Before you install your windows, you better be darn well sure you're going with the ones you both want and need. As we said before, windows are oftentimes the most inviting, interesting characteristics on your house's exterior. Don't choose something you won't find aesthetically pleasing to look out of or at for a whole lot of years.
But let's get into what kind of decisions you need to make when installing windows. When shopping for replacement windows, you'll find that you have several (seemingly thousands) to choose from, all of which have names that aren't entirely descriptive.
Casement, hopper, single- and double-hung: These are fancy names that list operating types and basically describe how the windows open or hinge. While the choices are mostly aesthetic, you'll want to make sure your choice fits in the frame you have. Keep in mind that some are better than others at energy savings; a window with any kind of sliding action will most likely be less tight against a frame, to account for the gliding motion [source: Energy Savers].
Another decision you'll have to make is whether you'd like vinyl or wood frames. And while it's a matter of taste, you'll also want to know the pros and cons. Vinyl windows don't require ongoing maintenance and are generally less expensive. Wood, on the other hand, can be painted or stained, and many prefer it to keep windows from looking mismatched to the house [source: American Vision].
You'll also need to determine what kind of windowpane you'll be staring out of (or into). Of course, we all picture glass when we think of windows in the home. But acrylic (or Plexiglas) has become a popular option. Acrylic windows are generally lighter and don't shatter as easily as glass. However, double-paned glass insulates just as well as acrylic and doesn't scratch nearly as easily.
Now that we have our windows ready to go, let's pull the blinds on the next page, where we'll learn how to get those suckers into place.