Are you planning any home projects this autumn? It’s a popular season for renovation projects, with summer holidays out of the way, kids back at school, and weather that’s still mild – well, usually!
We’re about to start a major kitchen renovation, and I’m really excited to get cracking because it will make such a difference to how efficiently we use our living space. As well as some structural work, a new fitted kitchen and new flooring, I want to replace the tired old kitchen window with something more suited to the look we’re going for.
Replacing windows is something we’ve never done before, so I’ve been doing a bit of research. There are plenty of options out there, and lots of things to consider before making a choice. So, if you’re thinking of replacing windows in your home too, here’s what I’ve learned.
Replace, or repair?
It’s worth checking whether your existing windows are worth repairing, rather than going for a full replacement. Things like cracked panes, damaged casements, stiff hinges and minor draughts can all be repaired relatively easily. There are some useful guides to basic repairs here.
Larger-scale faults aren’t so easy to repair. If you’re dealing with large amounts of rotten wood, condensation, mould or major draughts, it’s probably time to look at replacing the window.
Think about the practicalities
Before you even start looking at options for replacing windows, it’s a good idea to have a think about the practicalities of the room in question. For example, is there a lot of noise from outside, is it a cold or warm room, is there regularly lots of moisture present (e.g. in a bathroom), do you need to keep children safe, are you keen on maximising efficiency?
Making a wish list of features right at the start will really help you focus your search on products that will do the job well.
What type of window?
Here’s a quick guide to the different types of window available, to help you de-mystify the huge range of products on offer.
Plastic windows are more commonly known as PVCu. They’re a low-cost, low-maintenance option, and can offer really good energy efficiency. Designs and styles have come a long way in recent years, and you can now find PVCu windows that look very similar to original windows for period homes, as well as some really smart, modern styles for a contemporary look. Recycled plastic is being used more and more by manufacturers, but if you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly option, PVCu probably won’t be your first choice.
Softwood windows are a low-cost wooden option. They give you lots of flexibility in terms of the finished look, as they can be stained or painted to suit your home’s style. Softwood needs looking after, and you’ll have to re-paint it every few years, so if you’re looking for low-maintenance you might want to consider other options.
Hardwood windows are more durable than softwood, and therefore have a longer lifespan. Hardwood is usually stained rather than painted, so if it’s colour you’re after then hardwood isn’t your best option. Harwood windows are considerably more expensive than softwood; think of them as an investment rather than a short-term solution. They require regular maintenance too.
Metal windows are usually made of steel or aluminium, and look great in period properties and contemporary homes. Being made of metal, they’re not as efficient heat-wise as other types of window, but they’re really low-maintenance and tend to look nicer than PVCu.
Composite windows were traditionally used in extreme climates, but are growing in popularity due to their performance. They combine timber windows with weather-proof aluminium cladding, and as you can imagine, this delivers a wood-effect look without the associated maintenance. Composite windows aren’t cheap, but like hardwood they offer a long-term solution, plus good energy efficiency.
Set a budget
An obvious one, but still worth saying! Costs can quickly escalate on renovation projects like this, so try to set a realistic budget at the start, and aim to stick within it. I always add on a little bit for unexpected costs too. Doing this means that if something goes wrong, I don’t have to find the extra money quickly, and if it doesn’t, I’ve got some cash spare for the next project!
Get more than one quote
Once you’ve narrowed down the type of windows you’re looking for, set your budget, and outlined the features you need, it’s time to get quotes from suppliers.
It’s always a good idea to compare quotes from a few different companies; as well as potentially saving you some money, it can also help you understand who is offering the services you need. For example, you may need some design help, or be interested in a maintenance service after fitting.
There’s a bewildering array of window suppliers out there, and it can be really time-consuming to find and contact lots of companies. An easy way to take the hassle out of the process is to use a comparison site that allows you to compare window quotes in your area by completing a single quote request.
Prep the space
Once you’ve chosen your supplier and booked your installation date, there are a few things you can do to help the work go smoothly. Clear the space around the window, so that workmen can easily access it without damaging furniture and belongings. Your window fitters will probably arrive armed with sheets to cover carpets and soft furnishings, but you might want to make your own arrangements for this instead. And it sounds really obvious, but don’t forget to take down any blinds and curtains. It’s also a good idea to keep pets and children well out of the way while the work is being done, so maybe try to arrange some play dates for the kids or an extra-long walk for the dog!
If you’re replacing windows I hope these tips make it easier for you to find the best option for your home. And if you’ve got any tips to add do share them in the comments – I haven’t made my final choice yet!
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