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Choosing the right type of windows

There's a huge variety of windows for all tastes and budgets and there are many materials to choose from: wood, PVC, aluminum, fibreglass, and aluminum or PVC-clad wood. This buyer's guide outlines the advantages and drawbacks of the various manufacturing materials used to make window frames.

Everything you need to know about building materials

Here are the most common window frame materials available on the market today.

The 8 main types of windows

Aside from the choice of materials, the type of closing mechanism deserves some thought as well. Casement windows, sliding windows and double-hung windows are the most popular models, but you can also find less conventional models such as the awning window.

Pro Tip: how to replace a window in 7 steps

Even though we recommend you ask a window specialist to install your new windows, it is possible to do it yourself. For detailed information, check out our page on how to install a window in 7 easy steps.

Insulating value

Glass is one of the main causes of heat loss in a house, no matter the insulation value of your windows. Double-glazing is now standard for all new windows, with an R-2 insulation rating. With the advent of this type of glass, technology has been focussed on trapping inert gasses (argon or krypton) between the two panes of glass and using sophisticated energy-efficient glass that can attain a R-9 rating (a wall, for example, has a R-20 rating).

It’s important to choose your glass according to the orientation of the window relative to the sun. Higher quality glass should be installed in windows that do not get much sun. It is also wise to consider these factors when installing door or window trim

A440 standard

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has established a rating system for windows that examines all window components and features, from glass to cladding. It is a handy reference guide to use whether you are buying new windows or installing replacement windows.

Tests provide ratings for the degree of airtightness (A1 to A3), water tightness (B1 to B7) and wind resistance (C1 à C5). It is recommended to choose A3, B3 and C3 ratings, and even more in harsher climates.

Since these tests are expensive for manufacturers, many do not have their products tested. Although many untested products would probably receive a favourable rating, it is advisable to choose products you are sure have been tested.

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