Custom Window Systems
While windows seem to be one of those things that you could almost hire anyone to do, there are really some key factors to consider when purchasing and installing replacement window systems, or new construction windows for your addition or new construction living space. All windows are not created equal and cutting corners here could be the difference in functionality for years to come. There are several different components of the window itself, and window system installations that really separate the good from the others.
By far, Regal Roofing & Siding were the most thorough, down-to-earth & knowledgeable contractors we met. That's why we chose them. We are "particular" by nature & more than likely we drove them a little nuts with all of our repetitive questions & budget mongering. 😉 ... It was easy for us to put our trust in them because they were forthright & transparent from the beginning. We absolutely adore our forever home. Thank you Regal ... Highly recommend!
Choosing the Right Windows
For starters, when choosing vinyl windows, not all vinyl is created equally. Some vinyl windows are created using recycled vinyl components which makes the material weaker because it’s been heated to melt down and then heated to reform the window frame (or extrusions). The best vinyl windows are made with actual new vinyl competes to strengthen the frames and reduce the opportunity for weaknesses or failures later.
The next thing to consider is the structure of the window extrusions themselves. Just like corrugated cardboard is made with ridges between the pieces of cardboard for strength, the more angles and corrugations within the window extrusions, the stronger the windows are and the less likely they are to warp over time as they expand and contract. This is important especially for larger windows which could allow the window sash (the moving part of the window) to slide out of place if the window cannot support the weight of the sash well.
Glass Performance Criteria
"The NFRC is a non-profit organization that establishes objective window, for and skylight energy performance ratings to help you compare products and make informed purchase decisions.” Taken straight from their website nfrc.org. There are different U factor coefficients that make up the energy ratings for your windows - or how much heat is lost through the window. Many localities now regulate what the minimums are here and require a permit for the installation.
This is actually a good thing because it will prevent some companies from being able to take advantage of any naiveties you may have about this process - which by the way, you should always call your city or county building department before contracting with anyone who tells you your project won’t need a permit because almost anything you do these days requires some sort of inspection. But it is always a good idea whenever you are considering your options to do more than the minimum if you can. A good chunk of heat loss from homes goes right out the window - literally!
One other thing to consider on the window itself is name brand. We all recognize names like Anderson or Pella but we don’t necessarily know that sometimes these companies have subsidiary companies that make their products like American Craftsman. So there are instances that name brand actual doesn’t matter, especially in vinyl windows and patio doors. Anderson windows are great to have and you are pretty much guaranteed to get a quality product, but their best products are wood or high end designer windows and doors.
You can get a good quality product for a much better price by not buying the highest name in windows, unless the application will match. The experts at Regal Roofing & Siding are very knowledgeable in this area and can help you choose the best quality products for your specific application.
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New Construction Window Installation
Regarding installation, just like roofing or siding, the preparation and underlayments are very important. Window systems are made to integrate into your siding or sheathing systems pretty easily but cutting corners is something that can be easily achieved if you don’t know what you’re looking for. And you can still get a very aesthetic finished product - that will leak terribly. New construction windows should be installed with the house wrap turned into the rough framed window opening and window flashing tape at least on the bottom and turned up each side 4-6”. This creates a protective barrier for the window to integrate into the siding system from the beginning and stops many chances of leaking from an exterior source.
We then use a high quality exterior caulking around the perimeter of the house wrap just outside of the turn into the rough framed window opening so that the nail flange will be embedded in the caulk when it’s nailed in, forming a second barrier of defense. Then, the window flange itself should be taped with a house wrap tape or even with a self adhering flashing tape similar to the tape used in the framed opening itself. Start on the bottom, then up the sides and over the top flange last to make sure you have the shingling effect in place to help water flow down hill. If you’re using a good window with good welded joints, water should never be an issue! This window typically also has a “pre-J” channel on the perimeter of the window so the siding system can slide right into it without additional components like the vinyl J channel which would then need to depend on caulk to create a water tight system.
When installing a retrofit or replacement window, the old window comes out of it’s opening and a new window goes in. Typically with a wooden window, this is pretty easy to do without damaging anything around it but removing the exterior stops and simply letting the window fall to the exterior. But with old aluminum windows it is a bit more complicated. Depending on the exterior cladding (siding, brick, etc) you may not want to or even sometimes be able to access the nail flange of the window. So in this case, the flange must be cut using a grinder or a sawzall. Then you have an opening that a replacement window can slide right into, just like having removed the wooden windows. If you do decide to remove the siding then you have the option to install a new construction window with a flange again, but most of the time it’s easier and more efficient for the installer AND the client to install a replacement window.
As mentioned previously, with a new construction window that was originally installed, the window flange would be behind the exterior cladding so the first step would be to fabricate a piece of aluminum trim coil that’s shaped like an L to tuck behind the siding and into the rough framed opening so that the window has something to fasten to and the siding system and window system can be integrated together again with a fresh bead of high level exterior caulking and the system is water tight. But as is the case with the majority of wooden window systems, there is a brick molding trim that separates either the brick or siding system from the window itself. In this instance we would install the replacement window in the opening itself and then custom fabricate on site the specific trim coil pieces we need to cover the sill and exterior trim adjacent the window. Again, a fresh bead of high level exterior caulk is applied from the metal to the exterior cladding and from the window to the metal giving a clean and seamless finish. All of our corners are mitered and the metal is fabricated using our premium roll formers for a brick molding effect that cannot be replicated by hand.
All of our raw edges are fabricated using a hemlock, which folds the raw edge behind the exposed metal, giving a clean edge which is not raw metal so it cannot cut your hand or snag your clothing in the case of door jambs and it also adds a fair amount of rigidity to eliminate the “oil can” effect of thin gauge metal rolling and warping. Always before the metal wrap is installed in these applications, insulation is used between the metal and the framed opening to seal any air drafts to increase your energy efficiency, just as we do from the inside of a new construction window.
Clean Up & Finish
To finish up the system we always wipe down our metal and windows to make sure hand prints and pencil marks are gone, we clean up and haul away all work related debris. We take care to look after your yard and anywhere we may walk inside your home. It’s important to us to make an impression that lasts a lifetime and while the products may speak for themselves, the installation and professionalism do so just as much or more. So let us at Regal Roofing & Siding offer a proposal and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. We look forward to working with you soon!