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Buying Windows in Massachusetts
Once you’ve made the decision to replace or renovate your home’s windows, there are several more decisions to make. You have choices about the contractor you use, the style of window, and the type of frame you want. This buying guide will help you determine what is best for your home- and will explain the window ratings you will hear about, describe some energy efficient window options, as well as the importance of window frames. These options are available for residential and commercial windows in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Window Ratings
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has a rating system for windows, which can be found on stickers on the new windows you purchase. With the new technologies available, it is possible to find plenty of energy efficient options to fit your budget and aesthetic of your home.
- U-Factor- This measures the indoor heat that can escape from the house. This is especially important for Massachusetts residents as the lower the U-Factor number, the warmer the home remains during the winter months.
- Visible Transmittance (VT)- This measures how much natural light will be let into the house. Higher numbers mean more natural light comes into the home.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)- SHGC measures how much heat from the outside can enter your home through the windows. The lower the number here, the better protection your home will have against outdoor heat gain. This is especially important to consider during summer months and for south-facing windows.
- Air Leakage- This measures how much outside air can enter your home. The lower the rating, the lower the chance the windows will have a draft.
Window Renovation Permits in Massachusetts
Before any construction starts on your home, whether renovating or replacing your windows, check with your city for information about permits. Especially if your home is in a wind borne debris region, as permitting may be different for those areas. The Massachusetts government website has window permit information to help answer your questions. As easy as it is to jump into construction, this is not a step you want to skip. The potential fines and time wasted by not securing the proper permit will put you out of money and way off-schedule.
Finding A Window Contractor in Massachusetts
A licensed window contractor can ensure that the window renovation project goes smoothly. Look to online reviews and talk to your friends to find reputable contractors in your area. If your home is a historic home, make sure your contractor has worked with other historic buildings and understands the extra requirements.
Before you sign the contract, make sure you read over it. Does it include information you don’t understand or was not discussed? Bring these points up with your contractor before construction begins, and especially before you sign it! If anything is not on there that you wish to add, again make sure that is done before signing the document.
Window Styles For Your Massachusetts Home
Windows are a defining feature of your home. They can update a more traditional style to a contemporary aesthetic and add character to an otherwise mundane house. When you renovate your existing windows, it adds value to your home and gives new life to your house.
- Bay windows project outward from the house. They can be comprised of picture windows, casement windows or single hung windows.
- Casement windows are attached to the window frame by hinges and open outward, similar to french doors. Casement windows can also be opened by a crank.
- Double hung windows open vertically. These give you the option of opening top to bottom or bottom to top, like a single hung window.
- Single hung windows also open vertically, however they will only open bottom to top.
- Picture windows offer an unbroken view of the scenery and cannot be opened. These are considered to be very energy efficient.
When choosing your windows, it’s best to start with double pane windows. Double pane windows are the starting point in terms of increasing your home’s energy efficiency. Triple pane windows increase that level. From there, you have the option of adding window films for privacy and increased UV protection. Work with your contractor to decided upon the best window glass for your home and your needs. There are multiple options that can stand up to the extreme Massachusetts winters
Certain historic homes in Massachusetts have antique glass in their windows, which is sometimes known as restoration glass. The wavy glass is most commonly used in windows and comes in a variety of processing options. This will help keep the character of your home and can add authenticity to period-specific houses.Make sure you communicate with your contractor if you’re looking to restore or replace windows with antique glass.
Massachusetts Window Frame Options
- Wood– using wood for window frames provides a classic look and fairly good insulation. It can be treated with a weather-resistant paint or glaze. Wooden frames require more maintenance because they expand and contract depending on the weather.
- Composite– is a material that blends composite wood products to create the window frame. It typically has a longer lifespan than regular frames made of wood because it holds up better against moisture.
- Aluminum– is a very light and strong material used for window frames. It doesn’t need a lot of maintenance and can be shaped to fit a variety of windows easily. However, this conducts heat which can increase energy bills during the summer.
- Vinyl– is a frequently used material because it is resistant to moisture, is very low maintenance and is durable. Because the material is the same color throughout, you don’t need to paint them. Insulation can be added to better protect your home against extreme temperatures.
- Fiberglass– is stronger than vinyl. It does not expand or contract with weather temperatures, much like glass, which gives you a tighter seal. It is a low maintenance and energy efficient option.
Choosing Windows For Basement and Attics
If you have a finished basement, attic, or both, chances are you count on windows for some natural lighting or extra ventilation. It is possible to increase your home’s energy efficiency by insulating the attic and basement windows. Make sure you choose a glass with a high level of insulation, such as triple pane glass and add insulation to your window frame- preferably a frame that creates the tightest seal with the glass. Experienced Massachusetts contractors will be able to help you decide upon the best option for your home.
Before Renovation Begins
Remember to prepare your home and the areas surrounding the windows being renovated. Too often, that work is left to the last minute and the project is delayed.
- Remove any window coverings and hardware such as curtains, curtain rods, and window blinds. If you have shutters on the outside of your windows, those must be removed as well.
- Take down picture frames and art around the window and move it to a secure place in your home.
- Roll up and move any carpets or floor coverings to another area of the house.
- Cover any furniture in the room, as window renovation can be a very dusty business.
- If you have indoor animals, make sure they are kept out of the areas being renovated. This is for the safety of your pet, the workers, and the contractor.
- Consider moving anything off the shelves that may get bumped and broken during the renovation process. While not expected, sometimes accidents happen. If you can’t live without it, move it to another part of your house.