Shopping For Replacement Windows – Understand The Language

Replacement Windows | Window Styles | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors and Remodeling
Can you name the components of your favorite window styles? Knowledge is key to selecting top-performing replacement windows.

Shopping for replacement windows for your Madison WI area home is serious business. A task often complicated by sales jargon and a language of technical terms. Whether you’re learning from a salesperson or a series of brochures or publications, there are terms that require explaining.

Begin your search for replacement windows consult our WINDOW BUYERS’ GUIDE.

Replacement Windows Defined

Here’s a place to start with your study – a guide to window terms from A to Z:

  • Apron: Inside horizontal trim at the bottom of a replacement window.
  • Argon: An odorless, colorless, nontoxic gas that is six times denser than air. Argon between two panes of glass reduces temperature transfer and energy loss.
  • Awning window: Hinged at the top, with a single sash that swings up from the bottom.
  • Balance: Device in double-hung windows for counterbalancing a sliding sash so sash can be held open at any given position. Usually a system of cords, weights and springs.
  • Bay window: A series of three or more windows projecting out from the wall. Usually one large center window with two fixed or operating windows at 30-, 45- or 90-degree angles.
  • Bow window: A series of three or more windows in a curved or bow formation. Typically consists of casement windows both fixed and operating positioned at 10 degree angles.
  • Brickmold: Standard outside casing around the window to cover the gap between the window frame and the opening. Nails driven through the molding attach window to framed opening.
  • Casement: A window with side hinges that cranks outward.
  • Casing: Molding or trim around the frame of a window or door.
  • Check rail: The bottom rail of the upper sash and the upper rail of the lower sash on a double-hung window – where the lock is mounted.
  • Cladding: Usually aluminum or vinyl covering the outside faces of wood windows.
  • Condensation: Water collecting when air hits a surface whose temperature is below the dew point – such as a window glass exposed to cold outdoor air.
  • Cottage double-hung window: A double-hung window with the upper sash shorter than the lower sash.
  • Double-hung window: A window with two vertically moving sashes, each closing a different part of the window.
  • Drip cap: Horizontal exterior molding diverting water from the top casing so it drips beyond the outside of the frame.
  • Extension jamb: A board used to increase the depth of window frames to fit a wall of any given thickness.
  • Extrusion: A form produced by forcing metal or vinyl through a die. Window and door frames are often clad with extrusions.

Window Styles Vary – Terms Do Not

Window styles change all the time and so do replacement windows. The latest technology is revealed in the following terms:

  • Fixed light (also fixed sash): Windows that don’t open or move.
  • Geometric window: A fixed framed window made up of two or more angles.
  • Glazing: The glass panes in a window. Also refers to the installation of glass.
  • Glazing bead (also glass stop): Removable trim that holds glass in place.
  • Grille (or muntin bar): Grilles give the appearance of a divided window pane; usually removable for cleaning.
  • Head jamb (or head): All of the horizontal pieces that make the top of the window frame.
  • Header: Supporting piece or beam above window openings which transfers weight above to supporting wall structure on each side of the window.
  • Impact resistant glazing: Glass specifically manufactured to withstand impacts. Often used in areas subjected to impacts from storms.
  • Insulating glass: A combination of two or more hermetically sealed panes of glass with an air space between the panes – often filled with argon gas.
  • Jamb: The vertical pieces at the side of the window frame.
  • Jamb depth: Width of the window frame from inside to outside.
  • Jamb liner: The plastic or metal track installed in window jambs for the window sash to slide.
  • Laminated glass: Similar to car windshields, it sandwiches a piece of transparent film or plastic between two panes of glass. Typically used for safety to resist shattering. Also reduce noise transmission from outside. Can include sun- and heat-shielding materials, films.
  • Lift: A handle on the bottom sash of a double-hung window to assist in the raising and lowering.
  • Light (also lite): A pane of glass within a window. Double-hung windows are designated by the number of lights in the upper and lower sash, as in 6-over-6.

Every Detail Matters

From individual panes of glass to the hardware that holds them together every detail matters when choosing replacement windows:

  • Low-E Glass: Refers to glass with low-emissivity due to a film or metallic coating on its surface. Usually constructed of dual, sealed panes of coated glass filled with pure inert gas to block ultraviolet heat to cool while reflecting room heat back into the room for heating.
  • Meeting rail (lock rail): One of the two horizontal pieces of a double-hung sash that come together. A check rail.
  • Meeting stile: The vertical piece in a pair of stiles, as in abutting casement windows.
  • Mortise: A slot or rectangular cavity cut into a piece of wood to receive another part.
  • Mortise and tenon: A strong wood joint made by fitting together a mortise in one board and a matching projecting piece (tenon) in the other.
  • Mullion: A vertical piece (usually wood or metal) to structurally join two windows or doors.
  • Muntin: Often called a grille.
  • Nailing Fin: A vinyl or aluminum extension attached to the frame of replacement windows to create a positive seal between the window and the framed wall.
  • Palladian window: A large, arch-top window flanked by smaller windows.
  • Panel: Usually refers to the glazed panel or panels in a door frame.
  • Parting stop: A vertical strip on each jamb separating the sash of a double-hung window.
  • Rail: Horizontal piece of a window sash.
  • R-Value: The measurement of a material’s resistance to heat transfer –  higher R-Value equals greater insulation value.
  • Sash: Framework of stiles and rails holding the glass of a window.
  • Sash lock: A lock applied to the window to pull the sash tightly against the frame (casement) or to pull the check rails together (double-hung) to seal the sash from weather and for security.

Replacement Windows Hung, Stacked And Sliding

No matter what your Madison home needs, there’s a new window style ready to go.

  • Seat board: A flat board cut to fit the contour of a bow or bay window and installed between the sill and the wall as a seat or a shelf.
  • Shading coefficient: Decimal value noting the solar gain of a window – the shading coefficient of clear, double-glazing is about 0.85 to 0.9.
  • Sill: Horizontal piece at the bottom of the window frame.
  • Single glazing: Single panes of glass in a window sash – not as efficient as double glazing.
  • Single-hung window: Similar to double-hung window, except the top sash is stationary.
  • Slide-by window: Windows that slide horizontally.
  • Stacked windows: A grouping of awning, casement or non-operative windows forming a large glazed unit.
  • Stile: Vertical piece of a window sash.
  • Stool: An interior window trim extending to the sill and providing a narrow shelf.
  • Stop: A wood trim piece nailed to a window frame to hold, position or separate window parts.
  • Tandem lock: A locking system securing a window at two locking points with one lever.
  • Tempered glass: Specially heat-treated, high-strength safety glass which shatters into pebble-sized particles and not in slivers.
  • Tenon: A rectangular piece of wood inserted into a mortise.
  • Thermal break: A thermal insulating barrier between two thermally conductive materials.
  • Transom: Small window above a door or another window.
  • Transom joint: Horizontal piece separating a door from a window above the door, or separating one window above another.
  • Triple glazing: Three panes of glass with two air spaces between, commonly insulating glass with a separate storm sash.
  • U-Value: Measurement of heat transfer – the lower the U-Value, the better the insulation value.
  • Weather-stripping: A resilient material applied to the perimeter of the sash and/or frame to minimize the potential for water and air infiltration.
  • Windload: The force exerted on a surface by moving air.

Professional Installation Key To Replacement Windows

For more details on replacement windows check out Sims’ Pella Windows site.

No matter the window styles, sizes or shapes their performance is only as good as their installation. Sims fields skilled, experienced and factory-trained installation teams.

Sims Exteriors and Remodeling brings the tools and skills to every window replacement job. Call us at 608-825-4500, or email us for the latest window styles and replacement windows for your Madison WI area home.

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