Getting a clear answer to “How long do windows last?” can be a challenge for homeowners.
In the guide below, we’ll dive into the average window lifespan, the factors that impact how long windows last, and signs you need to replace your windows.
How many years do windows last?
How long should wood windows last?
On average, wood windows last between 15 to 20 years. There are exceptions where wood windows can last a really long time. This depends on the type of wood used in the frame. Maintenance and care are also variables that affect the lifespan of wood windows. Overall, wood windows are beautiful, but they can have a somewhat short lifespan because they are prone to termites, insects, and rot.
How long do vinyl windows last?
On average, vinyl windows last between 20 to 40 years. Vinyl windows are popular among homeowners due to their longevity. They also are relatively low maintenance, cheaper than wood windows, and easy to install. Because they are built with non-corrosive compounds, they are less susceptible to damage and warping from weather variations.
How long do aluminum windows last?
On average, aluminum windows last between 20 to 25 years. Aluminum, or metal windows, are very lightweight and are one of the most economical options for replacement windows. However, they are more likely to show wear and tear, such as dents, cracks, scratches, and rust.
How long do fiberglass windows last?
Fiberglass windows have some of the longest lifespans and can last up to 50 years. While more expensive than other options, these windows provide a number of benefits, including better insulation and noise control. They are a great option for consumers who want to upgrade the windows in their forever home.
Window Lifespan Variables
While the above numbers are good baselines, homeowners should take note of the following factors that can both prolong and decrease window lifespan.
Window Quality and Manufacturer
Not all windows are created equally. When looking at replacing your windows, evaluate the manufacturer closely. What type of products do they use? What does their manufacturing process look like? Are they based locally? To get a good gauge on window quality, ask your window sales consultant about warranties. Product warranties are a great indicator of how confident that manufacturer is in their product, and how long most of their products will last.
Frequency of Use
Normal operation of windows over the years can lead to wear and tear. Depending on how often you open and close certain windows, you may need to repair or replace certain parts more frequently.
A lot of the typical usage functions of a window such as the sash or crank, can often me easily replaced or repaired. Some of these items may be also covered under a window warranty (if present).
Overall, keep in mind that windows are designed to open and close for cleaning and ventilation. Just be careful when operating to not force open or close the windows as this may cause more damage and lead to costly replacements.
Climate and Weather
Where you live, weather, and seasonal variations also play a role in how long your windows will last.
While most modern windows are built for durability, certain severe climates can cause them to break down faster. The windows in your home will sometimes need to battle elements like extreme hot and cold temperatures, sunlight, and moisture.
These climate and weather variances can cause warping, wear, and discoloration over long periods of time.
How your windows are installed also plays a direct role in window lifespan. Make sure to work with a reputable window installation company when replacing the windows in your home. Professional installation will make sure that your windows are sized and fit properly. This is critical for energy efficiency, but also important to ensure a long lifespan. When windows are improperly installed, water and outside elements can seep in around the window and cause damage.
How do I know if my windows need replacing?
If you’re wondering how long windows last on average, you may have noticed something wrong with your windows that indicates they need replacing. Age is a good indicator of whether or not you should replace your windows, but there are other tell-tale signs that your windows are nearing the end of their life.
Some signs that your windows need replacing include:
Uncomfortable Living Spaces
If you have difficulty keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, old windows may be the culprit. Pay attention to uncomfortable drafts near your windows. This could be an indicator of poor installation or potentially broken seals.
High Utility Bills
If you’re starting to notice hot and cold spots near windows, you’ll likely see a high utility bill follow. Choosing ENERGY STAR Windows can help improve energy efficiency and reduce utility costs. Old, leaky, inefficient windows results in your heating and cooling systems having to work overtime, which will come at a premium.
Damaged Window Frames
Inspect the frames around your windows. Signs of deep cracks, rot, and other unsightly blemishes to the window frame can indicate a bigger problem. Damaged frames are likely going to result in unwanted heat transfer, flooding, and window failure.
If you find yourself having issues opening or closing your windows, you may need to look at replacing your windows. Older single and double-hung windows become more difficult to operate over time. This usually happens because of settling and frequent use where systems fail.
Condensation between window panes is a common problem, especially with double-pane windows. If you notice condensation that just won’t go away, this is typically an indicator of a broken seal. Replacing the window at this stage should be prioritized because efficiency and visibility are depleted.
How do you extend the life of a window?
Taking good care of your windows and implementing a routine window maintenance schedule will help you extend their lifespan. For more detailed maintenance tips, check out This Old House – How to Maintain Your Windows or Family Handyman – How to Maintain Home Windows.
The best way to extend the life of your windows is to regularly inspect them. Set a quarterly calendar reminder to check up on all the windows in your home. Pay attention to the window frame and sash. Look for signs of rot and water damage. Catching these symptoms early will allow you to diagnose the culprit and rectify the problem before it’s beyond repair.
Another way to simply stay on top of your windows, while providing years to their lifespan, is to clean them regularly. When cleaning your windows, make sure to deep clean all parts including the glass, casing, frame, and surrounding walls. This will help reduce dirt and grime that builds up around the windows that can result in malfunction.
Additionally, consider these tips to extend the life of your windows:
- Regularly check for and repair any damage to the sealing or weatherstripping.
- Ensure proper drainage around the window to prevent water damage.
- Apply appropriate treatments to wood windows to protect against pests and rot.
- Lubricate moving parts, such as hinges and tracks, to ensure smooth operation.
- Inspect and repair any damaged or worn hardware, such as locks and latches.
- Install window film or shades to protect against harmful UV rays that can cause discoloration and warping.
By taking the time to maintain your windows and address any issues early on, you can help extend their lifespan and ensure they continue to function efficiently and effectively for years to come.