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The Big Picture On Window Replacement

Maintaining Your New Windows

If you choose wood windows, you will have to upkeep them. Wood reacts to weather and moisture by cracking, warping and peeling, so it requires more maintenance. You have to repaint wood and keep it sanded and free from rot. Some people use wood on the inside and vinyl on the outside.

Wood is also subject to insect damage; other materials are not.

Vinyl windows are low maintenance; in fact; rainfall is often enough to keep them clean. However, many people wash them with mild, non-abrasive cleaners from time to time. They never need to be painted. Scratches do not show because the color goes all the way through.

Fiberglass windows can be painted. They do not rot or need maintenance.

You can now buy "low maintenance" glass that not only insulates, but sheds water and dirt.

Guarantees and Warranties

You can usually get lifelong guarantees on vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass, but not wood. Although wood windows last for years, they do not hold up as long as other materials.

Environmental Concerns

Many people have expressed environmental concerns about using vinyl and wood in building materials. When you use wood, you are using up a natural resource. Because wood has to be replaced more often and does not provide good insulation, these factors impact the environment negatively.

In 2005, scientists from the U.S. Green Building Council reviewed 2500 studies of vinyl and other materials make a report to the Environmental Protection Agency. They concluded that vinyl is environmental friendly because it saves energy. In another study done in 2001, researchers found that vinyl materials were contributing about 1% of dioxin levels in a house using vinyl siding and windows. Since then the vinyl industry voluntarily reduced these emissions by 70 percent.

Certified Products, Licensed Contractors

The most important factors when you replace your windows are buying the best materials you can afford and having them installed by licensed, professional contractors.

Windows that are certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) have met tough standards for durability and safety. (Products manufactured by companies such as Pella and Anderson often meet these high standards.) They have to be made of high quality vinyl, weather stripping and glass. They have to have strong connections to be certified. Cheap grades of vinyl are not as durable and quickly turn yellow. Heat from direct sunlight can cause problems with cheap grade vinyl, and make it less rigid.

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a non-profit organization formed in the early 1970s when manufacturers were making outrageous claims of energy savings through window and door treatment. Today their job is to rate windows, doors and skylights for energy efficiency in a fair and accurate way. Look for the NFRC, ANSI and AAMA labels on your window replacements.

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