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Home Improvement Guide 2007
Get ready
Before starting any home improvement project, research and planning is the key to successful results.
New windows give home quick face-lift
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When considering new windows, there are a number of factors to weigh:

1. New or replacement?
The first step in planning your window overhaul is deciding whether you need replacement windows or new construction windows. Don't let the term "new construction" fool you -- this does not necessarily apply only to windows in a newly built home. When it comes to windows, new construction means you are replacing the entire window unit, frame and all. This generally involves cutting the surrounding siding or wall, and is not a do-it-yourself project. The majority of home remodeling projects involve replacement windows, which are installed in the existing trim without affecting the siding. Installing a basic pre-hung replacement window is a task most homeowners can handle themselves.

With either type of window, one thing is crucial. "Measurement is the key," says Tom Kraeutler, co-host of  "The Money Pit," a nationally syndicated radio show dealing with home repair and improvement topics. "If your measurement is off, the window won't fit correctly and you will lose the thermal protection. Or, the window may not fit at all."

2. Custom or standard?
When considering replacement windows, you have a choice of either standard (stock) windows, or custom-made. Not surprisingly, custom windows will generally be more expensive. They also tend to be trickier to install, so you will probably need to hire a contractor. On the plus side, custom windows can open up a whole new realm of possibilities as far as window sizes and shapes. If your window openings are an unusual size or shape -- or if your home has a unique style and you want the windows to blend in nicely -- you might want to consider custom designs.

3. Style of window?
There are many different styles of windows. Here are the most common:

Most common styles of windows
Fixed-pane: These windows do not open, so obviously they're not a good choice for areas where you may want a breeze. Fixed windows are mainly for decorative use. However, they are energy efficient (in very cold or hot climates, an extra layer or two of glazing can add increased protection against the elements).
Bay/Bow: A bay or bow window generally consists of several windows in one: a large window in the center, flanked by a window on each side. The side windows are set at an angle or in a circular set-up, to give the overall unit the hallmark bay or bow window look.
Hung and double-hung: Hung windows are the traditional type of windows with two panels. Only the lower sash may open -- or, in the case of double-hung windows, both the upper and lower sashes can open and close.
Sliding: These windows feature sashes that slide back and forth vertically on a track.
Casement: These have hinges on the side and open similar to a door.
Double-pane: A double-pane window features two sheets of glass, with a small area of dead space between. These windows are becoming increasingly popular due to their greater energy efficiency, but they tend to be more prone to problems (frequently due to improper installation).
Single-pane: Many older homes still have single-pane, wood-frame windows, which can be quite wasteful -- energy loss through single-pane windows and leaks around the sash can drive up a home's cooling and heating costs by as much as 50 percent. Single-pane windows are still available, but are used mainly in garages and sheds.
-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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