The windows of your home perform a lot of functions — from keeping your home comfortable and energy efficient, to keeping you safe and boosting your home’s value. The best way to choose the right window replacement is to know the different features available — and that means knowing what all those industry terms actually mean.
At Iron River Construction, we believe in making it simple and straightforward for homeowners to understand their options and make good choices that give them the beautiful home of their dreams. As a window replacement contractor that has helped hundreds of homeowners in greater Minneapolis and St. Paul choose windows that make them happy, we have put together a list of handy terms and lingo. Use it as you compare window selections — and feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to know more!
Window Frame Parts
There are several parts to a window, all of which determine how the window functions. It’s handy to recognize the elements that make your window work.
- Apron — Window trim attaching the interior sill to the wall beneath it
- Casing — Molding that covers the space between the window frame and wall
- Head (or head jamb) — Topmost part of the window frame
- Jambs — Vertical sides of the window frame
- Flashing — Tape used to weatherproof windows
- Frame — Includes the entire structure of the window (head, jambs, and sill) that form
the opening where the sash and pane will be fitted. Made of a variety of materials you can choose from (wood clad, wood, aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass)
- Sash — Frame that holds window glass in place
- Shims — Small wedges used to fill in tiny gaps between window and casing
- Sill — The bottom part of the window frame
- Sill Extender — Same as the apron (listed above)
- Weep — Tiny holes in the windowsill that draw water condensation outside of the home instead of gathering on window interiors
Window replacements come in a variety of styles, giving you many options to suit your needs. You can mix and match styles, using beautiful broad windows in your living room, for example, while opting for smaller, more stationary windows in a bathroom.
- Awning — Hinged at top and opens outward
- Bay— Uses three or more window units attached together and projecting outward from the exterior wall
- Bow — Uses four or more window units to create a bow formation
- Divided Light — Features several small glass panes held in place by little frames to create one large window
- Egress — Window specifically designed to provide an escape route in case of emergency, and often required by local and state building codes to meet a specific size
- Fixed Panel — A window that purposely doesn’t open
- Hung — Refers to how many sliding sashes a window has, which determines how the windows are opened
- Single Hung — one sash slide (typically at bottom, allowing bottom of window to slide up)
- Double Hung — two sliding sashes (one at bottom, and one at top)
- Panes — Refers to number of glass panes that make up the window; more panes add more insulation (typically available today in double and triple pane options)
- Picture Window — Large fixed window offering a great view, but that doesn’t open
Energy Efficiency and Insulation Features
Window replacement contractors can help you navigate through a variety of options that help you create a more comfortable, less drafty, more energy-efficient home.
- Air Chambers — Small, honeycomb-like spaces between frame and sash, which help strengthen and insulate the window
- Argon Gas Fill — A non-toxic, odorless, colorless gas used to fill in the air space between two windows; reduces transfer of heat and cold, to create more insulation
- Energy Rating — Explains how energy efficient the window is, based on nationally set standards
- Energy Star® Certified — Meets efficiency standards set by the government’s Energy Star program; indicates windows are highly energy-efficient
- R-Value — Indicates how well a material resists the transmission of heat; a higher R-value means it resists heat flow better, giving you more insulating value
- U-Value — The amount of heat transferred through a material; a lower U-value means heat flow is slower, and you receive better insulation
- Weather stripping — Goes between the sash and frame to keep air from escaping and prevents water infiltration
Beyond the size of window pane, you’ll want to think about other glass features that meet your needs. Some glass is designed to be less breakable and safer. Other glass treatments provide better insulation.
- Glass Size — The measurement of all the glass in the window, not just the visible glass
- Glazing — Encompasses the entire glass system in the window (glass, glass coating, insulating spacer, and glass sealants)
- Laminated Glass — Made of two sheets of glass melded together with plastic between them, helping lessen the likelihood broken glass will fall out of the frame
- Low-E Insulating Glass — A thin, see-through coating that filters out harmful UV rays and prevents heat from streaming through; provides good insulating value
- Tempered Glass — Glass that is produced by a rapid heating and cooling method that makes the glass stronger than regular glass; when broken, it produces small, pebbly fragments that are safer than large shards from regular glass
- Wire Glass — Glass blended with wire during its making; adds safety by helping prevent broken glass from falling out of sash
Know When You Need New Windows
You may be wondering if you need a window replacement. A few ways to recognize when it’s time to replace your windows include:
- Old windows that look unattractive
- Stains and limited ability to bring in natural light
- Broken or dysfunctional windows
- Windows don’t open, close, or lock properly
- Condensation on the interior of your windows
- Higher than usual heating and cooling bills
Our window replacement experts will help you navigate your options to select the right style, material, and features you need. We’ll walk you through the latest trends (such as bold, black frames) and more classic styles. We use trusted brands such as Marvin, Andersen, Jeld-wen and Pella to give you cozy, bright, insulated windows that make you smile every time you use them. To see how your window replacement can look, browse our galleries of finished home upgrades and begin dreaming!