Whether you are replacing your old windows or building a new home with new windows, there are many options to choose from. However, before you begin to choose, it is best to have a professional come out and measure. This will ensure that your windows are the right size and are therefore easy to install and as energy efficient as possible. In addition, before you pick out your custom windows, you need to find out what the current building codes are for your area as these will affect the choices that are available to you. For example, if you live in an area that is susceptible to hurricanes, you may be required to purchase windows with impact resistant glass.
One of the decisions that you will have to make is whether or not to replace the frame and if the frame does need to be replaced whether to replace it with wood, vinyl or aluminum. Wood is the most expensive. However, it also has the most choices when it comes to types, finishes, and hardware. You can choose from pine, oak, or maple, just to name a few and then you have to decide if you want it stained or painted.
Vinyl is the least expensive. However, it is usually white and there is little difference between vinyl and wood when it comes to casement windows. Unlike vinyl, fiberglass can be painted. However, since it is relatively new there are not many choices available. The same is true of aluminum. There are not many choices as popularity has decreased.
Another choice you have to make when it comes to selecting custom windows is if and how they will open. Double hung is the most popular. The top slides down and the bottom slides up. They are easy to clean and if you are using a window air conditioner, double hung window windows are your best bet. In addition, they are good at keeping out cold air and water. They also provide excellent ventilation. A less expensive option in custom windows is single hung windows. They look like double hung, but the top does not open.
Casement windows allow for an unobstructed view and good insulation and ventilation. They will not hold air conditioners like single and double hung windows. Neither awning style, nor hopper style windows will hold air conditioners, either. However, you can keep an awning style window open in the rain.
Another decision you have to make when selecting custom windows is whether or not to have a Low-E coating placed on them. Low-e makes the windows deflect heat when placed on the outside of the window in warmer climates and keeps heat in when placed on the inside of the window in cooler climates. However, it may reduce visibility.
Be aware that custom windows usually take longer to make than standard windows and are usually more expensive. This is due to the fact that they are not mass produced and the machines have to be changed to your specifications before they can be made.