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Buying Windows in Maryland
After the decision has been made to renovate the windows in your home, there are many more decisions to make. Some may be easy– such as the style of windows. Others, like the types of windows and window frame options, may seem more daunting. This buying guide is here to provide more information about what to expect when you’re renovating your windows, and will explain how to make your home more energy efficient by making smart choices about your new windows.
Maryland Window Contractors
Finding an experienced contractor in Maryland will require some research on your part. Ask friends and co-workers for recommendations if they have recently had their homes worked on. Looking online is another great place to read reviews for contractors in your area. Request several quotes in order to find the contractor you most want to work with. Be honest with your vision for your home and your expectations, so there are no surprises down the road.
After you have decided on a contractor, make sure you read the contract before you sign. Is the scope of the project what you discussed? Do you understand and agree with everything written down? Is anything missing or was anything you didn’t expect added in at the last minute? If anything seems “off” or isn’t what you discussed, bring it up with your contractor. Make any necessary adjustments before you sign. This will prevent future disputes and any disappointment as the renovation gets underway.
Securing a Window Permit in Maryland
Before any work is started on your home, check with your city’s permit and licensing department to see what is needed for window renovations. This is especially important if you live in a historic neighborhood or if your home is on the landmarks list in Baltimore County. Permits are also more than likely needed if you will be changing the size or location of an already existing window. By skipping this step you risk paying a large fine. After you pay the fine you will still have to secure the permit, which will delay the start date for your renovation and you may then run into scheduling conflicts with your contractor and their staff.
Things To Consider When Renovating Windows
Think about the aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve with this window renovation or new window addition to your home. Are you looking to increase your home’s energy efficiency? Will you want to open all of the windows in your home? Are you looking to winterize your home to lower energy bills during Maryland’s cold winters?
Window frames are not often given a lot of thought when deciding to upgrade or change a window’s look. However, there are multiple options for window frames that will suit your home and your needs.
- Wood– provides a classic look and fair insulation. However, wooden frames require more maintenance because they expand and contract depending on the weather. Can be treated with waterproof sealants to minimize warping and moisture damage.
- Composite– window frames are made up of a material that blends composite wood products. These typically have longer lifespans than regular frames made of wood because they holds up better against moisture.
- Aluminum– is a popular choice because it is lightweight and durable. It doesn’t need a lot of maintenance and can be shaped to fit a variety of windows easily. However, aluminum frames conduct heat which can increase energy bills during the summer.
- Vinyl– is a frequently used material because it is resistant to moisture, is durable and doesn’t require much maintenance. You don’t need to paint them, even when chipped, because they are the same color throughout. Insulation can be added inside the frame to increase energy efficiency.
- Fiberglass– is even harder to damage. It does not expand or contract much with weather temperatures, which gives you a tighter seal between the window itself and the frame. Insulation can also be added to pockets within the fiberglass window frame.
Again, if you live in a historic neighborhood, there may be limitations or requirements about the type of window frame you can choose. If that is the case, your contractor will be able to suggest ways to increase the energy efficiency of the options available to you.
Preparing Your Maryland Home For Window Renovation
Something else to consider when renovating your windows is the time it will take to prepare your home for renovation. Most people underestimate the time it takes to get the window and surrounding area ready to be renovated, delaying construction. The majority of Maryland homeowners will need to do some prep work before work can be done on their windows. Spend some time before work starts, or build it into your project timeline, to ensure you don’t start your renovation project behind.
- Remove any shutters, security bars, or grates on the outside of your windows.
- Take down curtains, any sort of window shade or blinds and hardware such as brackets or curtain rods. Remove any window valences as well.
- Take down and move any picture frames, art or decorations that are near the window.
- Roll up any floor coverings such as carpets and throw rugs, and move them to a different area of your home. Consider moving smaller pieces of furniture as well- to protect it from dust and drywall.
- If any furniture is staying in the room, cover it with drop cloths to keep them as dust-free as possible.
- Keep pets away from the contractors for everyone’s safety.
Maryland Window Ratings
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) created a rating system to help consumers understand the energy performance of different windows. This in turn allows you to choose the best windows for your needs. Being in Maryland, with mild summers and colder winters, the U-Factor and Air Leakage measurements are important to take into consideration.
- U-Factor- This measures the indoor heat that is able to escape from the house. This means that the lower U-Factor number, the warmer the home remains during the colder winter months.
- Visible Transmittance (VT)– This measures how much natural light will be let into the house. If the number is higher, you can expect more natural light to come into your home.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)– SHGC measures the amount of outside heat that can enter your home through the windows. A lower number means your home will have better protection against outdoor heat gain.
- Air Leakage- This measures how much outside air can potentially enter your home. Low ratings, or numbers, mean there is a low chance your windows will be drafty.
Window Styles For Maryland Homes
Windows come in a wide variety of styles, which means you can find the perfect one for your home. Most common are single hung and double hung window, which open vertically bottom to top (both single and double hung) or top to bottom (double only). Having these placed throughout the house allows for a cross breeze during nice days, negating the need to run your air conditioning or window units.
If you’re looking for a larger windows, bay windows, casement windows, and picture windows are generally good options. Bay windows project outward from your home and can be comprised of any combination of casement windows, single hung windows, or picture windows. Casement windows are different in that they open away from the house and are attached to the window frame by hinges. They also have the option of being opened by a crank instead. Picture windows cannot be opened at all but offer an unobstructed view of the scenery outside your home.