In this article, we'll take a look at the hottest trends in windows and exterior doors today. We'll review design trends as well as the most energy efficient options available. In addition, we'll give you a few pointers for finding the best professional to help you install your new windows and doors properly.
In addition to adding visual appeal and beauty to your home, windows and exterior doors play a very important role in energy efficiency. Some of the most common spots for air leaks are around windows and doors. They can also allow air to escape (and come in) via poor construction or glass that isn't thick enough.
Decoration and Design
Windows and doors can add or detract a great deal from the overall appearance of your home. After all, a beautiful home with sagging, flaking, cracked windows isn't really a beautiful home. Just as accessories can make or break an outfit, windows and doors can make or break the visual impact of your house.
The trim which surrounds windows and doors are not technically part of the fixtures themselves, but they do have a large visual impact. These areas are a great way to personalize your home, particularly if you live in an area with many similar-looking houses. Some homeowners prefer a harmonious color scheme, while others enjoy the striking appearance of contrasting trim colors. Follow your instincts when it comes to this kind of customized personalization.
The design of windows and doors generally depends on the overall structure of your home. A traditional Victorian, for example, looks the most authentic when outfitted with period-appropriate windows. A modern home, on the other hand, visually benefits from sleeker lines.
When it comes to energy efficiency, the good news is that any style of window can be found (or custom-ordered) to meet your tastes and needs. Even the most elaborate, ornate window or door can be created to meet all the latest energy-efficiency guidelines. While custom windows and doors are pricier than standard-size units, they will eventually pay for themselves in saved heating and cooling costs.
When it comes to trends, two major things are happening in the industry. Bowed and bay windows are on their way out, while wide-opening doors are gaining momentum with consumers.
It's important to remember that there's nothing inherently wrong with bowed or bay windows. On the right home, they can be truly beautiful, and many offer cozy nooks for reading and relaxing. However, due to their massive popularity in the past few decades, it appears that this trend is simply dying out naturally. If you truly love the look, however, don't hesitate to install a bay window. The most trend-savvy homeowners realize that following your instincts is the basis of true style. Bay windows can be customized to meet all energy efficiency requirements, just like any other style of window.
Wide-opening doors and windows are gaining popularity for many reasons. While the overall sizes of new homes have been statistically shrinking for years, the quality and luxury going into these new homes has been on the rise. Homeowners are realizing that by cutting back on space and investing money in smaller luxuries, they can get much more enjoyment out of their home.
Windows and doors that are wider than the industry standard are part of this trend. Wide windows and doors serve several purposes. The visual impact is the most obvious - this trend is an impressive statement which draws attention to your home. In addition to adding beauty, these windows and doors have an energy-efficient side as well. As long as they are properly sealed and made of the best materials, they won't let out any more air than a traditionally sized window. During warmer months, however, they can function as a wonderful natural cooling system for your home. Simply by opening up these taller and wider windows, you can naturally cool your home for free, instead of spending money on a central cooling system. Not only does this save you money and reduce your impact on the environment, but there's something undeniably charming about a house cooled by summer breezes!
Thanks to the green movement, windows and exterior doors are now available with energy efficient appointments that were virtually unheard of only a few years ago. These units block a great deal of energy loss. They accomplish this in several different ways.
Double paned glass is one of the most common energy efficient window upgrades available. These windows feature two panes of glass, between which is a layer of air or gas fill. This buffer layer blocks heated (or cooled) interior air from seeping out and it also prevents chilly outdoor air from entering. Look for windows with double panes to maximize your energy savings.
The biggest culprits when it comes to energy loss are usually found around the edges of windows and doors. Whether they're due to poor installation, age or inadequate materials, these cracks account for more wasted energy than nearly any other spot in your home.
If you're installing new windows, you're at an advantage. Installation accounts for many cases of energy loss, and selecting qualified professionals to do the job can help ensure a quality installation. Let your contractor or handyman know that you're concerned with energy loss, and ask them about extra steps you can take to make your windows and doors as air-tight as possible.
Areas where the window meets the casing are the most obvious potential areas for energy loss. A properly installed window will fit snugly, the sash and sill will not show any obvious gaps and weather-stripping will be applied to seal out as much air as possible.
The same basic principles apply to door installation. Your door frame shouldn't show visible gaps between the frame and the wall. Once the door is hung, there should not be any visible gaps between the door and the frame. If you see gaps, let your contractor know immediately. Most will fix the problem right away. If you notice these gaps after installation, check with your contractor anyway...many will come back to set the issue right, rather than risk having you file a complaint or write a bad online review.
If you've noticed these gaps after the warranty has expired on your installation, there are still steps you can take to cut down on energy loss. Weather-stripping is a relatively simple DIY project, with kits available at all major home-improvement stores. You can also hire a handyman to do the job for you.
The materials your door is made out of also play a role in energy efficiency. Hollow doors should never be used on the exterior of your home; they are extremely inefficient and are intended for interior use only.
When it comes to materials, you have three major choices: wood, steel and fiberglass. It's important to remember that all three materials are available in a wide range of quality, price and value. They can all be insulated to meet energy efficiency codes. Look to your homes aesthetics and your climate to determine the best door for your home.
Wood doors come in solid-core and solid wood varieties. Solid-core doors feature thin sheets of laminate on either side, with a core of hard compressed wood. In some climates, the laminate can crack, peel and bubble, especially if moisture, extreme heat or cold are present. Solid wood doors, while the most expensive options on the market, are truly superior when it comes to durability. When purchased from a reputable dealer, a solid wood door can be counted on to last and last. An added bonus is versatility...unlike a laminated door, a solid wood door can be repainted, stained, or otherwise altered to match any exterior decorating you do in years to come.
Steel doors come in different gauges. Gauge refers to thickness. The higher the gauge, the thinner the steel. 24-gauge doors are cheap, but they are quick to dent, scratch and rust. 22-gauge doors are a better bet for lasting durability. Be sure to touch up any paint chips or scratches to avoid rusting. Steel doors can be used in climates which experience a great deal of snow, rain or other moisture, but they need more frequent maintenance.
Fiberglass doors are relative newcomers to the market, but they are quickly becoming trendy consumer favorites. Energy efficient, relatively inexpensive and available in a wide array of colors and finishes, fiberglass is lightweight and extremely durable. Keep in mind that with any door, you get what you pay for. Fiberglass is durable, but a cheap fiberglass door is still prone to cracking in severe climates. Fiberglass can be found in finishes that perfectly mimic wood-grain, but keep in mind that this color and grain can't be changed if you alter the dècor of your home.
DIY or Professional?
In nearly every case, hanging doors and windows is a job for professionals. Given the amount of energy that can be lost to a poor installation, it makes good financial sense to leave the job to those who know exactly what they're doing.
When searching for a contractor online, check past references and experience. A handyman is also a great choice for window and door installation, provided they have experience in the area. Talk through your energy concerns and any other particulars before work begins, to avoid costly delays.Posted by: Diane