Answering Your Replacement Windows FAQs
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Universal Windows Direct.
Earlier this spring, I wrote about the replacement windows we had installed in our kitchen, first-floor bathroom, and main bedroom. We were so pleased with the end result that we decided right then and there that we wanted to tackle some of the other problematic windows in our house.
Our living room has a lot of windows – nine to be exact. And in the winter it gets so freakin’ cold in here because the windows are old, drafty, and some of the seals are broken (see below). My poor mom would come over bundled up to watch Rory because that’s where they would spend most of the day playing. After this rough winter, we knew we needed to replace these windows.
I had the team from Universal Windows Direct come and take a look at the living room and while they were here, I figured I might as well have them take a peek at the two windows in our future nursery. I thought iff they were bad and drafty, then it was probably a good idea to replace them, since the crib will be near those windows when we eventually design the room. They looked at the nursery windows and said we should add them to the to-do list. All in all, we decided to replace eleven more windows in our home.
If you remember from my first post about our windows, I had Universal Windows Direct give me an estimate for every single window in our home. They offer a price lock guarantee, per window, for up to two years. So if you need to do your entire home in phases, as we are doing, they will honor that original estimate that they gave for the window.
About six weeks after placing my order, I got a call to set up installation. The day before the team from Universal Windows Direct came out for the install, I got to work taking down all of the window treatments in the living room and guest room. That way, they would be out of the way so the team could just get right to work. Also, I didn’t want my curtains getting too dusty from all of the action.
It took three installers an entire day to get all of the windows done. Luckily, it was a nice day and they did a lot of the work from the outside of the house. Between the window installation and the backyard renovation, our house was full of workers! Because of that, Rory and I decided to head out of the house to escape the dust and noise, so I didn’t get to witness too much of the install, but if you want to see more behind-the-scenes, this blog post has an entire video!
When we returned, we were amazed at the new windows. Let’s take a look…
Our New Living Room Windows
Benjamin Moore “Ballet White” (walls) & “Simply White” (trim) // Flooring // Doors & Knobs // Window Treatments // Gallery Wall // Sources
For all of the replacement windows, I chose white vinyl on the inside and white paint on the exterior. I also chose white hardware so it would look seamless against the windows. Here in the front of our house, I went with double-hung windows on the sides and then a big picture window with two crank-out windows flanking it. This was the same setup we had before and we liked it, so I knew that it would work well again.
I like the crank mechanism on these windows because it tucks down when not in use. It’s always a pain having a big crank standing up and getting in the way, especially if you have your blinds pulled down.
On the side of the house, we have three more double-hung windows. Our old ones were a pain in the butt to lift up and down. I literally had to use my entire body to push the window up! Now, I can do it one-handed. It’s pretty awesome.
View from the Outside
Here’s a look at the outside on our porch…the left is our old window and the right is the new replacement window from Universal Windows Direct. It’s so much better…clean and fresh!
Here’s a before and after of the front of our house. If you look closely, you can see that they replaced the casing around the window with new bright white siding. Everything just looks crisp and clean. I love it!
And here are those double-hung windows on the side of our house. We have an arch here that is original to the house and they were able to keep it and cut the casing to fit perfectly.
Our New Nursery Windows
The nursery now has two new double-hung windows. It feels good knowing that these will keep out the cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Oh, and did I mention they also reduce sound transmission from the outside? Um yes, please!
I suppose this is the first official task we’ve crossed off in the nursery! Now it’s time to get our butts into gear and work on the remainder of this space.
Replacement Windows FAQs
I know the entire window process can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before. I asked if you had any questions on Instagram and received tons of responses. Here’s a look at those replacement windows FAQs…
How do you know you need new windows?
For us, we knew that our windows were almost 30 years old and we could physically feel the cold drafts during the winter. Those were telltale signs that it was time for an upgrade in our house. But if you have moisture damage, your energy bills jump up, or you need noise reduction from the outside, you might want to consider replacing your windows.
Did you measure or did someone come out to measure for you?
With Universal Windows Direct, they do all of the measuring for you. And thank goodness, because I think I would be terrified that I would measure incorrectly. (I always triple-check when I order window treatments!)
How do you choose a material for windows?
The most common materials are wood, vinyl, and aluminum. Wood windows are popular because they can add a lot of warmth to a home. That’s what our old windows were made of. We just painted them white when we moved in. However, wood comes with maintenance and it’s susceptible to water damage and moisture. If you don’t maintain it, it can peel, chip, and even rot. Aluminum windows are best suited for climates that don’t get super cold temperatures because they don’t keep heat inside very well. And sometimes frost can even form on the inside of the windows!
We chose vinyl for all of the replacement windows in our home. They’re the most affordable, energy-efficient, and they’re virtually no-maintenance. However, not all vinyl is the same. You want 100% virgin vinyl because it’s the most durable. This post from Universal Windows Direct goes into more detail comparing the various types of windows.
How do you know which window style is right for your home?
For the most part, I chose a replacement window that was the same style as the old window. I like double-hung windows because you can clean them from the inside of your home (more on that below) and I just wanted windows that let in as much light as possible.
Oh, and a tip for you! I chose to only use screens on the bottom half of the double-hung windows. That way, more light can be let in through the top and if I open the window (from the bottom) the screen will be there so bugs can’t get in.
Does Universal Windows Direct only do replacement windows? What if I want to add a window where there isn’t one?
This is a good question and I reached out to Universal Windows Direct to answer it. They said it depends on the exterior of the home and your best bet is to call and chat with a sales expert to get more information. We’re planning to move a window and make a much bigger opening when we eventually renovate our main bathroom next winter, so hopefully, I’ll have some experience with this to share soon!
Do you have to replace the interior trim or the outside siding near the windows?
Soooo many of you asked about this. I was a tad nervous that they would rip out all of the trim when replacing the windows and we would be left with a mess on our hands. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case! The trim stayed on and they were able to work around it to get the new windows installed. They even recaulked everything. I did have to do a few paint touch-ups after they left, which only took a few minutes.
But I do think it depends on your home and the type of window replacement that is done. You can ask this question when placing your order so you’re prepared.
How do you clean the upstairs windows?
The double-hung windows actually tilt in so I can wash them! That means no going outside on a big ladder to clean. Heck yes. (P.S. I use this e-cloth to clean all of my windows and glass and it works like a charm!)
Is there any maintenance with windows?
Vinyl replacement windows are virtually maintenance-free! They never require any painting, just cleaning.
How long do windows last?
Windows last about 20 to 25 years. The windows I chose come with a true lifetime warranty which covers all parts and labor for as long as you own the home. It’s also 100% transferrable to the next homeowner for thirty years.
Will my old window treatments still work?
It really depends. In our main bedroom, I had to ditch my bamboo shades once our new windows were installed because the new window casing was too shallow. But in our living room, all of the window treatments went back up easily. If possible, have the new windows installed first and then order your window treatments. Or opt for curtains!
Let’s Talk Cost
The most popular question I received surrounded cost and I wasn’t surprised by that at all! If you’ve never purchased something before, how are you supposed to know how much it costs? Let’s break it down…
Why are windows so pricey? What are the costs? Is labor included? Any other hidden fees?
Windows are an investment that have the potential to pay for themselves with an increased resale value and energy savings. We have done so much work to this home and it seemed silly not to replace the windows along with all of the other improvements. It will definitely help when we go to sell this place.
There isn’t a typical “one size fits all” pricing structure for windows because there are so many different ways to customize them. Homeowners can expect to pay $800-$1200 per unit at Universal Windows Direct and that includes labor. Also, be on the lookout for deals throughout the year. I know Universal Windows Direct does have a buy one window, get one window free promotion right now, along with zero interest and zero payments for 24 months. So there are always financing options if you need them!
Well, our first floor officially has all new windows! Our second floor still has a handful that need to be replaced – my home office, Rory’s room, and the bathrooms. And don’t even get me started on the basement. We have glass block windows down there and some of them are cracked. Eek! We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! For now, I’m just so happy to have the new windows here in our living room and baby boy’s nursery!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.