Looking out my window

By Francie Healey

When winter storms and summer rains swirl around your home, you’ll want windows that keep you dry, warm – and your energy bills lower.

If it’s time to replace them, there are many things to think about.

Should they be wood? Or vinyl?

Will they suit the style of your house, especially if your house is a heritage building?

Will they be easy to maintain? Do you need to trade ease of maintenance for the “look” you want?

Professional renovators will tell you the good thing about all the new and innovative designs and products in window manufacturing is that you can have it all. Some choices might weigh more in favour than others, but in the end, your home can have beautiful, energy-efficient and unique windows that are reliable and function well.

Wood has been the traditional material for windows for decades, and they are still the favourite of many, because they’re elegant and beautiful, and you can paint or stain them to exact colours on each side to match your interior and exterior design.

Modern wood-frame windows are strong and they have “high-thermal” efficiency.

However, they do cost more, and despite relatively low-maintenance, they will need a certain amount of upkeep, and that can add to their cost. Wood-frame windows in bathrooms or kitchen need more maintenance because of greater moisture in the air.

Vinyl-frame windows are also beautiful, and they really are maintenance-free. They are as thermally-efficient as wooden windows, but they are not as expensive. They’re factory-painted in a huge variety of colours.

Change in weather can cause stress on vinyl, so their design and quality is important. This is where your homework comes in. Research and visiting suppliers will help you to understand which brands you will want to choose, and why. There is an enormous amount of scientific information about how windows function and last, and it’s well worth while to learn as much of it as you can.

Your renovator will steer you in the right direction and help you decide which windows will be best for your renovation.

Let the sun shine in, and keep some of our challenging Canadian weather out – in style.

Francie Healey is Ottawa Renovate’s editor. She originally wrote this article for the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association RenoMark Renovators’ blog.

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