Windows & Patio Doors: Cost, Materials and Installation?
WE NO LONGER SELL WINDOWS OR SLIDING GLASS PATIO DOORS BUT HERE ARE SOME USEFUL TIPS!!
Lets start with COST: How much does it cost to replace a window?
Well ... if you are replacing only the glass (because you already have vinyl frames, just a broken pane of glass) you can get a double pane window with inert gas done for about $250. Note: with Eco Advantage every purchased window also comes with a Screen & Glass Replacement Waranty so the glass replacement cost is zero!). Otherwise you are looking at approx $750 per 59 x 36 window. If the price offered is too good to be true ... don't buy! You are likely getting windows that are not efficient, and/or they are not replacing the frame, just building a new window to fit into the existing frame. Make sure you know what you are getting. If they don't remove the old frame and start over from the studs, you are not getting energy efficiency. Up to 28% of energy loss is through aluminum frames!
How about Materials? In Arizona, builders like to use aluminum because it is least expensive, and THEY DON'T HAVE TO PAY THE A/C BILL! The proper choice for Arizona is either Virgin Vinyl, or Vinyl Coated Wood frames. The wood frames are more expensive, more maintenance, and more expensive for a slightly better energy performance. Virgin Vinyl frames are the best value for cost & efficiency. Properly coated double pane windows are less expensive and outperform triple pane windows, so don't get carried away thinking more is better! Single pane windows are simply useless so don't even replace if they are the only choice.
INSTALLATION: How messy is it?
Surprising to most folks replacing windows is relatively quick (up to about 8 windows in a day) and very clean! Typically the professional installer will work one window at a time. He removes the old window panes, then uses a saw to cut through one side of the existing window frame. Then a crow bar or pry tool to pull the frame away from the stud, and presto! the frame is out. Now a little sanding and vacuuming makes the opening ready for the new window. The new window is placed in the opening and secured with nails into the stud. Then calk around the inside and outside edges, and if necessay, a little drywall or stucco patching and on to the next window!
Remember, the time to be creative is when you are ORDERING your new windows. Visualize that the existing window is gone and you now have to fill the opening. Use your imagination! You can change from a single hung (up & down) to a single slider (side to side), or double hung / double slider, or a picture window, or a picture window over a small slider, etc..... costs to fill the opening are different based on HOW you fill it, but not too prohibitive to get creative!
Also keep in mind that a company that just makes a new window to go into your old frame is NOT doing you any favors by saving on installation costs because the old frame will continue to be a trouble spot for energy loss unless it is already virgin vinyl!