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What to Look for When Buying New Patio Doors

Happy family on cozy patio area with sliding doors.Patio doors may not be front and center when it comes to your home’s exterior, but that doesn’t mean they don’t play a vital role in its beauty and functionality. Outdated, dingy, and poorly operating patio doors can be more than just nuisances and eyesores. They can be a barrier to accessing and fully enjoying your backyard, deck, or patio. Thankfully, an experienced company can replace patio doors quickly—usually in just a few hours—and with minimal disruption to your home. With installation being relatively straightforward, the key to a successful remodel is choosing the right kind of patio doors for your home. Here are four things to consider when buying new ones.    

Style

Let’s start with the most basic question: what type of patio doors should you go with? Just because your current doors are one style, it doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up with their replacements.

Sliding

The most common style of patio door is sliding, and for two big reasons. First, since the doors don’t sweep outward or inward, they do not require a lot of floor space to operate. Second, with their large glass doors, they let in plenty of light and offer great views.

French

French doors are close behind sliding doors in terms of popularity. These hinged options offer classic styling and plenty of hardware options. French doors also have a lower threshold than sliding doors, which require a track for the panels to operate.

Folding

If you really want to make your outdoor living area an extension of your home, folding patio doors are the way to go. These doors stack against each other as they retract and can open up an entire wall of the room, proving maximum access and unobstructed views.  

Glass Options

There’s no shortage of glass options when it comes to patio doors. Some of the most popular are impact glass, tinted glass, and glass with low-E coatings that filter out UV rays, the type of light that causes color fading in sun-exposed fabrics and flooring. You can also opt for energy-efficient glass packages that have gas fills between the panes, increasing thermal performance.   

Frame Material

Just about every patio door frame is made from one of four materials: wood, metal, fiberglass, and vinyl.

Vinyl

Among frame materials, vinyl is the most popular, especially with sliding doors. Vinyl is durable, easy to clean, energy efficient, and stands up well to temperature extremes.

Wood

Wood patio doors are beautiful and come in a variety of types and finishes. They do require more maintenance than other options, but with proper care should last as long as any other material.

Metal

Steel and aluminum doors are exceptionally durable and often more affordable than some other options, but they may not be as energy efficient as vinyl, wood, or fiberglass models. 

Fiberglass

Like fiberglass windows, fiberglass doors are growing in popularity. They offer the best strength-to-weight ratio of the four, combining exceptional durability in a lightweight package. And because of their strength, the frames can be a little less bulky than other types of patio doors. But they are more expensive than vinyl or metal.   

Convenience and Decorative Options

The right finishing touches can take your patio doors to the next level. In addition to hardware options such as handles and reinforced locking mechanisms, you’ll also be able to choose from a variety of grid options and even built-in blinds that are sandwiched between the glass panes. And of course, you’ll be able to choose from many different colors and finishes.

Your Source for Premium Patio Doors

Deciding which patio doors are right for your home will depend on your budget, your aesthetic preferences, and your needs. If sorting through all the possibilities is a little daunting, you don’t have to go it alone. The Window Depot offers and installs premium patio doors from top manufacturers Simonton and PGT. One of our representatives will be happy to visit your home in the Tampa Bay area to review options and answer all your questions. Reach out to us today. You can also visit our Palm Harbor showroom to chat and view samples of our patio doors firsthand.   

Common Causes of a Drafty Window

Common Causes of a Drafty WindowOn windy days, do you hear your windows rattling? How about the curtains? Do they sway when a breeze kicks up? Drafty windows can do more than make your home grumble and sigh. They can force your HVAC unit to work harder to keep indoor temperatures comfortable, which in turn can lead to higher utility bills. In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently estimated that drafty windows can cost up to $330 a year in additional heating or cooling costs. That’s enough to send a chill up any homeowner’s spine. But what causes windows to become drafty? And what can be done about it? Here are three common causes of drafty windows.    

Seal Failures

Upon installation, windows are caulked along all seams and edges, and the spaces between the jambs and framing members are filled with insulation. Unfortunately, caulking doesn’t last forever and insulation degrades over time. When this happens (and it will happen eventually) it creates gaps that allow air to pass through. How long your seals last will depend on several factors, including how often you open and close the window (wear and tear), and what kind of climate you live in. Temperature extremes cause windows to contract and expand, which stresses the seals.

Improper Installation

If your new windows are drafty, it’s almost certainly the result of improper installation. As explained above, windows must be properly caulked and insulated if they are to prevent air leakage. The window jamb must also be perfectly aligned within the frame to ensure an airtight fit once the caulking and insulation have been added. This is a precise, multi-step process, and it’s not unheard of for even professional installers to improperly position the frame ever-so-slightly.  

Deteriorated Hardware

Even the simplest window is still a complex piece of machinery, with plenty of parts that must work in conjunction with each other to provide optimal weather protection. It doesn’t take a complete component failure to cause a window to become drafty. Worn-out gaskets, subtle frame warpage, and thinning glazing can allow air infiltration even if the window is still fully functional.       

How to Tell if Your Windows Are Leaking Air

We’ve already mentioned a few of the more obvious indications that your windows are allowing air to infiltrate your home. But more often than not, drafts are subtle, elusive, and hard to detect. A professional energy auditor can conduct a pressurization test using extremely sensitive equipment to find even the smallest leak. There are also a few things you can do on your own that will give you a better idea of the state of your windows. The following techniques work best on windy days:

  • Close all windows and doors
  • If you have a fireplace flue, shut it
  • Turn off any fans in the house
  • Light an incense stick and hold it close to the edges of the window or
  • Wet your palm and do the same

If your windows are leaking air, the smoke rising from the incense stick will waver. You should also be able to feel a cool sensation across your damp palm. 

What to Do if Your Windows Are Drafty

For a quick and temporary fix, there are several steps you can take to improve your windows’ ability to keep out drafts. V-seal weather stripping can be added along the sashes. Shrink-and-seal films can be added over the window’s inner frame. Even a few daps of carefully applied nail polish can be applied to cracks.

Most of these techniques eliminate the ability to open and close the window, so they are not intended to be a final fix. The surest way to eliminate drafts is to have the old windows replaced with new, energy-efficient ones. At The Window Depot, we are the Tampa Bay area’s premium exterior contractor and offer a variety of impact and non-impact windows from such leading manufacturers as PGT, Simonton, and CWS. If you’re ready to upgrade your home, reach out to us today and schedule a no-obligation consultation. You can also visit our expansive showroom in Palm Harbor to see full-scale mockups of our windows first-hand.

Five Benefits of Vinyl Windows

Five Benefits of Vinyl WindowsVinyl replacement windows have come a long way in the decades since they were first introduced. Once considered cheap and unattractive, early vinyl windows were susceptible to temperature extremes and couldn’t match their wooden counterparts in terms of beauty. That’s not the case anymore. Today’s vinyl replacement windows have been upgraded in every way, from new additives that increase vinyl’s resistance to cracking and color fading, to advanced manufacturing techniques that have vastly improved overall quality. Thanks to these advancements, vinyl is now the most popular window material, not only in Florida, but also the rest of the country.

Of course, every window material offers something that makes it an appealing choice for manufacturers and homeowners alike, whether it’s wood, metal, fiberglass, or vinyl. The key to deciding which is right for your home will depend on your priorities, preferences, and budget. Here are five benefits of vinyl windows.      

Durability

Moisture and insect damage are the two major factors that contribute to the degradation of windows, and unlike wood and metal options, vinyl is impervious to both. Vinyl will never rot or swell. That means they’ll continue to function properly for decades. You won’t have to worry about sticking sashes making opening and closing a struggle or impossibility. And termites have no interest in vinyl. What’s more, unlike metal, vinyl will not oxidize or pit over time. Vinyl windows are also impact resistant. And while vinyl does expand and contract in temperature extremes, unless your home routinely reaches temperatures above 165 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s no danger of warpage.

Affordability

When comparing the cost of various window materials, it’s important to remember that each type falls within a range. There are low-cost and premium options in every category, with plenty of overlap. For example, the most expensive vinyl windows will cost more than the least expensive wood windows, but the quality will correspond to the craftsmanship. In other words, you’ll get what you paid for. With that in mind, vinyl is one of the most economical window materials on the market. On average, it’s more affordable than wood, composite, fiberglass, and most aluminum collections. 

Ease of Maintenance

Vinyl windows require very little care to keep them looking great year after year. As previously mentioned, they will never succumb to rot or insect damage, so there will never be a need to make spot repairs. And since the color is infused throughout the frames, there’s not a coating of paint that can chip or crack. In fact, a quick wipe down with a damp cloth should be all that’s required to clean the frames. And here’s a bonus: many double-hung models have sashes that pivot inward to provide easy access to the outside glass. That’s an invaluable plus, especially on upper-story windows.   

Energy Efficient

Unlike metal, vinyl is a poor thermal conductor. And that’s a good thing! It prevents the outside and inside temperature of the frame from quickly equalizing. This, in turn, helps keep the inside of your home warmer or cooler than the ambient outdoor temperature. The thermal performance of vinyl windows can also be further enhanced with options such as insulation-filled frames, warm-edge spacer systems, and triple-pane glass with argon or krypton gas fills. Low-E glass coatings are also a good idea since they block damaging UV rays responsible for color fading in sun-exposed fabrics such as drapes, curtains, and upholstery.

Faster Installation

Vinyl is lightweight and easy to work with. That makes installation generally easier than other window options such as wood and aluminum. When necessary, minor adjustments can be made to ensure a proper fit. With heavier windows, this may require more time and effort. It also increases the chances of something being damaged in the process, either on the new window or the opening it’s being fitted into. Vinyl windows are a little more forgiving when it comes to minor alterations.

If the time has come to replace your windows, the company to turn to in the Tampa Bay area is The Window Depot. We offer a wide selection of premium vinyl windows from PGT, Simonton, and CWS, including high-efficiency and impact-resistant options that will stand strong against the summer heat and extreme storms common in our semi-tropical climate. Contact us today to learn or more. You can also drop by our Palm Harbor showroom or schedule an in-home consultation.

What Causes Condensation Between Window Panes?

What Causes Condensation Between Window Panes?Window condensation is a fairly common occurrence, and one every homeowner has observed at some point. It can range from barely noticeable to covering the entire pane. This can certainly be an annoyance, is it a cause for concern? That depends on where the condensation is. Droplets that form on the inside or outside surface of a window are a result of humidity levels and glass temperature. This type of condensation is harmless. There’s not much that can be done to prevent outside window fogging unless you want to make the temperature inside your home the same as the temperature outside your home. For most people, that’s an extreme solution to a very minor issue. Condensation on the inside of a window is the result of high humidity levels. In colder climates, this is more noticeable in the winter. In southern states, it’s more common in the summer when HVAC units are running 24/7. Investing in a dehumidifier, occasionally opening the windows to release moist air, and upgrading weatherstripping can help reduce inside window condensation. Although condensation on the inside or outside of window glass is nothing to worry about, that’s not the case with condensation inside the windows.

Why Windows Fail

First a caveat. It’s obviously not possible to have between-the-panes condensation with a single-pane window. Everything discussed here applies to double- or triple-pane models. So, what causes condensation inside the glass? It’s a one-two punch of seal failure followed eventually by desiccant saturation. Let’s examine each in a little more detail.

Seal Failure

All double- and triple-pane windows have seals to protect against moisture incursion. In fact, most premium windows have two sets of seals. The inside seal is between the glass panes and the outside seal is between the frame and the sash. These seals are usually made with a flexible caulk that is pliable when first installed. This means they can flex when the window frames expand or contract due to normal daily heating variations, thus preventing gaps from forming. As window seals age, however, they begin to stiffen, which inevitably leads to seal failure. Despite its rather ominous sound, seal failure is not something that greatly affects window performance. At least, not at first. The amount of moisture infiltration is small, and modern windows have a backup component to compensate: desiccant. 

Desiccant Saturation

Window desiccant is an absorbent material installed between the glass. Its purpose is to draw excess moisture from the atmosphere between the panes (in energy-efficient windows, that’s either argon or krypton gas used as fill) and “lock” it away. Desiccant can be in the form of clay, silica gel, or aluminosilicate depending on the type of window, with clay being the least expensive and aluminosilicate the most. Window desiccants can soak up a lot of moisture and usually last for years. But they are not a permanent solution and will become saturated at some point. When this happens, they can no longer prevent condensation from forming inside the glass.

When you take into account both the seals and desiccant, by the time you notice condensation the window’s primary and secondary moisture defense systems have failed. And if the inside seals are broken, chances are the outside seals between the frame and the sash are as well. This can allow moisture inside your house, either in the form of vapor (humidity) or leaks.

How to Eliminate Condensation Between Window Panes

In some cases, between-the-panes condensation can be fixed with a window restoration. This involves removing the glass and recaulking the seals. This process is mostly used on historic windows that are of significant architectural value. For most homeowners, the better option is usually to upgrade the windows entirely with new models that are more energy efficient and easier to operate while requiring minimal maintenance.

At The Window Depot, we are the company to turn to for all your window replacement needs. We proudly offer options from PGT, Simonton, and Custom Window Systems (CWS). If you are a homeowner in the Tampa Bay, Sarasota, or Venice area, we’ll be happy to provide a complimentary consultation to review all of the windows we offer and install. You can also visit our showroom in Palm Harbor to see examples of our models.

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What are the Types of Entry Doors?

Thinking about buying a new entry door? Overwhelmed by what type you should consider – Aluminum, uPVC Skin Composite, or Fiberglass Skin Composite?

The Window Depot is not only only Tamp Bay’s best source for replacement windows but also entry doors! Read below for a handy guide to understand the differences between they types of entry doors. Any questions, call us and we’ll be more than happy to help!

There are a few types of composite doors available on the market for homeowners to choose from. The three main types of composite doors are metal like steel and aluminum, fiberglass and uPVC. Composite doors are strong, last longer and are better insulated. They require very little maintenance or upkeep. Composite entry doors are available in a range of colors and styles as well to suite the décor of your home or business. Each type of door has it’s own specific benefit depending on the material used in its fabrication and overall workmanship.

Aluminum Skin Composite Door:

These doors are available in a single layer, double layer, or a triple layer. The outer layer is always aluminum and usually smooth in texture. On doors with two or more layers polyurethane foam is used to make up the core. The foam is great for insulating and sound damping properties. On triple layer entry doors you will have an extra layer of galvanized aluminum built into the door.

Aluminum doors tend to be used more in commercial environments like office buildings, dorms, hotels, and some corporate installations. A common style includes an aluminum frame with a glass window in the center. Aluminum doors also cost less that wooden doors. Usually when building a structure that includes a lot of doors such as a school you will see aluminum doors as the choice due to it’s overall value.

uPVC Skin Composite Doors:

Due to the easier maintenance and better durability than a wood door most people prefer a composite door. There are plenty of modern designs available to choose from as well. With the right paint these doors will maintain a long luster in the elements. When the grime and dirt accumulate simply wipe down your door with soap and water to have everything looking new again. These doors also resist nicks, scrapes, bumps, and jabs better than wood doors. Lastly environments that have high humidity or moisture may want to look at a PVC skin door.

UPVC composite doors also resist the weather better than wood doors. Adding a piece of frosted glass will also help let in light during the day while adding an ornamental and decorative characteristic to the door. It’s debatable as to weather the light entering you home can offset the cost of lighting your entry or foyer. Since composite doors are made by machine they are available in many different sizes and moldings. They also can come with different options like knockers, letterboxes, peepholes, and windows.

Fiberglass Skin Composite Doors:

Fiberglass composite doors are also available and provide a bit more rigidity and avoid the expansion and contraction of the summer and winters. Fiberglass doors are constructed using fiberglass and resin and are also available in a variety of shapes and sizes. The skin is molded from a resin in a liquid form which chemically hardens during the manufacturing process. This allows for a finer grain definition. Fiberglass doors tend to also last a very long time and are very versatile but they are not as sound proof. Speak to your local door and window store representative to find out which door is best for you.

The Window Depot offers top-quality products from leading manufacturers, including:
PlastproThermaTru

To beautify your home and protect your family, schedule your free consultation today.

The Benefits of Vinyl Siding

If you still have wood siding on your home now is a great time to consider replacing it with vinyl. There are many reasons homeowners switch to vinyl siding instead of wood. Some of these reason include better protection, more style choices, cost, and less maintenance.

One benefit of vinyl siding versus wood siding is the fact that it will never be eaten by termites or any other wood destroying organisms. Vinyl relative to other siding materials is pretty resistant to deterioration. Tampa, Pinellas County along with the rest of Central Florida is an especially humid environment coupled with long periods of high precipitation keeping the exterior of your home constantly moist. Wood will eventually swell and begin to rot even if it is sealed, protected and re-protected against the elements.

‘Vinyl siding comes in an array of styles and colors and will most likely come in some type of color that matches or compliments your home. The integrated baked-on paint or stain finishes won’t fade saving you from repainting old siding or the original exterior of your home. All the time and money of painting adds up over the years.

Another reason homeowners prefer vinyl siding is the fact that it costs less than traditional wood siding. Not only is the initial cost of installing the vinyl siding cheaper than wood siding but the cost of maintenance will be cheaper over the long run. You home will look great year after year without you having to break out the ladder and paint over and over.
Vinyl siding is a lot more stress free as you will not have to worry about the many flaws that are inherent with wood siding. As mentioned before, no insects will eat vinyl siding. The weather wont rot, warp or cause vinyl to deteriorate. There isn’t any paint to chip or peel off.

Not all siding is the same. Our products are designed specifically for Florida’s zone 9 and 10 subtropical climates. Premium siding from The Window Depot siding resists rotting, warping, cracking, hurricane-force winds, salt air, and insects. It’s even non-combustible, flame- and melt-resistant, and approved for fire-rated construction.

Save Some Green by Making Your Home Green

There are many ways to improve the energy-efficiency of your home. Taking steps to improve energy efficiency will help reduce the costs associated with maintaining your home and those costs related to your utilities. Reducing the carbon footprint of your home is great for the planet and makes your home’s value increase. There are products that you can use as part of your home as well as within your home to help achieve this goal. Making your home green can involve other products or activities you may not have considered. One important aspect of going green is reducing your carbon footprint by using less energy in multiple aspects of your house. One of the best ways to reduce energy usage is to ensure your home is adequately insulated. You can take it one step further by using eco-friendly insulation made out of materials like cotton, wool, recycled fabrics like denim and even soybeans. While you’re poking around the walls, evaluate your outdoor siding. If your home is older and in need of a facelift, consider green products like fiber-cement siding or insulated vinyl siding. Both will last for many, many years and require virtually no maintenance. Replacing older appliances is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption in your home. The upfront cost of replacing older appliances may deter individuals from considering this option but depending on the appliance you are replacing you can easily recoup that cost in the long run. Your washer and dryer, refrigerator, range, hot water heater and ac unit are some of the top consumers of electricity within your home. You can look to see if these appliances still have the energy star label on them. If hey do have the labels you can jot down the information and take it with you to the store to compare how much a newer appliance will reduce your energy consumption. This can help tell you how long it will take to offset the cost of replacing the actual appliance with newer one thus guiding you budget decision When cooling or heating your home most of the energy is lost through doors, windows, and older less efficient insulation. You can easily upgrade the appearance, security, and efficiency of your home by simply upgrading your windows and doors to newer more energy efficient doors and windows. Triple-paned or double-paned windows are your best option in regards to improving the efficiency of your home. Other added benefits of a triple-paned window or door would include protection from debris during a hurricane or severe weather event. It also would be more difficult for an intruder to enter through the glass. Lastly these windows and doors will help reduce the sound and ambient noise entering your home from the surrounding environment. As you can see there are many added benefits to new windows and doors besides the reduction in heating and cooling costs. As you can see there are many ways to reduce the toxicity and energy consumption of your home. From using L.E.E.D. Certified materials, upgrading to new, more energy efficient appliances and replacing your windows and doors with more efficient materials. Taking these steps will save you money in the long run and help keep your family healthier. Lastly you will pump up the value of your home with your new improvements. These are great options to consider for your home especially if you plan on staying there longer than 40 years.

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