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How to make the best choice for your window replacement

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

How often do you think about your windows? Chances are, unless the glass shatters or the wood rots, you might take the windows in your home or workplace for granted.

Interior closeup view of doors.

A great window bathes the room in natural light; and whether it’s a beautiful Saturday morning or a long, boring day at work, exposure to sunlight boosts our health and mood.

If you’ve begun to consider window replacement as a viable solution to brightening your home, you may have come across the terms “residential” and “commercial”. Residential and commercial windows function in different ways and understanding each window type will help you make an informed decision.

Choosing the right window type has a variety of benefits. A good window will make your home more comfortable, attractive, and energy efficient. The benefits of an energy efficient window are especially noticeable in commercial buildings, which overwork their HVAC systems to combat the electricity usage from large amounts of people. Better windows mean the building does not need to use as much internal heat, because the insulated windows prevent air leakage.

When it comes to the structure of windows, commercial windows and residential windows are very different. The North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) assigns windows four separate grades: Residential (R), Light Commercial (LC), Commercial Windows (CW), and Architectural Windows (AW). These grades decide which window type is best suited for each kind of building.

The NAFS categorizations are as follows:

  • R- used in single or double family homes

  • LC- used in low-rise and mid-rise multi-family homes

  • CW- used in low-rise and mid-rise buildings that have higher loading requirements and limits on deflection. These windows are larger and more durable than lower grade windows

  • AW- used in mid-rise and high-rise buildings that have higher loading requirements, and limits on deflection. These windows stand up to the extreme weather conditions that come with the elevation and arrangement of high rise buildings. While homeowners can choose whichever type of window they want, we recommend a few guidelines to ensure the best decision for your home. For instance, installing high capability, architectural grade windows in a residential home would not be necessary. Residential homes are not subject to the same high-pressure winds and structural components as commercial buildings, therefore, installing commercial grade windows in a single-family house would be less beneficial than using a lower grade window. The opposite is also true. Putting low grade windows in a high-rise condominium would mean less energy efficiency, more leaking and condensation, and even outright structural damage.

Another factor to consider when choosing your window type is the price difference between residential and commercial windows. Residential windows are cheaper, more lightweight, and have a simpler installation process. However, while commercial windows are costlier, they are also thicker and more durable. Installing a highly rated commercial grade window will pay off in the long run with better energy efficiency and a safer home.

Now that you understand the basic differences in window grades and their functionality, you can take the next step towards a brighter, happier home.

If you are interested in replacing windows for your high-rise condominium, give us a call at OneSource Window Systems, and we would be happy to set you up with a free estimate. 

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