Q: I have an old picture window I want to replace with a bay or bow window. My budget is tight. Which type is best and most efficient? Should I buy an entire unit or assemble one from individual windows?
A: A bow or bay window is sometimes called the "poor man's sunroom." A nice bow or bay window can provide some of the benefits of a sunroom at a lower cost. Even though it costs less than adding a small sunroom, installing an efficient bow or bay window is not inexpensive.
No matter what type of window, bow or bay, you install in place of the picture window, it will be more efficient and reduce your utility bills. This can help to pay back its initial cost. You should be able to recover most of the cost because it will increase your home's resale value.
The basic difference between a bow and a bay window is a bow window is made of four or more windows. Five windows is a common configuration. More windows create a more circular appearance many people find attractive. Often, only the two end windows can be opened, but you can order them so they all open.
Bay windows are made from just three windows. The two angled side windows usually can be opened and are angled at either 30 or 45 degrees. The fixed center window is similar to a smaller picture window. A 45-degree bay window extends farther from the house and provides more space for plants or a bench seat. It is more like a small sunroom.
There is not a significant difference in the energy efficiency or durability of a bow or bay window. A bay window may be slightly more efficient because there are fewer joints and seams to be sealed between the window frames. Wherever there is frame material and supporting lumber in the wall, there is less room for insulation.
Unless you are very handy with tools, it is generally better to purchase a unit designed as a bow or bay window. This may cost a little more than assembling one from individual windows, but it will likely be stronger and more airtight. Some models use sophisticated designs to support the bow or bay window because it is cantilevered out from the wall.
As with any window style, the glass is its heart. Select the most energy-efficient glass your budget will allow, even if you have to cut back on the styling or trim options. Because a bow or bay window protrudes from the wall, it is ideal for natural ventilation. Select a casement window for each end because they catch breezes well.
Also look for a window that has insulation, often foam, in the seatboard. This saves energy and improves the comfort near the window. Your plants will also appreciate it.
The following companies offer bow and bay windows:
• Champion Windows, toll-free, at 1-800-875-5575, www.championwindow.com;
• Fibertec, toll-free at 1-888-232-4956; www.fibertec.com
• Peachtree, toll-free at 1-800-732-2499; www.peachtreedoor.com
• Thermal Industries, toll-free at 1-800-245-1540; www.thermalindustries.com
• Weathershield Windows, toll-free at 1-800-222-2995; www.weathershield.com
Reseal the deck
Q: I treated my wood deck with a sealer in fall 2007 to protect it from the weather. This past spring, the sealer began peeling off all of the horizontal surfaces. What did I do wrong and how can I fix it?
A: Your problem is not uncommon, particularly when a heavy surface sealer is used. The most likely cause of the peeling is the deck's surface was not adequately cleaned and the sealer only coated, rather than penetrated, the surface.
Use a pressure washer to clean off the peeling sealer. Use a decking cleaner, such as an oxygen-based bleach/cleaner, to further clean the surface. Treat it with a penetrating sealer such as Saver Systems epoxy sealer.
Send inquiries to James Dulley, St. Petersburg Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or go to www.dulley.com.