Last Updated on October 14, 2015

7 Things To Consider When Replacing Your Windows

By Alan F Macdonald

So your windows are crappy. In Edmonton, unless your windows are relatively new, they probably suck. This city gets too cold to be leaving old windows in those giant square holes in your walls. You should really get new ones. So, read on to know what to consider when replacing windows.


New windows can increase the value of your home significantly

So this is the number one reason why you haven’t replaced you windows yet. I know it is. Windows are expensive, they really are. Depending on how many different sizes you have, materials you use, manufacturer,  and features you choose window prices can well over 10% of the cost of your home. On the other hand, people often spend that much on kitchen renovations alone and whereas having a sweet kitchen is really great, new windows can not only increase the value of your home significantly, but also make your life indoors much more enjoyable.


You’re going to open and close your windows a lot and some windows are pretty flimsy so they won’t hold up to any sort of abuse. When choosing windows think about who will be using them – if you’re going to have renters, or kids, choose carefully. You don’t want to be replacing latches, locks, pulls and window operators all the time. Some windows also sag over time because of their design or materials. Wood windows can shift and tall, wide windows can bind in their openings. Typically, PVC windows will hold up well against Edmonton sun and snow, but some cheaper vinyls can crack and dry out. As with anything, you often get what you pay for, so if you’re planning on spending a long time in your home, take that into account as well.


Most people don’t know that there are only a few kinds of windows that meet egress guidelines for bedrooms. Windows have to open up easily without any special knowledge or tools very easily in an emergency situation (like a fire). Unless you have a sprinkler system in your home (not the one on your lawn), you probably need to have sliding windows in the bedrooms. On the upside, these are the cheapest windows, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Consult your window company to make sure everything is safe and up to code before you buy anything. Most companies will tell you if something is legal or not, but not everyone will give you the heads-up.

Types & Styles

Perhaps you have a wicked old house and you don’t want plasticky shiny windows in your home – I feel your pain. It’s hard to take out beautiful wood windows even if they do nothing for your heating bill. What can you do instead? Well you could get storm windows that cover your old windows, but these are usually a stop-gap – replacement still works best. Typically what people do now is get a vinyl window or a vinyl/wood window hybrid designed to match the style of the home and replace the older windows with that. This mean you can get the same look without the same poor insulating factor. Be warned though, this is for people who have a buttload of cash. These windows cost the earth, but that’s because they are much more customized than other windows are.

If you have a newer home, be sure to still think about how everything will look when your windows are installed. Be wary of coloured frames like beige and brown – they won’t be in style for long and may not match changes made to the exterior of the home. Often white is the best colour to go with and likely the least expensive as well. And besides how they look, window function is important. Awning windows allow you to open a window even if it’s raining outside, but they don’t offer the best ventilation. Casement windows are meant to catch breezes, but are subject to warping, sagging and operator trouble. Sliding windows are great, but offer a half the ventilation of hinged windows. All these things are very important, so be sure you’re up to speed with what’s available. There’s nothing worse than getting the wrong thing for your home – and believe me, there is a right and a wrong window for some places.


Stick with double glazed windows for older homes

These days, windows have an airspace between two or three panes of glass. This keeps heat in in the winter and out in the summer. Insulated glass units or sealed units have revolutionized the R-values of windows. But be carefule not to overdo it either; put it this way, if you have 2×4 walls, you don’t need triple glazed windows – the walls will be colder than the glass – it just isn’t necessary. Typically its best to stick with double glazed windows (2 panes of glass) for older homes. If you have a new home with 2×6 walls and are thinking of installing triple glazed windows, that makes more sense because the insulation in the walls will more closely match the insulating factor of the windows.

Low-E Coatings

For a number of years now special coatings on window glass have been available. There are a lot of options so I won’t go into all of them, but basically you can get a cheap one and an expensive one. The more expensive coating is like having another pane of glass in the window and keeps heat from entering in the summer by reflecting ultra-violet light and infra-red light. This can be pretty nice when you don’t have air conditioning, which few people have in Edmonton. Most windows will come with a low-e coating automatically, but be sure to ask which one and ask what that means. For example, you don’t want to be cooking in front of  a south facing window for no reason. On the other side of the house, you’ll have a north facing window which really needs no coating. Perhaps there is some savings in considering this when you’re looking to replace your windows.

Full Frame Change or Inserts

If you don’t mind having smaller windows than before, you can get insert windows

Replacing old windows means old junk comes out and new shiny stuff goes in. But not everything has to come out. If you don’t mind having smaller windows than before, you can get insert windows that just slot into the original frame. This costs less even though the installers will have to cap your old outside frame with aluminum to match it to your new windows. If you want everything to be new, however, a full frame change is the best way to go. That means all the old wood frame will also be torn out and replaced with new stuff. And as an added benefit, your window opening will be a little larger than they would be if you just stuck inserts into the existing frame. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons when you choose which way to go.

Seeing the Light

Windows are important. I’ve seen some really poor examples showing homes in Edmonton. Few things make a house look worse than crap windows that rattle in broken tracks. During an Edmonton winter, some windows will be so frosted up that you can’t see through them for months. Don’t forget, there are windows for a reason. You might want to actually see what it’s like outside, get some natural light and not feel like you’re living in a cave. All great reasons to get some quotes and replace your windows.


by +Alan F Macdonald REALTOR® | Copyright © –


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