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Replacing windows elevates aesthetics, efficiency, value

When homeowners consider whether the cost and stress of a renovation is worth it, the answer is a resounding yes for window replacement. Benefits span from elevated aesthetics and energy efficiency, to cash.

According to www.Remodeling.hw.net, its 2021 cost vs. value analysis in our region shows window replacement recoups approximately 70 percent (the value the project retains at resale). That’s up there with kitchen and bath renovations.

Window replacement can be confusing, costly and have pushy salesmen. Considering average replacements range from $800-$3,500 per window, taking your time to green-light a project is prudent. You must also factor what I call the “COVID coefficient;” windows and materials are taking two to three times as long to get, and are approximately 15 percent more expensive.

Older houses in Boulder City present extra consideration. Should I preserve the historic look of my house? Can I afford to?

Hyrum Barlow, vice president of Hybar Windows and Doors in Henderson, says not to worry about “era sensitive” windows. “Older homes are unique and there are solutions … there are historical styles that are affordable within that realm.”

Know that windows have many different terms to describe the same thing — which can be a real pane, I mean pain. Mullions and muntins/muntin bars are dividers that separate glass panes. Mullions are larger vertical ones and muntins are what create the pane/light/lite within a grid/grill/grille.

Many Boulder City homes from the ’30s and ’40s still have the original Colonial-style double-hung, divided into equal pane sections with sets of 6/6 (top and bottom). They’re single pane, comprised of individual pieces of glass separated and joined by muntins and glazing.

Happily, modern windows can look like these old beauties, but they’re majorly different when it comes to efficiency. Today’s windows are double or even triple pane with insulative gas between them.

There are multiple types of “divided lights.” TDL (true divided light) are individual pieces of insulated glass separated by a grid that goes through the glass. In SDL (simulated divided light) the grid sits on top of a large single piece of glass. For GBG (grid between glass) the grid is encased entirely within the glass. Each style brings a different look and price.

Homes that have vinyl windows from the ’80s or ’90s are starting to fail. Barlow explains that vinyl from years past is different than today.

“Old-school vinyl failed in deep heat. Companies like Milgard and Anderson have really upped their game and re-engineered vinyl windows that are lasting twice as long as the old ones.”

When window shopping look for low-E and R-values. Low-E (emissivity) is a microscopically thin coating on glass that reflects heat away without minimizing light. The lower the number the better, with a .25 rating being excellent. A high R-value has greater resistance to heat flow. An R-value of 5 or more is considered highly efficient.

If a window is cloudy or has moisture inside, it’s from seal failure. Replacing that leaking pane is possible but with caveats. If the window frame is twisted or rotted (which may have instigated the leak), replacing the glass won’t make sense.

The same stipulations apply to retrofitting, which keeps the existing frame and replaces only the window sash. This modification is a great solution if you’re on a tight budget.

“It’s a case-by-case basis,” explains Barlow, “let me see the home and inspect the frames. If they’re warped or rotted, retrofitting won’t be possible.”

Residents living in original Boulder City homes should know there’s money available to help them maintain historic integrity when renovating.

“One of the purposes of the Residential Historic Preservation Grant recently approved by the Boulder City Council is to provide an incentive (up to $10,000) for property owners to retain the historical integrity of their homes though improvements that meet the Boulder City design guidelines and the U.S. Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Historic window restoration is one example,” says Michael Mays, community development director for the city.

Visit www.bcnv.org for more info.

Norma Vally is a seasoned veteran of home improvement; her career includes four seasons as host of Discovery Home Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Toolbelt Diva.” A columnist and author, Vally splits her time in Southern Nevada, Los Angeles and New York City. Follow her on Facebook at Norma Vally “Toolbelt Diva” and visit her at www.NormaVally.com. Email Norma@NormaVally.com.

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