Replacing windows more than panes, frames

By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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Replacing the windows is a popular way to update your home. But it can be a significant financial investment and it involves doing some homework to make the best choices. Selecting the glass may be the easiest decision. An important aspect of new windows is benefiting from better energy efficiency and — at least until Dec. 31 — taking advantage of the tax credits. That means choosing low E glass, according to Erika Wallin, co-owner of Rocklin Window and Door with her husband, Rubin. She recommends low E3. “They’re dual-pane and each side of each piece of glass has three low-E-missivity coatings,” she explained. “It’s a thin lawyer of metallic oxide that has been applied and then baked onto the glass. It keeps heat from escaping or entering the home and it directs radiant heat back outside. In winter, the heat will stay inside. It won’t be transferred.” When it comes to frames, the choices are practically endless and encompass price and performance as well as wow factor. Vinyl is the most popular material. But there’s also wood and composites. Even aluminum still has its place. “(Aluminum gives a very nice slim design line and looks good on a modern home,” Wallin said. “More Mediterranean homes are going toward the aluminum because you can get it in dark bronze.” The downside of aluminum frames is that, because they’re metal, they conduct energy. “Those frames are going to heat in summer and get cold in winter,” Wallin said. She suggests vinyl or composite for the best energy efficiency. You can also opt for a combination of materials — for example, wood for the interior and aluminum on the exterior. “My favorite is a line called Finale,” Wallin said. “It has wood interior. That’s the best of both worlds. You get that beautiful wood look with the energy efficiency.” For vinyl, buyers will also want to focus on the strength of the frame. The stronger it is, the more insulating it will be, she said. The most popular vinyl shades are white, almond and clay (a gray-green tan). Price-wise, at the lower end, six basic windows and a patio slider will run between $2,500 and $3,000, she said. Mid-grade to high-quality products will cost a little to a lot more. Adding special features will increase the price tag even further. For example, there’s an easy-cleaning option — a special coating that fills all the pores. “All you do is hose down the windows, and the dirt won’t stick to them,” Wallin said. “It eliminates outside cleaning.” Another choice for easy cleaning is tilt-out windows. Often, replacing the windows includes purchasing a new slider or replacing the slider with French doors. For those on a tight budget, there’s a rail slider that looks like French doors. “It is very popular and affordable,” Wallin said. There are also conversion French doors, which eliminate the need to resize a conventional slider door opening. “The conversion doors are sized to go into a patio slider opening,” Wallin said. “We offer those through Neuma doors. The doors can have venting sidelights with screens on them.” Hardware, an added cost when replacing doors, can range from economical to very expensive. “There’s something for every budget,” she said. Once you’ve selected the doors and windows, installation is an additional cost. There are two ways to install vinyl windows — retrofit or new construction, Wallin said. Retrofitting, which entails cutting out the glass and leaving the aluminum frame, costs about half as much as completely cutting out the old window and putting in a new one. In Lake of the Pines, Jack and Jane Wertz recently replaced two sliding glass doors, 10 windows, an entry door and two garage doors on their late-1970s home. “Their home took on a total transformation,” Wallin said. “We put together a window configuration that would give the house more charm without spending a lot of money.” When replacing the windows on the Wertz home, the Wallins ran into a common problem — wood rot. “When we run into things like that, it’s not a big deal to repair,” Wallin said. “It’s part of (installing) windows. You never want to Band-Aid a problem. You don’t want to put in something new over something bad.” The Wertzes, who are very pleased with the results, chose vinyl. “I think the biggest reason is they outlast wood and we liked them a little better than metal,” Jack Wertz said. Wertz recommends setting a budget before walking into the showroom. “(Know) how much you can afford and the type of windows you want to get,” he said. He was able to save money on installation costs by doing some of the prep work himself. “We’re very happy with the end result,” he said. “They took a lot of time and they’re fastidious in their work. ... They definitely met our expectations.” The Wallins are former Auburn residents but now live and run their business in Rocklin. Rubin Wallin was a building contractor for about 10 years before deciding to specialize in windows, doors and garage doors. “We’ve done the homework already,” Erika Wallin said. “We know what brands hold up, which ones have the best warranty and the ones that are the most customer friendly and have been around for a long time.” ------------ Rocklin Window and Door Where: 4500 Yankee Hill Road, Suite B Phone: (916) 625-1900 On the Web: rocklinwin