One is the U-factor (measuring how well the windows retain heat in your home). The other is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC – measuring how well the windows block the heat of the sun). There is also a great page explaining these items at: http://www.nfrc.org/windowratings/Energy-ratings.html
I can be reached at [email protected].
Working in the window industry – in response to Cindy’s green tint comment…There are various types of LowE coatings (Glass coating to help make energy efficient). That is where the green tint comes from. The higher level of LowE isn’t as green. If you do replace your windows, definitely invest in getting LowE. Not worth replacing your windows with just plain clear glass. The window dealer will have various samples to look at for comparison.
Also, there currently isn’t a federal Energy tax credit on getting new windows (as mentioned in the post). It expired in 2013. But there may be local rebates available.
I love seeing your post on new windows. I will send my customers to read it :)
Thanks Heidi, you’re correct, it expired last year BOO – here’s the link: http://energy.gov/savings/residential-energy-efficiency-tax-credit
Yes! We have replaced all of our windows about 4 years ago. We live in Houston and bought a 2 story townhouse built in the 70’s that had the original windows. Once we did that, our electric bill did a nose dive. We haven’t paid more than 150 for electricity–even in the hottest summer months. They are fantastic investment.
To offer an alternate experience/opinion:
I have to say I very much dislike the greenish cast of our Milgard low E vinyl replacement windows installed about 4 years ago. Especially when the windows are open, and double panes on top of each other, 4 layers thick, it is quite noticeable…sort of geriatric looking to me…sort of dingy and dreary. The bright afternoon sun that shines through them, when inside the house, is harsher to the eye in some indescribable way than the glorious way beautiful clear bright sun looks through plain glass. On a bright day, it changes all the paint, upholstery, stone, etc, colors in your rooms and gives everything a greenish cast. On a less sunny day, or rainy overcast day, itt doesn’t bother me as much, for some reason, it’s the beautiful, sunny summer days that look so harsh inside with the low e glass. In the summer, the relief from the south and west solar heat is, I will concede, excellent on the inside of the house…..however, note that the heat reflects directly to the outside of your house, so your patio/yard areas right outside the windows become really uncomfortably hot as a result. Difficult to find a plant tough enough for the south side patio now….a Rosemary bush is making it, though. We live in San Luis Obispo, and have never needed air conditioning due to our mild climate, so there is no significant energy savings from our investment since there is no AC to turn off…although I admit it is much much more pleasant to be inside the house on infrequent really hot days, and we do rarely run our ceiling fan now. I think in the winter, we use our heater significantly more now, because we have lost the lovely passive solar heat gain we used to get through our plain glass windows on cold but sunny winter days. The two small second story bedrooms on the north side of the house are so dark and gloomy all the time now, as a result of installing the low e glass in them, it’s really frustrating.
For anyone thinking about using low e glass, consider your part of the country and the loss of passive solar heat gain in winter. Consider the idea of putting the low e glass on just one or two sides of your home. If I were to do it again, I think I would install it only on the west side of our home, and put regular glass on the other three sides…would have been a good compromise. I would also take the advice above and see if there is significant difference in the coloration of low e glass available, and go with the clearest one available.
My late husband and I replaced all the windows in our Sun City West, Arizona home with low-E, happily while the rebates were being offered, and it was such an improvement, particularly energy-wise. Today, the credits are for solar panels. I still live in Sun City West in an HOA community (one of 106 or so in this community). Our homes are Gemini Twins (duplexes) built by Del Webb to look somewhat like sprawling mansions and our are mostly stucco exterior with a slightly Spanish Revival/Mediterranean style of dark-framed windows, a vaulted ceiling (though no high windows), an arch, etc. I totally love the look of those windows; however, they are 30 years old. We are allowed to replace them but the restriction (for which I’m grateful) is that the new windows must match the old in appearance – no shiny or white vinyl. No one (46 units) has been willing to spend the money for the dark color because it’s not “popular” so it’s more expensive. (One original owner replaced his with different vinyl brands one summer while the HOA Board was away and then got his misdeed grandfathered in instead of getting fined. Unfortunately his side of the duplex is on a corner and looks awful.) The other cheaper solution is to put solar screen on but when the rep showed them to me and, after I commented about how dark they were, remarked “Oh, yeh! It’s like looking out the window on a gloomy day”, I nearly tossed him out the door with the screens. If I wanted gloomy days, I would have settled with my husband in Portland, Oregon where he was from. Since this is my forever home and I don’t have funds to redo the windows anytime in the near future, I’ve gone with solar-ish blinds inside where I absolutely need them for energy efficiency (although a new air conditioner to replace the 30-year old original has made a dramatic difference). I think investigation into what’s out there and what can be done and doing a lot of homework is very important – too many people in our community don’t do this and go with someone just because they’re offering a deal. In my case, while I’m slowly building my replacement windows fund, there will be all kinds of new techniques being developed and maybe I’ll benefit from them. In any case, your windows look beautiful, Kate, and someone is going to get a beautiful “new” home in a year or two.
off topic: you have an entirely obnoxious ad on this page that keeps playing loud muic over and over again and it cannot be turned off; the pause button on it, and the sound button on it doesnt work. Had to turn off sound on my entire computer to get it to shut up. Going to the site it originates from to ‘opt out’ also does not work. We really just want to read your page without obnoxious over and over again noise. thanks.
Thanks for letting me know Kub I HATE those ads and I keep trying to shut them down from Google but for some reason it’s not working, I’ll look into it again.
I replaced all the windows in my 1973 home a few years ago – it was definitely one of the best home improvements I’ve done so far. I’m rewarded with lower utility bills, a safer home and a much easier time cleaning them (interior mullions, tilt-in sashes). Plus, now I can actually see out! (the old windows were beyond cleaning…) They were pricey (around $400/window), but worth every penny, in my opinion. Now I’m saving up for new French doors to be installed in the dining room out to a planned deck. I’m beyond excited.
You ROCK!!!!! Good for you to be a part of this program!!!
Did you choose a retrofit window where they install the new window over the frame of the old one? Or a new construction window where the have to redo the outside stucco because they remove the entire old window including the frame?
Both Pamela, the front tall window and the slider required completely taking out the old frame, the remaining windows were “retrofit”.
It’s so true that new windows can make a dramatic difference in the appearance of your home. We recently did a DIY window replacement in our century home and I just love the new windows! Like yours they’re so much prettier and they open and close so much easier, but I especially love how much money I save on heating and air now :)
Did Home Depot know about your blog? Just curious, because you received unheard of customer service. Sounds like you had a great subcontractor for the installation.
We live in a cold climate and spent a ridiculous amount of money on top of the line windows. And I have never looked back. Best decision I ever made for my house. Not only are we saving money on the energy bills but it’s so much better for the environment!
The Accidental Mama
I replaced all the windows (and doors) in my home a few years ago and it made a big difference. It looks great and it made a big difference in the temperature – up here in Canada we have really cold winters. With the old windows, in the winter I had to seal them with thin sheets of plastic to keep the cold out. Now, I can actually see out my windows all winter!
Another thing, which I didn’t see mention here is, depending on how old your windows are, there might be some hidden damage. When my window guy took out my old bedroom windows, he told me that I did it just in time. Apparently, the previous owners must have often left the windows open during the rain and the water slowly seeped into wood underneath the frame. Luckily, it hadn’t started to rot too much when I had the windows installed.
Replacing windows can make a huge, huge, difference!
I have a habit of sometime working from home and after working late one night, I had the epiphany to change the window. (Keep in mind the house was about 12 years old.) After the window change I was highly, highly impressed with what turned out and how much it changed the entire room.
Funny, I just used Simonton replacement windows on a renovation I am doing and I LOVE them. It was my first time using them and I am so glad I did. We got double lifetime warranty on them, labor and materials, which will be a great selling factor when we put the house on the market. I don’t know any other companies that do that. The house also didn’t have insulation (it was built 1950), so once we added insulation and the new windows, it was a huge difference in temperature in the house. Matt was right on this one :)
I’m in the midst of selecting new windows and a contractor to install the windows. We bought our house last November knowing that “someday” the wood windows would need to be replaced. “Someday” is coming sooner than we had anticipated due to a leak we discovered just a few days ago. My husband did some exterior investigation and found that the second floor window had not been flashed correctly (or at all), which meant that water has been running down behind the siding, and leaking through the window frame below. The wood sill was also completely rotted. In this case, it was more of an installation failure than a window failure, however, we are choosing to replace windows to something more energy efficient.
We live in New England with cold winters! I’m looking for a vinyl exterior window with either prefinished wood interior, or a nice looking vinyl interior – some interior vinyl details are very cheap, and not nice looking. Any suggestions of products, or does anyone have experience with Andersen, Marvin, or Harvey windows? Thanks!