Why Are Windows So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
Your home likely has several windows.
When they break or need to be replaced, you’re going to spend a lot of money.
Windows can be a costly investment, especially when they are better than the builder-grade windows your home was built with.
Why are windows so expensive?
There are quite a few reasons for the high cost.
Why Are Windows So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
It’s not uncommon for a single window to cost $800 or even more, depending on the size and the various features that you ask for.
Knowing what makes them so expensive will help you to make the investment rather than putting it off.
1. Cost Of Glass & Other Materials
The cost of the materials used to make your windows can be high.
The glass itself may cost $6 a square foot or more.
This depends heavily on the thickness of the glass as well as what goes into it.
The average size window is 24 inches by 24 inches.
Of course, this can vary depending on the style of home you have.
There may be a large picture window in the living room or a small window that is used to create light in a closet or bathroom.
The more glass there is, the more the window is going to cost.
Glass isn’t the only material that is used, either.
The frame will usually be made of aluminum or vinyl.
Aluminum is cheaper, but vinyl can reduce the amount of noise.
You’ll want to consider the pros and cons of each to determine which one you want in your home or business.
Depending on the overall design, fiberglass and wood might also be used.
Both can provide a stunning aesthetic.
It all depends on the kind of weather fluctuations you have around your home.
Rare wood can dramatically increase the cost of the windows because the window supplier will have to spend more money.
Some of the more expensive wood options include Sandalwood and Mahogany.
Even the various upgrades and customizations can add money to the window.
The fancier you want the window to be, the more you need to plan on spending.
It’s also important to remember that materials are based on supply and demand.
When the supply is reduced, and the demand is high, common materials will be more expensive.
This is simply because suppliers have the ability to charge more.
It can be extremely challenging to install windows.
While there are plenty of DIY videos out there, it’s not a simple task.
Most companies quote you the cost of windows with the knowledge that they’ll be doing the installation.
They have professionally trained workers who will take care of everything.
They’ll have the knowledge to install, and they’ll have all of the professional tools to help make the process go smoother.
If you don’t install a window properly, you may lose out on a lot of efficiency.
You may even have small air gaps that aren’t covered with insulation.
This can cause you to spend more on utilities and even encounter pests.
While the professional installation raises the cost of the windows, it’s better to pay for it.
This way, you can be confident that the window will fit the frame.
If there are any issues with the installation or the glass breaks, the company is responsible.
3. The Composition Of Glass
The composition of glass can be particularly fragile.
The reality is that glass can be composed of a variety of different elements.
You don’t want something that is going to shatter easily.
The glass windows of 100 years ago were considerably more fragile than the windows you’ll find in today’s market.
It all comes down to new products.
A lot of technology has made it easier to create stronger windows.
The most common type of glass used in windows is silicate glass.
This consists primarily of silicon dioxide.
If you’re familiar with the strength of quartz, the non-crystalline version is glass.
It’s why it’s so strong.
Glass is formed by melting silica-based sand.
Other types of glass are also created, which will change the properties and the color.
This includes moldavite, fulgurites, and obsidian.
The glass composition will depend on the company, the features you want to have, and how much you want to spend.
Laminated glass, for example, is common in car windshields.
It contains PVB resin that offers UV protection.
It is also used when you want hurricane and/or wind protection.
Obscured glass can also be utilized, though it is etched.
Essentially, it allows light to shine through, but you won’t be able to see through the window.
It can offer a significant amount of privacy and protection.
No matter how strong the glass is, it can break.
It can break during the manufacturing process, while in storage, or even when it’s being transported to your property.
Window companies have to compensate for breakage.
If they break the glass before it gets installed, it is their fault.
Therefore, they’re financially responsible for replacing it.
They are in business to make money.
If they encounter too much breakage, they lose money.
That means that you’re paying more for windows because of the possibility that the first round of glass may break on its way to being installed.
Is that fair?
However, you still have to pay it if you want new windows.
5. Market Competition
There’s a lot of competition in the marketplace.
This comes from local and national brands.
As soon as one company offers discounts, many others feel inclined to do the same.
This is because they know that competition is fierce.
No one wants to lose business to the company with the cheaper prices.
Unfortunately, competition can work against you, too.
All it takes is one company to decide that they provide a luxury service.
They raise their prices figuring that they are “worth” the added costs.
They’ll make more profit while keeping their expenses the same.
When the other companies see that the more expensive brand is still in business, they will follow suit.
They’ll raise their prices, too.
Suddenly, you’re paying more simply because the companies decided to increase their profit margins.
Prices will often continue to be raised in a market until there is a pushback.
If people are willing to pay high prices, companies will continue to charge them.
This means that companies will keep raising prices so that they can find the “sweet spot.”
The higher they can go, the better it is for them.
They are not concerned about whether it’s expensive for you or not.
You always have a choice.
You can pay the high costs or go without new windows.
6. Special Features
There are a lot of features that you can get for your windows.
This will impact the aesthetic as well as the amount of light.
The more features you choose, the more it will likely cost you.
Fixed frame windows offer flexibility.
They don’t open or close, so they are ideal in areas that are hard to access.
They are also highly efficient when it comes to energy.
Hinged windows offer a lot of functionality.
These can provide you with clear and unobstructed views.
If you have a great view, this could be a worthwhile feature.
Double and single-hung windows also have to be a consideration.
Both are popular.
The double-hung windows can be easier to clean, especially since you can wash both sides from the inside of your home.
With so many features, it’s important to know what you want out of a window.
Does it need to open?
If so, do you want to have it hinged to open to the right or left?
Would you rather move it up and down?
Beyond your “basic” windows, you also have to consider the shape of the window, whether you want the glass to bow, and more.
Even the coating of the window should be considered.
UV protection, security film, and more can be added.
It can offer a variety of benefits, but it also comes at an added cost.
Not all companies offer all types of windows.
Discuss the aesthetic you want so that you’re not paying more for special features because it’s not “standard” for the company.
7. Custom Made
Every window is custom-made.
Of course, there are the DIY windows that you can buy at your local home improvement store.
However, those are the cheap ones.
If you want quality windows, you have to pay.
The reason you pay more is the custom nature.
Every window in your home will measure differently.
Even if the window looks to be the same size, it is not.
Many are off by a few tenths of an inch.
These measurements matter.
It allows you to get a tight seal so that you don’t experience airflow issues.
It delivers premium air efficiency.
The custom nature of the windows comes into play with the glass as well as the window frame.
You want to make sure that you get a perfect fit.
As such, the glass and the frame have to be specifically measured and cut for your home.
Based on the features you want and the issues you want to address, the window may be made from various materials.
The glass may even be treated in many ways.
Something that is made for you likely can’t be resold.
This is why it will cost more.
It’s customized for your preferences and your home.
8. Built To Last
Imagine what a pain it would be if windows were constantly breaking.
Suppose a bird runs into it.
You’d be spending a fortune.
You want to be able to open and close windows at will.
If you have to worry about it damaging the frame, you’re in trouble.
Your windows should look good and be functional.
When you spend the money on windows, they need to last.
Most companies charge a pretty penny because they are using quality materials.
They have done the research to know what materials will hold up.
They’ll recommend specific products based on the elements your home or business is exposed to.
Along with the longevity of materials comes a warranty.
Most companies will provide you with a warranty of three to five years.
Some may even provide you with a 10-year warranty.
This gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you are making a good investment.
9. Improved Efficiency
Windows are one of the most important things for energy efficiency.
If you don’t have a tight seal, your AC-cooled air could be going right out the door.
You pay the money for good windows so that you get a tight seal.
You also get the thicker glass so that the hot and cold air isn’t escaping outside—or working its way indoors.
If you don’t have good windows, you’ll pay more on your utility bills.
If you’ve ever had an energy audit performed on your home or business, one of the first things they’ll check is the windows.
If your windows aren’t new, they’ll recommend a replacement.
If you spend good money on windows, it could actually save you money throughout the year.
You’ll see that you spend less on gas/electric to cool and heat your home or business.
In the end, new windows can pay for themselves because of the better efficiency.
Especially if you’re concerned about efficiency, talk to the window company.
They may have a few features to recommend.
You could notice a difference within the first few days after the windows are installed.
10. Labor Issues
There’s a labor shortage throughout the country, and that’s going to take a toll on everything.
When it comes to skilled labor like window installers, companies have to pay more.
Nothing is cheap.
When unskilled workers are demanding more money, everyone wants more money.
After all, it requires more skill to install a window than it does to perform simpler jobs.
As the labor costs go up, everyone has to pay more.
Companies are forced to pay the requested labor rates for skilled professionals.
This could add up to hundreds of dollars more a day—and you’ll pay the difference.
No company wants to see its profits shrink because of labor or materials.
This results in the added costs being added to your bill.
In addition to the cost of labor, there’s another problem.
Some technicians are skilled in various areas.
They’ll go where the money is.
This leaves window companies without the needed people to do the job.
The result is that you will either wait weeks (or months) for the installation of your windows, or you’ll pay even more because the company has to wave money in front of the laborers.
Skilled laborers are often not allegiant to one company.
Whoever is willing to pay them the most is where they’ll work.
As you see the labor shortage continue, remember what this will mean when you see the “labor” line item on your windows estimate.
How To Save On Windows
Saving on windows is possible—and much of this has to do with knowing what you want and shopping the competition within your local market.
First, figure out what you want.
Do you want double or triple-pane windows?
Do you want them to be single or double-hung?
Are there any customizations that you want?
By knowing what you want, you only pay for what you actually want.
You won’t get forced into paying for “extras” because of an aggressive salesperson.
Hold firm on what you want.
If there are features you don’t need or want, there’s no sense in paying for them.
Second, decide on who is going to do the work.
There are a lot of companies that specialize in windows.
Some are local brands while others are national.
Often, national companies are more affordable because they get bulk pricing.
Local brands, however, may have better deals and won’t send out high-pressure salespeople.
Ask for at least three companies to come out to your home.
Make sure they measure the windows.
Give them the exact specifications that you want.
Then, ask for written estimates.
Don’t forget to ask for any discounts that they offer.
This can range from teacher, veteran, and first-responder discounts all the way to referral bonuses that they offer.
There’s nothing wrong with saving.
If you find that a company is charging too much, ask them why.
Point out that their quote was higher than everyone else’s.
See if there’s a reason for their higher pricing and if they will lower the price to be more competitive.
Some companies may even offer financing so that you don’t have to spend thousands to replace your windows all at once.
Why It’s Worth Investing In Windows
Windows are responsible for so much in your home or business.
They protect the interior from the outdoor elements.
They help to provide light so that you don’t have to rely so heavily on indoor lighting.
They also help to reduce the sound from the outside.
There’s also the aesthetic.
You want to love the look of your windows, both inside and out.
There are ways to enhance the look, but you have to be willing to spend the money.
When you buy cheap windows, you can encounter various problems.
You may not get the efficiency that you desire.
You may hear too much traffic noise.
You may even find that they are more likely to break in a storm or because of a nuisance outside.
Good windows should last for at least 10 years.
That means, to get that kind of warranty, you have to spend the money.
There’s a difference between builder grade and high-quality windows beyond cost.
Typical builder-grade windows will only last a year.
At that point, you’ll want to replace them because they will fail to provide you with the desired features.
Rather than replacing windows every few years, spend the money on good ones so that you can forget about them for the next decade.