4 Key Terms To Learn Before Purchasing New Windows

Since high-quality windows are built to last many years, it is not often that homeowners are shopping around for new replacement windows for their home. So, naturally they are not inclined to know the ins and outs about purchasing new windows. For most people, window shopping is foreign territory and we’re not talking about strolling downtown and admiring shop displays along the sidewalk. We’re talking about being able to differentiate all the features and benefits of high quality windows and all the capabilities they offer for your home’s specific needs.

If you’re in the market for new windows and want to walk into your meeting with the installer with some form of knowledge about replacement windows, here are 4 key terms to learn before purchasing new windows:

Operable and fixed

These terms are pretty straight forward. Operable windows refer to window that have the ability to open. Whether they slide open or they are cranked open, they are operable as long as you are able to open them such as with casement windows, single hung, double hung, and awning windows. Since these windows can allow air in and out of the home, it is important that they are able to seal securely to keep warm air in and cold air out and vice versa in warm weather months. To prevent air leakage high quality windows are built with two options, either a compression or a sliding seal. Windows with a compression seal are generally better for airtight assurance. Furthermore, windows like awning or casement that require locking should have a mechanism that pulls the unit tight against the seal providing an airtight seal.

Fixed windows refer to windows that are not designed to open such as picture windows, bow or bay windows. These types of windows are ideal for insulation because they are always guaranteed airtight. Furthermore, they provide additional security. Bear in mind that all living spaces should have at least one operable window as an alternate exit in case of a fire or other emergency reasons.

Frames and sashes

As you know a window is made up high performance glass components and is held together with a frame and a sash. The glazed window unit fits into the sash while the frame holds the sash in place.

It’s important to inspect the construction of the new windows particularely the durability and materials of the frame and sash. Reason being is, the frame and sash can be major sources of heat loss due to conduction through the material, as well as air leakage. It’s important that highly conductive materials used to produce the frame and sash have thermal breaks in their design in order to increase energy efficiency.

In terms of materials, frames and sashes can be made from aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, wood or a combination of these things. Each material comes with its own features and benefits as well as required maintenance from time to time, so you might want to ask your salesperson what is best depending on your particular needs.


While you’re shopping around for new windows and discussing your options with a salesperson, you will often hear the phrasing single, double or triple glazed which refers to the number of glass panes included in a single window unit. For example, a single glaze is built with one pane while a double glaze is built with two panes.

In Canada, it’s required that all windows have a minimum of double glaze. Plastic films can also be placed inside the glass for additional energy efficiency, as well as an inert gas like argon. When considering various option for glazing and insulation values, bear in mind that the better the insulating properties, the higher the value of the window.

The best performing replacement windows are wet-glazed with co-extruded exterior seal, for maximum leak protection and structural integrity. They should come with standard with argon gas fill between the two panes of glass, and Energy Advantage Hard Coat Low Emissivity glass, the glass type best suited to Canadian climates.


Spacer are located between the window panes on a double-glazed window. It will appear as a strip of material where the glass is connected to the frame. Spacers are used to keep a consistent separation between the two panes of glass.

Why is this important to know? Well, with metal spacers, they conduct energy easily which can be a contributing cause of heat loss or poor window performance. So as you’re browsing different window types, be sure to ask about the spacers and whether or not they are made of metal. You want spacers that are made from non-metallic materials as they will provide better insulating properties.

Whenever you’re shopping for new replacement windows, there’s no harm in getting helpful advice from the professionals. Get connected with an experienced windows installer near you and get the best practical advice on your door and window replacement project. If you’re toggling between the idea of installing your new windows as a DIY weekend project or getting a professional installer. Experienced professionals will always recommend the ease of having an specialized window installer do the job for you. Let’s face it, replacement windows is not a cheap purchase. It is an important decision to move forward with the decision to purchase new windows for your home and there are many benefits to it such as, increasing the value of your home, security, energy-efficiency, comfort, and aesthetic. Protect your investment by having it handled and installed perfectly by professionals who could ensure these windows look and feel brand new for many years to come. Remember, your new windows will only work as well as they are installed.

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