Last Updated on October 27, 2020
Windows take a lot of weather abuse, and their material makes a significant difference in durability and performance.
Wood windows generally require repainting and re-glazing every 2-3 years, which can be a drag on a homeowner’s time and patience—or their wallet if they hire a painter.
Although painted aluminum windows can pit, they don’t generally have the same maintenance problems as wood. However, aluminum windows are notorious for poor thermal performance. Much like radiators, they conduct unwanted heat from the outside into the room. In the winter, aluminum transfers cold in the same way. This heat transfer creates condensation and related problems. Many modern aluminum windows now utilize “thermal breaks” to address the condensation issue and increase energy efficiency. These “breaks” are made of vinyl.
Vinyl replacement windows are a top choice for home remodeling because vinyl is itself a thermal break, minimizing heat transfer from the outside the home to the inside. Vinyl windows look great, are energy efficient, and require very little maintenance. There’s also no need to repaint or restain vinyl windows since they are the same color throughout.
However, before placing an order for a replacement window, the first critical step is to determine the right measurement for the new window.
Take 3 horizontal measurements of the window frame for the rough opening width.
- Measure the distance horizontally across your frame at the top, at the middle, and at the bottom from each side jamb.
- Circle the smallest measurement of the three figures.
- The smallest measurement is your rough opening width, the main measurement to reference when purchasing a replacement window.
* Tip: Always list window measurements with width before height.
Take 3 vertical measurements of the window frame for the rough opening height.
- Measure the distance vertically across your frame from top to bottom on the left, middle, and right side of the window from the head jamb to the window sill.
- Circle the smallest measurement of the three figures, this is your rough opening height.
* Tip: If your window sill is sloped, measure from the highest point of the window sill, which is usually right against your window.
Measure the depth of the window’s opening.
- Finding the correct depth is important because some windows will be too deep to fit into a replacement window opening.
- Run a tape measure from the outside of the frame to the inside and take the measurement from edge to edge of the window frame.
- Do this in several locations around the window frame and rely on the smallest measurement once again as your final dimension.
* Tip: If you can’t open your window, measure the depth on each side of the glass and add them together. Then add the thickness of your window glass pane. A single window glass pane is usually 1/8″ or 3mm in thickness.
It’s vital that you get your window measurements exactly right. Otherwise, your home will be subject to drafts, which will increase your energy bills, expose you to the elements, and reduce your comfort at home. Now that you have the measurements, you can use them to purchase windows that will fit into the space available. The windows should be approximately two inches narrower and two inches shorter than the measured space. This leaves an inch of space around each side of the window for positioning and adjusting the window to fit exactly where you want it. Use the depth measurement to ensure that your windows won’t be sticking out of the frame opening—the windows don’t have to be much smaller than the depth.
Of course, you don’t have to measure these yourself. You can contact an expert to have someone come out to measure your windows and discuss the best options for you to help make an informed decision on your window purchase and installation.