Planning to install new replacement windows on your home? These days, homeowners have a wide range of replacement window options, from casement windows, sliders, to vinyl double-hung units. Beyond the style and size, though, there are other important variable homeowners must consider standard vs. custom windows.
What exactly is the difference?
In short, custom windows are made-to-order; they fit your home’s window openings perfectly. A window company comes to measure your windows, and those measurements are used to manufacture customized windows. Standard windows, on the other hand, are mass-produced windows that are available in a variety of standard sizes.
Which is better?
Although windows from Big Box stores offer convenience, they fall short in a number of key ways. From being less energy efficient to limiting a homeowners’ style choices, here’s a look at some of the reasons homeowners should consider custom residential windows.
1. Built to Fit
It’s a common misunderstanding that most homes have “standard” sized windows in them. In fact, every window manufacturer has their own set of standard sizes, and even they have changed numerous times over the years at the request of builders and architects. So the chances that the windows in your home are available in an off-the-shelf size at your local Big Box store are very slim indeed.
Custom windows are manufactured specifically for your home’s window openings regardless of whether your builder’s window sizes are still available. That’s really important. Otherwise, alterations to your home’s walls and retrofits must be made to get the next closest size fit as well as possible. Custom windows, on the other hand, can be made to fit any size opening without structural compensation. That means they’re usually much easier to install, and look as the original architect intended (except for the new appearance they bring to the home) and are more airtight.
Improved Energy Performance
With standard windows, larger gaps exist between the opening and the window unit. These gaps typically have to be filled with insulation or another type of filler. Therefore, Big Box windows don’t perform as well in terms of efficiency. Custom windows fit perfectly without the need for fillers
2. Higher Quality
Custom windows are built for a specific project. They don’t spend months in warehouses waiting for the sales floor. Because they’re made one at a time, manufacturers have much greater control over quality. Imperfections are noticed, and inspections are more thorough.
One problem with mass-produced residential windows is that quality varies from unit to unit. Most are produced long distances from the store, and damage during shipping is not uncommon. The result is that a “new” window may actually have lost its gas fill, or have been bent or cracked during shipping. This can reduce its efficiency, as well as limit its service life.
3. A Variety of Functional Customizations
When purchasing big box residential windows, homeowners are greatly limited in their choices for things like hardware, locking mechanisms, grid styles, frame color, screen type, and functional features (like a hopper window that opens out). When choosing custom windows, homeowners have final say over all of these hardware features, styles and functions.
Every detail is left up to the homeowner.
4. Choose Your Style
With custom windows, homeowners can fine-tune the design to match their home’s aesthetic. Every detail can be customized, from the materials, to the colors, and that makes custom windows perfect when you want a unique look for your home. Some of the options you can consider include:
- Colors – Whereas you might find standard windows in a 1-3 primary colors, custom windows have 50+ options. Plus, features like grids can also be colorized.
- Materials – Custom windows are available in a wide variety of materials, including vinyl, wood, and fiberglass. Ultimately, you can choose the exact material for the look you want to achieve.
- Features – Grids, screens, hardware and glass specifications are just a few of the features you can fine-tune.
When you choose standardized windows, you’re much more limited on your options. Most mass-produced windows are available just in white, and all have many of the same standard options.
5. Increased Value Add to Your Home
Custom windows increase your home’s value more, compared to standard windows. They’re often longer-lasting, more durable and have much better manufacturer warranties. Therefore, if you choose to sell your home, new custom windows can be a helpful selling point. Plus, custom windows can amplify your home’s curb appeal, improving your home’s resell value.