New windows can add new functionality, comfort, and aesthetic appeal to your home -- but like any other home improvement project, the more you know about what's going on, the better equipped you'll be to make smart decisions. Here are four things you should make sure you ask your window replacement and installation company before you give the green light to go ahead with the job.

1. "Do I Need to Perform Other Renovations as Well?"

One of the big advantages of hiring a professional instead of installing your own windows is that professionals notice potential trouble signs you might never catch. For example, if you're replacing a window because its wooden frame has deteriorated, then you'd better ask yourself where else that deterioration may have occurred. A leak or condensation issue in the window may have encouraged mold growth, not only on the frame but inside the surrounding wall. 

Lead paint is another issue that may need professional attention. The trim in older homes was typically painted with lead-based paint. This paint doesn't normally pose a health threat (unless paint chips have peeled away for curious children to eat), but construction work such as window replacement could throw lead dust into the air where it can be inhaled. Your window installer will be on the lookout for lead-based paint in an older home and may suggest that you have it removed by a professional lead removal company.

2. "Which Type of Window Best Suits My Needs?"

The sheer variety of window styles, types and shapes can boggle the mind of a homeowner shopping for new and interesting options. But these variations are more than just cosmetic. Your installer can help you make up your mind about issues such as:

  • Fixed vs. movable windows - If you want a functional window that can be opened and closed to create a breeze through the house, choose a casement, sliding sash, or hinged window. If you're more interested in enjoying a large, uninterrupted view, select a fixed design such as a picture window instead. 
  • Frame materials - Wood is a beautiful and versatile choice for window frames, but it's also prone to wear, dampness, and termite infestation. Vinyl is a lightweight material that resists wear and can be textured to resemble wood. Aluminum frames are particularly strong but can encourage condensation.

3. "Do I Need Double or Triple Pane Windows?"

Do you struggle to pay your energy bills in the summer and/or winter months? If so, then your windows may not be thick enough to provide proper insulation against extreme temperatures. Ask your window replacement company whether it recommends double-pane or triple-pane windows as an energy-efficient solution. Multi-pane windows not only provide a double layer of glass that serves as a thermal barrier, but they also contain a layer of argon or other inert gas between the panes for additional insulating power.

Although triple-pane windows can be up to 30 percent more efficient than double-pane windows, they are also more expensive. Double-pane windows are usually sufficient in most temperate areas of the country -- but if you live in a region known for brutally cold winters, your installer may recommend that you make the extra investment to maximize your energy efficiency. You may even be advised to use double-pane windows on some sides of the house and triple-pane windows on others, depending on which sides face the sun.

4. "What Is Low-E Glass?"

Double-pane and triple-pane windows aren't the only kinds of thermal control you should know about. Ask your window installers whether they install low-E glass and whether that option makes sense for your home. A common addition to triple-pane windows, Low-E glass contains an invisible surface film impregnated with tin oxide or silver. These metallic particles reflect infrared energy. Depending on which way the film faces, it can keep heat from escaping or entering through your windows -- and a double-faced product can accomplish both goals at the same time.

The more questions you ask your window installer -- from styles and materials to related renovation concerns -- the more satisfied you're likely to be with the window replacement process and results. For more information, contact an experienced window replacement company.