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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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These days, windows are made from several different types of materials. Each has good and bad points.

Window frame materials
Vinyl Affordable; energy-efficient. Vulnerable to extreme temperatures; difficult to paint.
Aluminum Inexpensive.Tends to let heat and cold inside.
FiberglassVery energy efficient; less vulnerable to extreme temperatures.More expensive.
WoodTraditional choice; sturdy and durable; high thermal value.Can be high-maintenance; prone to weathering; heavy and more expensive.

Other window considerations

  • Geography: Certain window materials are more prone to problems related to extreme temperatures. If you live in a very hot or cold climate, windows made from fiberglass may be your best bet.
  • Energy efficiency: This is an important consideration, especially in colder regions. You want the windows to offer as much protection from the outside temperature as possible, to help lower your heating or cooling bills. Look for the U-value, which indicates how well the window keeps out heat and cold. The lower the U-value, the better.
  • Appearance: Remember, windows are one of the few parts of a home that are visible from both the inside and the outside. So you want them to look attractive and mesh well with the overall style and feel of your home.
  • Difficulty of installation: Window installation can vary widely in degrees of difficulty, depending on the type, size and location of the windows involved.
  • Upkeep: Aluminum and fiberglass tend to require less maintenance, while wood windows need more upkeep. 

Choosing a contractor
If you decide to have a contractor install your new windows, it might be wise to first select the type (and brand) of windows you want. The manufacturer can then provide you with a list of approved installers (who specialize in those types of windows) in your area.

Tip: If you install Energy Star-rated windows before the end of the year, you can qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $500. To learn more about the tax credit (and find out which type of windows qualify), visit

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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