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What to Know About Replacing Windows in Your Home

January 29, 2019 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What to Know About Replacing Windows in Your Home

As a homeowner, home window repair is a fact of life. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice—perhaps because of storm damage. Other times, you might replace the windows as part of a remodel to change the aesthetics of a space, or to reduce energy costs.

Sometimes, you’ll need to decide between window repair and replacement. Then, you’ll need to select options in materials and glass. When talking to an expert about repairing or replacing windows, you may hear new lingo. The person will likely want to discuss the window frame, as well as the following:

•  Sill: That’s the strip running horizontally across the frame’s bottom.

•  Jamb: Those are the sides of the frame, running vertically.

•  Head: That’s the strip running horizontally across the frame’s bottom.

•  Sash: Some windows have one or more panels that move; the material that forms the frame that

•  holds these individual panes is the sash.

•  Stiles: These are sections of the sash that run vertically.

•  Rails: These are sections of the sash that run horizontally.

Here’s what you need to know about window replacements, cost considerations, and tips for financing the project.

Repairing vs Replacing Windows

If you’re having issues with your windows, you may be wondering whether or not you actually need to replace the window. Here are a few things to consider when trying to decide if you are going to fully replace windows or simply do a few small repairs to make sure they are still functional.

First, if you have one or more windows with cracked or otherwise broken glass, but frames are still solid—and you’re satisfied with how they look—it probably makes sense to just replace the glass with a quality product.

If you have double-pane windows, ones where two panes of glass are separated by a space (gas- or vacuum-sealed) to reduce heat transfer and increase efficiency, know that the seals can also break. You can tell if seals are broken with this simple test: If the window fogs up, you should be able to wipe the condensation off of the window, either from the inside or outside.

If you can’t, the seal is most likely compromised. If this happens, it’s highly unlikely you can simply replace the glass. But, if the frames are solid, you could still replace the panes, sashes, and seals. And be aware that if you have triple-paned windows, this seal breakage could happen in even more places.

Do you actually feel air coming in through a window? If so, you can caulk or weather-strip the trouble spots and see if this solves the problem. Are there small spots of wood that are rotting? If so, you can try scraping away rotted areas, then making putty repairs and repainting. Did you fix the problem? If repairs for either issue (air leaks or rotting wood) don’t solve the problem, that window will likely need replaced.

Here’s another issue to consider. Is the window stuck? There are a few different troubleshooting things to try, including looking for broken hardware pieces and replacing them; or scraping away paint, sanding down the area, opening up the window and cleaning the tracks. If one of these solves the problem, great. If not, then you’ll either need to replace them.

Finally, here is a benchmark to consider: Perhaps you fixed the problem, but the window is warped or otherwise damaged. This is a sign of issues to come and, as with most maintenance, being proactive about window replacement usually makes the most sense.

Benefits of Replacing Windows

If you decide that it is time to replace some or all of the windows in your house, you will likely cut your energy costs once the project is completed. According to ENERGY STAR® , windows granted the ENERGY STAR seal of approval can lead to the following annual savings for a typical home:

•  $126 to $465 when replacing single-pane windows

•  $27 to $111 when replacing double-pane windows that are clear glass

When you replace windows, you are also adding to the sales potential of your home, partly thanks to the energy savings. They also add to the curb appeal of the house, because windows are one of the most obvious features of a home as people walk or drive by. If the windows look old or poorly maintained, then potential buyers may conclude that the entire home needs maintenance, which may not be true at all.

And if you’re installing new windows as a way to invest in your home, consider larger ones that let in more natural light. Using daylight to brighten up your home has been found to be beneficial to people, enhancing productivity and improving mood. Natural light can help fine-tune circadian rhythms, which can add to a better sense of well-being.

Types of Window Materials

In general, you’ll need to choose what type of glass you want and what type of frame/sash materials. There are numerous materials you can choose from for your windows, ranging from vinyl to wood, fiberglass to aluminum and more. Vinyl choices are typically the most affordable and are usually low maintenance and durable. They can last a long time, since this material doesn’t peel or fade, chip, or rot.

For a traditional look, you can choose wood. They provide an elegant appearance, but typically come with more maintenance because wood can warp and rot, and paint will eventually chip and peel. Wood is almost always more expensive than vinyl.

Fiberglass is a little more expensive than vinyl, but can offer more durability and provide more energy efficiency. Scratches and nicks are harder to see, which is good; and, because the material doesn’t expand or contract to any significant degree, you seldom have to worry about air leaks.

Aluminum frames and sashes are long lasting and durable, and you can choose from numerous colors and finishes. This material creates a more modern look than wooden ones. And, although this material can be less efficient because the metal conducts heat, you can select ones with thermal breaks to minimize the issue.

You can also choose clad windows that are wooden inside your home, to provide a beautiful appearance, but vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass on the outside where durability is more important. These windows are typically more expensive, but they do provide a versatile approach.

If you’ve got an historic home and you want to return your home to its original integrity, you may need to work with a company that can customize windows for you. The wrong style of window and use of anachronistic materials can significantly mar restoration efforts.

After you’ve selected material for the frame, you’ll have to decide on the type of glass. There are a few different types of glass, and they all have different functions—so do your research or work with a professional to find the best option for your home. Types of window glass include the following:

•  Insulated glass: These windows have at least two panes apiece, hermetically-sealed ones divided by spacers.

•  Heat-absorbing tinted glass: Because these windows can absorb heat from the sun, they can keep your home or business cooler. Plus, they reduce glare.

•  Reflective-coated glass: This can also reduce glare and heat in the home.

•  Gas-filled glass: These are insulated, gas-filled units that provide more insulation than just air. Gases used are usually krypton or argon.

•  Low-emissivity-coated glass: These windows can provide significant savings in energy costs in colder climates.

•  Spectrally-selective-coated glass: These allow in light while filtering out significant amounts of heat.

Window Replacement Cost

Home Advisor provides guidance into typical window replacement costs in 2018. Replacing windows can be an expensive project, but it could ultimately improve the value of your home. While prices vary based on a few factors, like where in the country you live and the size of the windows, these general estimates could give you an idea of what replacing windows might cost you.

•  Single-hung windows: $175 to $350 per window

•  Double-hung windows: $300 to $800 per window

•  Sliding windows: $325 to $1,200 per window

•  Casement windows: $275 to $750 per window

Using a Personal Loan When Installing New Windows

Once you’ve decided how many windows you will replace and what the window replacement cost will be, consider taking out a personal loan to fund the repairs. You can use the SoFi personal loan calculator to determine what a personal loan with SoFi could look like.

At SoFi, you can get a low-rate personal loan with no fees when you’re ready to repair or replace your windows. You can quickly and easily find your rate and complete an application online. Live customer support is available seven days a week, and if you lose your job through no fault of your own, you can apply for Unemployment Protection—we can even assist you in your job search.

Ready to upgrade your windows? See how a personal loan with SoFi can help.


The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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