Mistakes not to make when ordering windows

This is the second installment of the great window adventure.

You can read all about where we started here.

When we left our heroine she was sharing what lurks behind the shades in the family room.

To catch you up to speed, her hair was amazing.

The windows were not.

Enter the hero of our story, Window World.  I’m partnering with them on the adventure to learn all about the window ordering process and what to look for and how to figure it all out and I have to start this episode by saying thank you to all of you.  On the last post you gave me some of the best advice in the comments.  You can read all that advice here.  I was so inspired by you that I put on my investigative hat and took notes and did some research and had lengthy conversations and texts with the owner of my local store and came up with a list of what I’m thinking about for the space.

I started by learning from all the mistakes of those that had gone before.  Sometimes before you know what you want, it’s important to figure out what you don’t want.

So here’s my list.

Here are the eight mistakes not to make when buying windows (accompanied by some pretty pictures to add a little inspiration to the subject).

Beautiful flowers in the living room

8.  Don’t forget the importance of material

What do you want your window to be made of?  It’s a great place to start.  Because sometimes what you thought you wanted isn’t what you really need.

For example, I was going with wood.  I live in an old house.  My current windows are wood, so that’s what thought I needed.  There are dozens of options with wood.  You can choose vinyl-covered wood or wood on the inside, vinyl on the outside or even just simply wood.

Then I researched the upkeep.

And the energy efficiency.


Vinyl windows were easy to maintain and the energy efficiency was off the charts.  I also have vinyl siding on the house, so vinyl windows would fit with the exterior styling of the home.  But here’s the thing.  I wouldn’t have known any of this unless I had done the research.  Don’t make the mistake of just choosing a material without making sure it fits with your needs and your home.

7.  Don’t forget to match the frames to the existing windows

This was one of my favorite tips from a reader.  I’m just getting windows in a few rooms, so it’s important that they match the other existing windows.  When you are looking at them in the showroom, you are viewing them independently from the house.  So it’s easy to overlook the frames.

Until you have them installed.

You don’t want black window frames or with all the other white window frames.

Make sure they all match.

Pillows on the window seat

6.  Don’t forget the view

I know this seems obvious, but what are you framing?

What is the view that your window overlooks?

If you have a beautiful view and the grid on the window will distract from the view, choose windows without grids.  On the other hand, if your window faces the trashcans, a grid will break up the view.  Or maybe some curtains. 🙂

5.  Don’t be intimidated by the terminology

One of the first things I noticed when I started talking windows were all the words I had never heard of before.  Like astragal or brikmold or egress window or jamb.

It was all a little overwhelming.

Until I found this.

If you are shopping for windows or thinking about windows or just want to drop general window talk into a conversation, you can download this definition list of industry words.

It makes you feel so much smarter.

New windows in the family room

4.  Don’t forget about cleaning

The number one tip you gave me was to look at windows that tilt.  Especially if you have a two-story house.  Here’s the cliff note version on windows.

Single hung windows are fixed in place.  Double hung windows have two operating, vertically stacked tilt-in sash.

The better to clean with.

3.  Don’t forget about how the windows will look from the outside

I found the BEST solution for this.  One of the readers suggested it and I followed up with Window World to see if they could do it.

You can send them a picture of the house and they will show you how the new windows will look in the space.

You can see an example of the process here.

I’m sending them a picture of my home so we can see the new windows and I’ll be sure and post the process here in a later post.

Window seat with flowers

2.  Don’t forget the energy efficiency

All glass is not created equal.

I would have never even thought about the glass and energy efficiency until a reader mentioned it.

You could get insulated glass, a combination of two or more panes with glass sealed in the air space between panes, or Krypton gas (hello Superman) between the panes or Argon gas between the panes.  There’s also low-e glass, a low-emissivity glass with a transparent coating which acts as a thermal mirror.

Bottom line: do your glass research.

1.  Don’t underestimate the importance of working with a reputable company

I cannot overstate this enough.  So many of you left this advice in the comments (along with so many awesome words about Window World)  to be sure and research the company you are working with.  My experience so far with Window World has been amazing.  I’ve talked to the manager personally on the phone and he’s answered a zillion questions and even gave me his cell number to contact him with any other questions I had.  He told me he will guarantee the windows and parts and labor and here’s my very favorite part.

He sent me a video of him and the team.

Just so I would know who I was working with.

Can you even believe it?

I’m going to visit the store next month and I’m bringing you with me just so you can meet him, too. 🙂

PS  If you have any other mistakes you encountered when you shopped for windows, I’d love to hear them.

I can always add a few to the list. 🙂

This post is sponsored by Window World.

All opinions are completely my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Lisa at celebrate creativity Lisa at celebrate creativity

    Hi KariAnne, great tips but did you have to include the one about "cleaning"? (smile). Window cleaning is among my all-time worst chores. the whole room is pretty and oh-so comfortable looking and the window seat is just lovely. Great light steaming into the room too. Beautiful pictures and the new lens really opens up so much more of your space for us to see. Have a wonderful weekend. Lisa

  2. Image for Leslie Leslie

    Thank you for leading the way with your detective skills and handy, dandy flashlight! Windows are in our future so all of this was wonderful... Happy Easter, friend!!

  3. Image for Cindy Cindy

    It sounds like you have all the important window info you need to make a sound decision. I think whatever window you decide to go with will look beautiful in this fabulous room☺️ Good luck!

  4. Image for Ardith Ardith

    First, what a gorgeous room. It is soul-soothing just to look at it. Regarding windows, last year my husband and I bought triple-pane windows for the entire house from a local source that manufactures the windows themselves. Our review a year later is, we are thrilled. They cut outdoor noise to a minimum and are extremely energy efficient. We couldn't be happier with our selection and highly recommend others research triple-pane windows. Cheers, Ardith

  5. Image for Courtney @ Foxwood Forest Courtney @ Foxwood Forest

    This is super helpful! We just purchased an old fox-hunting lodge built in 1938 and are turning it into our home. It still has all the original windows, which are beautiful...but also single-pane, old, cracked, and all of the above! Replacing windows seems like such a daunting task, and it can be hard to even know where to start!

  6. Image for Leona Leona

    Karianne, Not sure if you are getting screens for your windows ? We had no choice , the builder used one company ( a big brand name) Because of poor installation ( nothing squared) we had problems with the full length screens slipping left to right and not tight enough as it still let some bugs squeeze in. You will love the tilt out feature for cleaning. I am sure what ever you choose , they will be beautiful.

  7. Image for ananda ananda

    happy spring karianne!!! i am definitely keeping these advice in mind, because we are house hunting!! =) your site is a treasure trove i will be learning a ton from in the coming months as i daydream about each room ! xoxo

  8. Image for Kris Kris

    The flowers in your picture make me happy. I LOVE that you are doing these posts. I wish I would have had this kind of information when we were window shopping (and I'm thrilled that they can do mock-up pictures of your house with different window types--that would have been sooo helpful for me). We went through a local company, and were pleased with the windows--the only caution I would have is that local companies can go out of business (ours did) and if you have a problem, you may have to use a different company to fix it. The company we worked with was good about educating us on energy efficiency (and the owner was the one who told me that grids in my picture window would make me feel like I was in jail ... and he was right) but I would never have thought about having the materials match. We elected not to put in a bay window--I wasn't sure it would look proportional to the rest of the house--this is where a mock-up picture would have been helpful--but if we HAD gotten it, I would have had to invest in all new window treatments. Our window is 16 feet wide and looks out onto a fairly busy road, so we have to have the privacy. I also like "pretty" so this would have been crazy expensive for us. Just something else to add to your list of things to consider ...

  9. Image for Linda Andersen Linda Andersen

    Hi Karianne, It's me your weird stalker friend from Michigan :) This comment has nothing to do with windows. I just want to thank you for not karate chopping your pillows! All the decorator shows do that and I for one, think it looks stupid. But your pillows are all fluffed and square the way a pillow should look. Obviously you don't believe in this either, so I naturally assume I am right and the decorating shows are wrong :) Love you and your blog, house, you get the picture. I do have a comment about windows. In the house of the people I nannyed (sp) for, they had three windows in a row on the west side of the house. So the sun poured through all day. The part in the sealed windows is all crackled and you can't get to them as they are sealed, I know I said that already, and it looks terrible. And they were only a few years old. So my advice ? would be the sun beating through those windows. That's all I have. Love, Linda

  10. Image for Kim Banta Kim Banta

    We have put new windows, a room or two at a time, in our old house and in this "newer" lake house. If you want to save some $$, you CAN order the low-E and/or gas on just the windows that are west or south facing. They are more expensive, and if you just do the sides of the house that get cooked by the direct sun you can save some. I would suggest that you get the UV protected windows for all of the windows, so that you don't have fading of fabric, etc., inside. Also, make sure you look at the reflection or at least ask the question of the "tint" outside! We first purchased one BIG window as a replacement, then did the others. They are all next to each other, in a whole two-story wall of windows, facing the lake. Well, from the inside they look the same. When you look at them from the outside, a couple have a distinct green cast and the others a PURPLE cast! Happy Easter to us! Vinyl slanted sills are your FRIEND. Wood rots! Especially on a sill! Make sure the installer caulks those sills properly, and has good insulation behind those balances! Makes a huge difference is energy efficiency. Installers are NOT all equal. I'm sure that yours will be wonderful, since they are from a good company. We purchased windows and then found installers. Hubby put in a few, since we have done it before, but 44 windows were overwhelming, so after two not-so-great installers, we found one who was great! So sorry that I have written so much! I just want to pass along any tips that might help! There is so much to know, and we don't know we don't know until we "know" the hard way! Can't wait to hear about your field trip, KariAnne!

  11. Image for Donna Donna

    Karianne, I don't remember what part of the country you live, but Window World advised us that the triple pane, which had been recommended by another company, were not necessary as we live in Virginia and our winters are not that severe. I appreciated Window World giving us that piece of information and keeping the cost down.

  12. Image for Marijean Marijean

    We are in the market for new wi dows and I just told my hubby the other day I was going to call Window World. We have about 40 windows in our house so I can't do them all at once but we will get the ones that are the worst done first. Thanks for the information.

  13. Image for Janet Janet

    Great post. I'd also recommend getting a few extra parts in case company goes out of business or stops making the same window. We love our tilt in windows for cleaning but over time many sashcords (not sure they even use them still?) broke. If you get the snap in grids (instead of between glass panes) be sure to get extras in case they break. I also agree with the comment about checking out the window's tint from the outside of your house. I've noticed a neighbors new windows have a funny looking color. Lastly, great post and thanks for your many tips.

  14. Image for june june

    In Minnesota, permits are required to be pulled for window installation whether being done by a contractor or yourself. We replaced almost all of our windows a year ago because our builder back in 1988 used what they call builder grade windows and they functioned poorly. However, about 7 or so years ago we replaced the master bedroom and master bath windows with a well known Minnesota born company that guarantees a matching fit so that the outside of the window does not need to be altered. They pulled a permit but never called for a city inspector for a follow up inspection. The windows failed miserably. The crew seemed confused on the job and I recall calling my husband home because something just never felt right but because of their well known business nationally, we assumed all was well. Last year when we replaced our windows those two were the first to go because we had trouble getting the window in the master bedroom to open - it was a sliding style. This was the problem we had multiple times complained about from early on. I was told by their tech person who came to my house within a year of the installation it was the window getting adjusted to the environment of the home. HMMM - ironically they have no record of that visit. Or any other phone call I made to them. Again, this is a well known Minnesota company. We replaced our windows with Thermo Tech out of Sauk Rapids Minnesota and are extremely happy with them. At the time our contractor (not an employee of Thermo Tech suggested we follow up with the Better Business Bureau). We did and received a small compensation of around $800 as we only requested reimbursement on the cost to replace the damage to our home - they never installed the weather stripping along the window and the window caused the wood around it to root which caused the window to swell and on and on. I had great pictures which helped us support our claim. I only regret not asking for half reimbursement on the windows besides the damage cost. We paid close to $2,500 for two windows that never performed properly. I realize this post is long, but my recommendation to anyone pursuing windows is to stay on top of any problems you may have. Our only regret is that we did not take this to the BBB sooner. We had someone call within two business days after I filed an online claim. Curious who the company is - search Minnesota BBB complaints filed last fall. I would never recommend them to anyone. Karianne....you will LOVE vinyl. I too wanted to stay with wood but they are so easy to maintain in our state where our weather is ice, cold, snow, hot, humid....

  15. Image for Tania Tania

    Great list! I definitely agree with the need for tilting windows. I had them in my last house which was a 2-story and without them I don't think the windows would have EVER gotten washed! :o) Tania

  16. Image for Mary Alice Kenley Mary Alice Kenley

    Karianne, hey. Several years ago we bought an older home that needed some LOVE. I wanted to forego things like windows and new A/C in preference to cute things like rugs and lamps. Then the first winter came. Suddenly...suddenly, windows were important. We are on a lake and just on the lake side we have 8 sliders, not even counting all the windows on the other sides! After burning way too much firewood and purchasing lots of new blankets, we called Window World. Now it's several years later, and all of the windows have been replaced by this amazing company. Great choice!

  17. Image for Cindy Cindy

    I can't believe I missed your first post about getting new windows through Window World. I am getting mine installed next Friday, can't wait!! I used Window World in my last house and loved the savings on utilities. The best part, windows that direct sunlight came through made the house soooo hot; once the new WW windows were installed I could stand right in front of the windows and my skin didn't cook. I live in South Texas so it's ALWAYS hot, March through October, surely made me a happy camper! By the way, I loved the comment in the previous "window post" about the glass being old so you should save it, smart advice.

  18. Image for Margaret Margaret

    Our contractor had us go check out the windows he chose at the showroom. They looked fine to us so we approved them. It wasn't until we moved in a few months later that we realized we could lock them when closed but we couldn't lock them when they were open a few inches, like the other windows in the house. Now we can't leave our bedroom windows open at night or when we are gone without worrying about someone getting in through them. Ugh!

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