Author Archives: Bob Green

Choosing Patio Doors for your Home

replacement patio doors

Key Things to Know About Patio Door Replacement Options

Patio doors in your home allow for easy access to the outdoors in addition to providing attractive floor to ceiling views of the scenery outside.

Styles and Features:

  • Sliding Patio Doors
  • French Doors
  • Garden Doors
  • Wood Framed Doors
  • Steel Clad Wood Doors
  • Aluminum Framed Doors
  • Fiberglass or Vinyl

Outdated patio doors, however, not only compromise your family’s security, they can also increase your HVAC bills by leaking air and providing poor insulation. When its time to replace worn out patio doors, it pays to review your many different options before making a final selection in order to ensure you get the best value with features that make your home more beautiful.

Patio Doors Come In Four Major Styles

Sliding patio doors are among the most popular patio door options, both for their aesthetic appeal and their functionality. They allow for maximum entry of natural light into a room and are very easy to maintain. Sliding doors feature two or more panels, one of which is mounted on hidden rollers to effortlessly slide back and forth when opening the doors. Because the sliding motion is parallel to the wall, this style doesn’t obstruct walking paths or furniture placement.

French patio doors, also called hinged patio doors, consist of two door panels attached at the sides and then meeting at the center when closed. Each of the two hinged doors opens independently and can swing outwards into the patio or inwards toward the room when open. The multi-locking feature of French patio doors is great for homeowners who want added security, since this style of door can be sealed shut at the top, center and bottom.

Garden doors are similar looking to french doors. They can have 2 or more panels and typically, only one of the panels is an operating door. The other panel is fixed. Three panel garden doors might have the fixed panel in the middle and operating doors on either side.

Folding patio doors is another option, and consist of a series of door panels that can slide along an overhead track. This enables the door to fold into itself accordion-style in order to allow the widest area possible exposed to the outdoor patio. This style is suitable for a range of door widths, ranging from two to eight panels.

Patio Doors in Wood, Steel, Fiberglass Clad or Vinyl Clad

When choosing the type of material for patio door replacements, there are half a dozen options. Wood offers a warm appearance, is available from a variety of tree species but needs constant maintenance and is the most costly option. Vinyl is durable, affordable and rot resistant, while aluminum is another economical choice that is lightweight yet strong. Clad-wood provides a metal coating over door, providing the benefits of both for a low maintenance patio door. Fiberglass can mimic the appearance of wood with less maintenance and good for any climate.

Options and Special Features

Consider such special features as built-in internal blinds and the choice of hardware finish as well as options in the insulating double-glazed glass units with different SHGF (solar heat gain factor or coefficient) Low-E rating and visible light ratings.

Remember, just because you have a sliding door now does not mean you have to replace with another sliding door. You have options and may want to choose a different style for either aesthetics or pattern of use.

Preparing for your Replacement Window Estimate

Tips to Prepare for An Accurate Window Estimate

Replacement Windows Houston TX

When you invest in replacement windows for your home, you are making an investment that improves the style and comfort of your home’s environment in addition to helping you save money through increased energy efficiency.

New Replacement Windows:

  • Save You Money on Heating and Cooling
  • Make Your Home More Attractive
  • Contribute to increases Safety and Security
  • Increase Resale Value
  • Offer Years of Comfort and Enjoyment

In order to ensure that you get the type of replacement windows that best suit your home’s needs at the best price, there are several key things to consider in preparation for getting a window estimate.

Number of Windows and Location

Prior to getting an estimate, count the number of windows you have and don’t forget to include any obscured glass windows already in the bathroom or other areas of the home where you want the natural light windows provide but also require privacy. Make a list of these window locations and ask yourself if there are any windows you may want to change styles or any locations that might be best converted into a door.

Types of Replacement Windows

It’s important to know what type of replacement windows would best meet your needs and offer you the features you want. Wood windows are very attractive but require the most investment as well as regular maintenance. They are easy to paint or stain in a color to match your existing d├ęcor. Clad-wood windows offers the appeal and insulation features of wood without the extensive maintenance. Vinyl windows are a good choice, impervious to moisture with no maintenance required, but they can’t be painted. Fiberglass windows are temperature and moisture resistant as well as paintable, but are only available in certain sizes. Aluminum is an affordable replacement window choice. They are durable and easy to clean, but unless they are thermally broken, offer poor insulation in cold climates and subject to moisture condensation.

Replacement Window Styles

There are numerous styles of windows available, so it pays to consider the benefits each may offer. Casement windows can be hinged to open from the right or left hand side for easy opening with a crank. Double-hung windows feature two moveable panels that slide up or down for easy opening. Fixed, or picture windows, are appropriate for areas where you want to enjoy the view but don’t need to open the window. An awning window is hinged at the top so that the window slopes downward when opened to prevent rain access.

Replacement Window Glass Options

Depending upon the location of the window (adjacent to a door for example) you may need tempered glass depending on the code in your area. There are two major types of Low-E glass (2/70 and 3/66) and there is also laminated glass options. Most manufacturers have a glass package that is matched to our geographic area and climate.

Armed with our tips on the available options and possible style changes, etc. You’re ready to get started on your replacement window project.

Replacement Window FAQ

Here are some of the top questions we get for Replacement Windows from our Houston area clients

Window Styles and Features

Replacement Window Terms and FAQ

Photo Credit: Angie’s List

  1. What does Double Hung Mean? Double hung windows have two sashes and are arranged vertically. Both sashes operate meaning that the lower sash slides up and the upper sash slides down. The benefits of double hung are the ability to vent the room from the top of the window by opening the upper sash a little. This is safer than opening the lower sash when considering where burglars and prowlers enter a home.
  2. What is a Vent Lock? Vent locks are integrated lock mechanisms that prevent the window from opening past a vented position. This is also a safety precaution against break-ins and unauthorized entry.
  3. What is a Tilt Sash? Double and single hung windows offer a tilt sash feature which is a locking mechanism that allows the sash to tilt in when unlocked. This is safe and very convenient for cleaning the outside glass surface from inside the home. Removal of the sashes for repair/replacement/cleaning is also possible after tilting the windows in. Always be sure to re-lock the window tilt locks after use.
  4. What is the Super Seal? The SuperSeal is the rubber spacer in between the surfaces of the glass around the perimeter edge. It keeps the two glass surfaces separated creating an air gap. This makes heat transfer nearly impossible between the exterior and the interior glass. In many cases, the air gap is filled with an inert gas such as argon to increase the insulating property of the window.
  5. What is SHGF or SHGC? These acronyms are for the Solar Heat Gain Co-efficient or Factor. This is an NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) standards of measurement. Energy Star recognizes these standards. The SHGF is the window’s ability to reduce the effects of solar heat passing through the window and heating up the interior of the home. Doors and skylights are also rated this way. Energy Star recommends a .25 number here but the numbers can be much more efficient than this. The lower the better in hot climates. .16 is even possible. In colder climates where you want the heat from the sun…say Minnesota, you want higher numbers. But for replacement windows in Houston, stay as low as possible.
  6. What is the UF or U-Factor? This is another NFRC number (see SHGF for explaination) but this one rates the window’s ability to keep your home insulated. That means keeping the heated air in during the winter and keeping the cool air in during the summer.
  7. What is Low-E? Low E or Low Emmissivity refers to the amount of UV light that is reflected off of the windows so that the light can not penetrate the window and fade your fabrics. It is a light, invisible oxide coating on the interior surface of the glass. There are two main standards: 2/70 and 3/66. The first number represents the number of coatings applied. Either 2 coatings or 3 coatings. The second number is the amount of visible light allowed into the room. 70% and 66% respectively.
  8. What is an Oriel Window? When windows are over 60″ or so, the sashes become too heavy to utilize a double hung design. In this case, the window size will be divided up, usually about a 60/40 split with the upper sash being the larger and becoming a fixed sash. Essentially, an oriel window is a single hung window with a larger proportion dedicated to the top sash.

Record Lows in Houston! – Replacement Windows Help Keep the Cold Out

The latest storm that has dipped down into the deep south is named Ion. And, man is it a cold one. Here in Houston, it reached down into the mid 20’s and might even be colder tomorrow! This screenshot was taken at about 1:30pm…at almost the warmest part of the day.

double pane windows insulation from cold

Screen Shot Credit: Houston Chronicle 1/6/2014

Brrrrr. It makes me shiver just looking at temps that low. Now, go stand near your windows. Do you feel a draft? There are basically 3 ways that your old windows can and do make your home colder.

  • Improper Fit Our homes settle over time. The window and door openings become out of square (if they ever were square) and air leaks develop.
  • Poor Insulating Frame Those original aluminum frames without an insulating break are transferring cold.
  • Poor Insulation from Glass Single pane glass is a horrible insulator.

Your Original Windows are Inefficient Insulators

When your builder built your home, he basically had to comply with local building code as well as save cost to maximize profit. Home building is not a real high margin business. Until recently, all new windows were single pane, single strength glass and the frames were simple extruded or even roll formed aluminum. The exterior frame and the interior frame were really one extrusion. They were held together with screws in the corners.

Single pane glass was glazed into the frames with a little bit of rubber or silicon based gasket to “insulate” the glass from the frame material. How did that work out? Horribly!

The original windows were not efficient to begin with but now that they are 10 years or more old, they are getting worse. Mostly, because your home is settling (don’t worry, it’s normal) and your windows are starting to have little gaps around them. Gaps that let the cold air in and the warm air out! All that gas and electricity you are spending your hard earned dollars for trying to heat your home is just going out the windows.

Windows constructed with a single extruded aluminum molding allows temperature transfer between the outside and inside air. This means that when the frames get hot on the outside from the sun, the heat transfers to the inside and radiates off the interior surface. In cold weather, the frames get cold and then the warmer air inside causes the window to sweat. You’ll get condensation on the interior glass when they sweat.

The Science of Double Pane Windows as Insulators

When windows include two panes of glass, there are a couple of manufacturing changes in the way the window is constructed. First of all there is a spacer that is used between the panes of glass. This is the “gasket” that resides between the panes and creates the air gap. The spacer is usually rubber or urethane (both excellent insulators) and eliminate the heat and cold transfer between interior facing glass and exterior facing glass.

The air gap itself is important and quality windows have between ¾" or 7/8" and up to one inch. This is an effective insulating feature but is made much better when you fill that air gap with a heavier than air gas like argon gas. A nice wide air gap with argon and a great spacer combination provides an excellent insulated window.

Improvements in Replacement Window Frames

The final manufacturing piece of the puzzle is the frame. Modern replacement windows are constructed of virgin vinyl extrusions with welded corners. There are internal channels built into the extrusions that build up the rigidity and increase the insulating factor.

What’s the Final Piece of the Replacement Window Decision?

Finally, installation makes a big difference in the way that your new windows will perform. Houston Window Experts will custom measure each opening and custom order a window for each specific opening. This is important because, remember, your home has settled and the framing is not square anymore.

The “big box stores” have some cheap windows in stock. Stock windows were made square (meaning the corner angles are 90°) plus are usually in whole or half inch increments only. These will not do! On these stock windows the contractor will be shimming and filling the gaps with putty and wood. Or chopping the frame up with a sawzall.

Houston Window Experts will order your replacement windows much more precisely. Jeff and his crew will achieve a nice tight fit requiring only caulking. Now sawing, shims or putty.

Houston Replacement Windows Final Result

Tight, correctly measured windows that insulate against these arctic air blasts Houston is known for this time of year.