Replacing or capping windows is not as simple a decision as it might seem. Windows have all sorts of features that present homeowners with a multitude of considerations to face and decisions to make. Deciding whether to replace windows or cap them with aluminum is one that often comes up. In particular, owners of older homes with wood window frames are faced with the replace-or-cap dilemma. Weigh the pros and cons of each option before you sign on the dotted line.
A replacement window is installed when you want to change some or all of the components of the window assembly. This can include a change in the type of glass, converting from single panes to double or triple panes, and choosing a different type of window balance mechanism. The balance is the term used to describe how the window opens or closes. For example, some older wood window assemblies have pulleys inside the frame that lift and lower the window, while most new window systems have coil spring mechanisms.
Aluminum capping is an alternative to replacing windows. It is often used by homeowners who want the look of real wood window frames on the inside, but want to reduce the upkeep and maintenance of real wood frames on the outside. Homeowners use this option when wooden frames chip or deteriorate on the exterior of the home. The outside frame is clad or “capped” with aluminum strips on top of the existing wood. The aluminum is pre-painted by the manufacturer, and you can choose a color that matches the exterior color scheme of the home.
Replacing windows enables you to do a total window makeover, including everything from the glass to the window sash. Aluminum capping gives you the option of sticking with the look of wood on the inside and the protection of aluminum on the outside. With aluminum capping, you do not have to replace the window glass or the window balance mechanisms used to open and close the window. Selecting the color, size and shape of the capping are the biggest decisions you have to make. Aluminum capping is also less expensive because you are only adding a cladding material instead of an entire window assembly.
If you live in a cold climate and you still have single-pane windows, it might be time to consider replacement windows. By upgrading to double-pane windows, you can increase the thermal efficiency of your windows. Double-pane windows reduce the amount of cold air that can penetrate from the outdoors into your home during winter, and reduce the amount of warm air that gets inside your home during the summer. As a result, your home will be more energy efficient and you can lower your utility bills for heating and air conditioning. On the other hand, if your needs are more cosmetic, in terms of peeling window frames and sashes, aluminum capping may be all you need. Get estimates on both options from three or more companies. Take your time, and do not let any salesperson pressure you into a decision. Be sure to get references of people that you can call before you sign any contract to purchase window replacements or aluminum capping for your home.
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