To ensure that your new windows fully meet your expectations, you should carefully consider what you want out of them. Fixing mistakes later on can be very difficult, if not impossible – not to mention expensive.
Compatibility with the building
The first thing to do before ordering windows is to consider their compatibility with the building as well as any neighbouring buildings, because the windows must also be acceptable to the housing cooperative, and in some cases it may even be necessary to obtain permission from the National Heritage Board. Think about the wind load and sound level in the area, the orientation of the windows, and whether they should open inwards or outwards. Consider colour options and their compatibility with the building and the neighbourhood. Give some thought to the purpose of the rooms where the windows are to be installed, and how often the rooms will be occupied, because modern windows are airtight. Analyse the future ventilation solution in the room and whether it is energy-efficient. Adequate ventilation is essential for the health of the occupants of the room.
One of the most important choices when purchasing windows is that of the framing material, although the framing only accounts for about 10–12% of the surface of the window. As such, the role of the framing in thermal insulation is relatively modest, because most of the window is glazed and the glazing has a much greater effect on thermal insulation. The framing should be selected based on the type of the building, i.e. whether it is an apartment building or a detached house. Of course, it is always worth considering the price as well, as plastic framing is generally more affordable.
Double or triple glazing?
Window buyers can often choose between double- and triple-glazed windows. In this respect, keep in mind that there is not much point in installing a highly insulating window in an uninsulated wall. Neither is it effective in rooms with inadequate ventilation. However, with a double-glazed insulating glass unit, the risk of “sweating”, i.e. condensation on the windows is higher.
Triple-glazed windows are heavier than double-glazed windows, but much warmer. Of course, they are also slightly more expensive.
Windows as a barrier against noise and excessive sunlight
Window buyers often want their new windows to be soundproof. The easiest and most affordable way to achieve this is with insulating glass units with panes of different thicknesses. Another option is using specialty glass, though this comes at a steeper price. In a first-floor apartment, window security can also be an important consideration. There are a number of insulating glass unit solutions and systems of fittings available for that purpose. Meanwhile, excessive sunlight can be kept out with the help of special solar control glass.
Post-installation maintenance and warranty
Before making the final choice, you may also want to consider the maintenance requirements of the windows. Wiping off dust and dirt is elementary, but window sealsalso require care and lubrication, as do the fittings. Regular maintenance (cleaning, lubrication) is generally easy enough to handle independently, but adjusting the windows, replacing the seals, and other work related to the performance of the windows is best left to qualified specialists. The condition of the windows should be continuously monitored. Users should also carefully read any user and maintenances guides and warranty terms.
Note the warranty period and any exclusions, whether you are buying from the manufacturer or a distributor, as well as whether the vendor is likely to still be able to assume liability for its products in five years’ time. A window is a construction product and as such must be CE-marked and come with a user manual (including instructions for the installation and maintenance of the window). Windows are regulated by the European standard EN 14351-1.
Consult experts for advice, take a look at the manufacturers’ installation instructions, and see if you can check out any previously installed windows. Compare quotes from multiple vendors. When choosing windows, it is best to follow the old window fitters’ adage of measure twice and install once.