Frequently Asked Questions about Windows

Over 10-20 years, general wear and tear takes a toll on even the highest-quality windows. Additionally, many homes in the Seattle region are built on soft soil, which can lead to foundation settling issues. The same stresses that damage walls and ceilings can also place tremendous pressure on your windows.

If your window is foggy, damp with condensation, drafty, or difficult to operate because of damage, you should consider replacing either the insulated glass units (IGUs) or the whole window. Different materials tend to age at different rates, with wood wearing out more swiftly than vinyl or other composite materials. A newly installed window may end up being less costly in the long run than a series of small repairs.

If you have any questions about your options, our expert representatives are happy to help. Just give us a call at 425-322-3663!

Many people are confused between a new window and a replacement window- after all, both involve “new” materials. The difference lies in the construction. A new window includes a nailing flange, a strip of material that is used to nail the window into the rough opening in the wall. A replacement window has no nailing flange, and is designed to fit into an existing frame. Replacements are generally less expensive and easier to install, but are only a viable solution if the existing frame is undamaged.
In a glass-only replacement, a contractor will replace only the damaged sections of glass (IGUs), leaving the existing window frame untouched. This method is the quicker and less-expensive option, but does not address any fundamental issues with the window frame. A window replacement is more involved and costly, but provides the lasting benefits of an energy-efficient new installation.
Modern insulated windows are built by sandwiching a layer of dense nontoxic gas called argon between two panes of glass coated with heat-directing materials. This assembly is then sealed airtight inside the hardware of the frame, creating a window that keeps temperate air inside and high/low temperature air outside. Many windows are also treated with glass coatings that help regulate harsh and damaging ultra-violet light.
Although contemporary windows are extremely durable, water, ice and sunlight tend to deteriorate the insulation surrounding the glass, which can result in seal failure. Insulated windows with a failed seal may have condensation or fog between the glass layers, as well as ultraviolet light beating directly down on the glass sealant. These windows no longer provide their former level of insulation, and may cause further problems to the surrounding area of your home by wicking in moisture.
Balance your desire for a uniform home appearance with your budget. Even if you try for a close match, new windows will probably look a bit different from the old. And even the glass itself usually looks somewhat different from clear glass when using modern energy-efficient coated glass.
Taking this into account, replacing one or two windows in a conspicuous area may look uneven. One good strategy we recommend at Sound View Glass is to replace all the windows on one side (or level if you have a two-story house) to retain a consistent appearance. Often the windows on one side of a house deteriorate much faster than the others, based on conditions of sun and weather exposure.
Residential homes with windows over 25 years old should be considered prime candidates for replacement windows, both to gain the best energy efficiencies and to protect the security of the house. A home is an ideal candidate for a window replacement if its windows are sealed or painted shut, experiences ice buildup or a frosty glaze during the winter, gets fogged with condensation or has drafts that come through the windows.
Taking this into account, replacing one or two windows in a conspicuous area may look uneven. One good strategy we recommend at Sound View Glass is to replace all the windows on one side (or level if you have a two-story house) to retain a consistent appearance. Often the windows on one side of a house deteriorate much faster than the others, based on conditions of sun and weather exposure.
Many modern windows have wood frames that are covered on the exterior and/or interior with a layer called “cladding” made from vinyl, fiberglass or aluminum. This cladding protects the exterior window frame by strengthening its resistance to outside weather or heavy usage.
Different climates and buildings require different glazing in order to maximize energy efficiency. Some types of glazing can also help reduce outdoor noises from entering the home. Options range from the single-glazed glass with minimal insulating value (commonly found in historic homes), up through dual-sealed, triple-insulated glass with multiple Low E surfaces with an argon gas-filled insulated airspaces for maximum efficiency. The ENERGY STAR system, and the use of regional energy rebate codes, are an excellent guideline for the best choice for an average home in the area, but consult a Sound View Glass window specialist for more details and information on a wide range of windows and doors featuring an array of glazing options designed to provide superior comfort.
Grilles consist of color and design-matching bars that form a decorative pattern on a window or door by dividing the glass into smaller panes. This provides the look of traditional, small-pane glass windows and doors without sacrificing the energy efficiency, security, and cost benefits of a single large glass unit.
Impact glass is made of a laminated plastic compound bonded between two panes of tempered glass. When struck by an object such as a tree branch or stray baseball, the glass resists shattering, and loose pieces of glass are held in place by the lamination. This type of window provides greater security and protection by greatly reducing the risk of flying glass or debris from entering the home during high windstorms. It is less common in the Western U.S.

On a cold day, it is common to have some condensation on your home’s windows. Just wipe your windows off if they get too wet.

If, however, moisture is enclosed between two panes of glass in a window’s insulated glass unit (IGU), your window may have a failed seal or other problem. These windows should be replaced to improve energy efficiency and prevent damage to your home.

Glossary of Window Terms

Accent Window- A smaller windows designed to lend stylistic impact to a primary window.
Accent windows are usually fixed, and often incorporate interesting shapes or obscure glass.

Argon Gas- An odorless, colorless, non-toxic glass that is 25% denser than air. Because argon possesses
very low levels of thermal conductivity, it makes an ideal insulating element when sealed between panes of glass.

Awning Window- An awning window is hinged at the top and swings out from the bottom, offering
controlled ventilation and an unobstructed view.

Balances- A system used to hold the operating sash open in any position and allows the window to be opened or
closed with minimal effort.

Brick Mould- The decorative moulding surrounding the exterior of a window or door frame to provide them with
the traditional look of a wood window or door.

Casement Window- An operable window hinged on either the left or the right, casement-style windows
open like doors. While some types open inward and others open outward, both provide excellent ventilation.

Cladding- Windows that have wood frames covered on the exterior and/or interior with a layer consisting of vinyl,
fiberglass or aluminum. This cladding provides additional protection for the window frame by strengthening its
resistance to outside weather or heavy inside usage.

Double-Hung Window- A popular type of operable window, double-hung windows consist of an outside
upper sash that slides vertically down and an inside lower sash that slides up. Often the window will house concealed
springs or weights to aid in opening and latching.

Double Pane- Also known as IGU, double pane glass contains two separate layers of glass separated by a
layer of air or argon gas. Double pane windows are significantly more energy efficient insulators than single-pane windows.

Energy Star©- A joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to provide reliable certification standards for energy-consuming and energy-insulating products. Windows and
doors with Energy Star© ratings provide exceptional energy efficiency, reducing both heating and cooling costs.

Fixed Windows- Also known as picture windows, these are stationary panes of glass set in a frame.
Excellent for providing light and views, fixed windows do not open and provide no ventilation. The minimal hardware
involved makes fixed windows an excellent choice for unusual shapes like trapezoids, half-circles, octagon, etc.

Flashing- Metal strip installed at the top of a window or door to direct rain and moisture away from the
frame and other protruding elements. Also known as head flashing.

Frame-The surrounding outside portion of a window or door composed of the head at the top, the side jambs and the sill
at the bottom.

Glazing- The process of applying a coating or film to a glass pane. Different glazes can add strength, tint, or heat-directing
properties to a window, depending on their composition.

IGU- Another term for a double-pane glass window.

Laminated Glass- A form of safety glass made by coating glass windows with a film of transparent plastic,
laminated glass is most common in automobiles and skylights. The layering of glass and plastic also makes laminated glass
an effective sound-dampening material.

Low-Emissive Glass- Also known as low-E, this is an energy-efficient glass coating that reflects the thermal
Radiation spectrum in visible light, keeping interior spaces warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Mirror Glass- Made by coating one side of a glass pane with a highly-reflective compound like aluminum
or silver, mirrored glass can be used as decoration, set into doors, or even used to create one-way reflecting privacy glass.

Obscure Glass- A generic term for glass that has been textured, patterned, or shaded to limit visible detail
and provide privacy. Shower doors are often made using obscure glass.

Operable Windows- This type of window comes with an opening sash, and includes styles like single-hung,
awning, and casement. Operable windows always include hardware for opening and latching the window.

Safety Glass- Constructed to resist breaking and minimize physical harm, safety glass should be installed
anywhere that offers the risk of someone walking through the window, or any location exposed to repeated impacts or vibration.
Safety glass is usually either tempered or laminated.

Sash- The moving part of an operable window.

Single-Hung Windows- Similar to a double-hung window, a single-hung model has only one moving sash,
not two. Also known as a vertically sliding window.

Single Pane- A window with a single pane of glass. This style of window provides significantly less
insulation than double-pane.

Sliding Windows- An extremely popular style of operable window that has one (or more) fixed panes and
one (or more) moving panes sliding in a horizontal track.

Tempered Glass- A form of safety glass, tempered glass is heat-treated during production, making it three
to seven times stronger than common glass. This process also causes the glass to crumble into coarse pebbles
when broken, rather than dangerous shards.

Tinted Glass- Designed to reduce glare and solar heat, tinted glass is usually colored with either gray or
bronze tones.

Transom- A window stacked above another window or door.

Trim- The lining around a window frame, trim provides both increased insulation and aesthetic

Vertically-Sliding Window- Also known as a single-hung window.