The simple answer is that custom windows can add a lot to your home, but the trick is deciding what you want to add. Visual appeal, energy-efficiency, and varying degrees of light and sound filtration are possible, but you can’t have it all. Why not? Well, a large, multi-sided bay window may be the perfect solution for your breakfast nook, but the extra surface area of the glass is likely to reduce insulating quality, no matter how energy-efficient the glass. That said, here are some of the most popular ways in which homeowners customize their windows and how these choices benefit your home.
This is probably the most common need for customization. You might need to replace windows in an older home built before modern day standards were established, for a unique opening, or to install a custom-made stained glass window. Custom-made glass patio doors can be made to fit most any opening. Large windows for open walls and striking views are popular for log homes and homes built on hillsides.
Window Frame: Wood, Aluminum, Vinyl, Fiberglass
These are only the most common frames. Window frames can be made from almost any material with varying results. Composites made from different percentages of wood, vinyl, plastic, and other materials are another viable option. Although wood is the most popular material for windows, vinyl’s flexibility makes it a good material for custom window designs.
Energy-Efficiency: Multi-Pane Windows
Just how energy-efficient do you need your windows to be? Most people know the upgrade from single-pane to double-pane windows makes a huge difference. Triple-pane windows are even more efficient but harder to justify in terms of recouping costs. Quadruple-paned windows aren’t cost-effective by any economic standard, but some homeowners are more concerned with eco-friendly improvements without regard for the bottom line. Increasingly complicated gas-fills and other features will make your windows even more efficient.
Light and Sound Filtration
You might want a dimly lit room or a soundproof room. You might want to be able to adjust these levels as needed. Custom windows are able to do almost anything you ask of them, if you’re willing to pay for it. Soundproof glass comes in many degrees. True, “soundproof” glass is a myth, although top-of-the-line models will muffle enough sound that it would take a jet engine to perceive sound coming from the room. For light infiltration, some windows will allow you to control the natural light that enters the room with the touch of a button.
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The Cost and Time Associated with Custom Windows
Not every custom concern is created equal. You might think one of your choices requires a truly one-of-a-kind window, when there is already a manufacturer out there who produces a suitable replacement window. The average cost of a standard replacement window is $639 and takes about 3 days to complete. Custom windows are liable to cost 2-4 times more, although you should remember that some “custom” windows aren’t really that customized. These windows will also take a lot longer to install because they must be special-ordered, need extra work to install them, or both. Sometimes you’ll need just an extra day or two, sometimes several weeks.
Of course, with all the options available to you, the only way to get a legitimate estimate is to talk to window contractors. Going to a contractor with specific custom needs requires you find the best local contractor out there. As much as you may know what you want, it may not be a realistic possibility due to technological limitations on the part of manufacturers or your own financial limitations. In these cases, the best, most experienced contractors are invaluable for their ability to problem-solve and found a reasonable compromise for your needs.