This is our second post in our series of blogs on home improvement tips in Centennial, Colorado. Please visit our blog on Centennial siding to learn more about other home improvements you can make to your Colorado home.
Windows in Centennial, Colorado
The majority of the windows in Centennial, from the original build, are aluminum frames with single or thin, double-pane glass. Aluminum frames are very durable and impact resistant, but they have a tendency to condense and create enough moisture that can cause damage to the interior drywall and windowsill. Although most of them are thermally broken (rubber barrier between the glass and aluminum frame), condensation on the glass is not uncommon. Lastly, aluminum frames are poor insulators.
Typically, the windows used in new construction have clear glass in them. Clear glass means there is no additive such as a tint or low-e to improve energy efficiency or assistance blocking UV rays. Often times, if the new homeowner is involved in upgrades during the build, they are given the option for low-e but beware. Builder low-e glass is usually called “hard coat” low-e, which can be scratched and is a nominal improvement from clear glass. “Soft coat” low-e is what can provide enough of an improvement to make it meet Energy Star ratings.
How do I Know if my Windows in Centennial Need Replacing?
Aluminum windows should be upgraded in residential properties whenever possible. Aluminum windows are best suited in a commercial setting because they have better qualities that work well in structures taller than 3 stories.
If you have condensation on the frames, it’s time to replace them to preserve the integrity of the drywall and sill on the interior. Condensation on the glass can have a few contributors. First, as noted above, it can be caused by the heat/cold conductivity of the aluminum frame and it’s transferred to the glass. Second, the humidity inside the home can be exacerbating the issue. However, if you have aluminum windows, it is unlikely that correcting the humidity level in your home will completely resolve the condensation problem, but it can improve it.
There are glazing only companies in the market that are able to replace the glass only in the window; however, installing new glass with low-e in an aluminum window is unlikely to improve the energy efficiency significantly because there will continue to be substantial energy loss through the frame. Whereas in some circumstances glass only replacement can make a considerable improvement, this is not the case with aluminum frames. A full window replacement is recommended.
What Window Solutions Are Available?
There are three primary categories for residential replacement windows: vinyl, fiberglass (composite) and wood/clad, ordered from least to greatest in price.
Wood/clad windows are at the highest end of the price spectrum, and they can be energy star rated and change the entire look of the interior of the home with the warm wood window feel. Wood/clad windows are most commonly used in home $600,000 and up.
Homes that range in value from $300k to $600k typically have vinyl or fiberglass windows. Specifically, in Centennial, CO, the majority of homes that have replacement windows are made of vinyl. Vinyl windows are very affordable and low maintenance; they can come with options, so they meet Energy Star. There is a wide range of vinyl windows, so make sure to educate yourself on the quality. Low-grade vinyl windows are usually designed for modern day new construction and are only designed to last 10-15 years, before they will need replacing again. Unless you plan to flip a house where saving some bucks on the resale is in your best interest, we recommend middle to high-end vinyl windows in Centennial, CO.
Few buyers interested in a half-a-million-dollar home would be pleased to see some low-grade vinyl windows in the house. When you compare mid-level to high-end vinyl windows, the difference usually lies in some “hard to find” energy statistics. High-end vinyl windows will usually have better air leakage ratings, meaning they can block drafts more effectively. It’s considered “AI” or “Air Infiltration Rating”; the best vinyl windows will have a value less than .1 (the lower the better). High-end vinyl will often times have specialized glass packages, such as heat mirror glass, a next-generation technology that can block 99.5% of UV rays and is more energy efficient than triple paned glass.
There are a small group of window manufacturers that build a fiberglass, or some form composite, frame window. Composite frame windows expand and contract less than vinyl or wood, thus, designed to last longer. This is a fairly new product and over the next 10-20 years, the integrity of the frame will be tested.
It’s important to understand that price doesn’t always equal energy efficiency. Wood windows are not more energy efficient than vinyl or fiberglass, but you are purchasing the “wood look.” And not all vinyl windows are the same; a vinyl window can meet Energy Star, but be very drafty because it has a poor air infiltration rating. Energy Star does not account for air leakage in their certifications; it’s primarily U-value and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.
Choose the Right Windows For Your Centennial Home
When you purchase new windows, it’s important to consider the aesthetics, energy efficiency, air leakage and UV protection. Wood/clad, vinyl or fiberglass replacement windows will solve most, if not all, the issues faced with the builder grade aluminum windows.
Contact an experienced installer for more information on the best windows for your Centennial Home.