Freeman Exteriors

How Long Do Windows Last? A Guide for Homeowners

how long do windows last

Have you ever heard the phrase you get what you pay for? Some people take this advice when buying vehicles or appliances. It definitely applies when buying new windows.

Replacing old windows isn’t always an easy process. How do you know which windows to buy? How long do windows last once they’re installed?

Taking a little time to learn about the lifespan of windows can save you money. Knowing what to expect from your home window lifespan can help you decide to repair or replace. Keep reading to find out more about the lifespan of windows and when to replace them.

How Long Do Windows Last?

The average life of a good quality wood frame window is about 20-30 years. Aluminum windows are about 20 years. Vinyl windows, if conditions are right, can last up to 40 years.

There are other factors to consider as well. If only part of your window is damaged, it may be possible to replace that part. Many times, it’s a better idea to just replace the entire window.

Signs You Need a New Window

1. Water or moisture between glass panes. It’s called glazing and it means the weathertight seal has failed. It’s less energy-efficient and will affect your heating/cooling bills.

2. Any rot around the window. Indicates water or moisture damage. This means the sealing around your windows is damaged. The longer you leave it, the more damage you’ll have.

Leaky seals can also cause damage to your siding or insulation. Replacing a window immediately could save you a lot of money in siding repairs.

3. Can’t open or slams closed. This means the pulley mechanisms are shot and a replacement is in order.

4. Won’t Lock. When homes shift, the window alignment can get off. This can also affect your home security. If a window can’t lock, it can be pried open from the outside.

5. Only one pane. Years ago, single-paned windows were the only option for homeowners. These days, more energy-efficient double-paned options are widely available.

6. Let in a lot of noise. Is the neighbor’s dog is barking louder? Maybe you can hear that traffic outside more than you used to. These are indicators that your window is losing insulation and need to be replaced.

7. Outdated windows can make a beautiful home look drab. If you’re updating siding or flooring, consider updating windows, too. Fresh windows boost curb appeal and freshen up indoors as well.

New Window Need-To-Knows

Thermal efficiency is measured by the window’s U factor. If the U factor is low, your energy bills will be lower, too.

Warranty can indicate quality. If a company stands behind its windows, they’ll offer a lifetime warranty. If you’re considering a window with a warranty of 10 years or less, don’t expect it to last longer than 15-20 years.

Installation Matters

Installation plays a big role in home window lifespan. Make sure the contractors you hire are certified to install windows. Read reviews and ask for references from pasts clients.

Ask to see homes where the company has installed windows or done some other work. If the company is confident in the quality of their work, they will provide you with references or past jobs to see.

Vinyl Windows

Vinyl window frames are made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They don’t need to be painted and can match almost any color. Insulated vinyl windows are energy efficient.

Vinyl windows don’t require as much maintenance as wood windows. Not all vinyl windows are created equal. It’s important to do some research about manufacturers and insulation before booking vinyl window installation.

Well-maintained vinyl framed windows last an average of 20-40 years.

Wood Windows

Windows with wooden frames are a classic choice for many homeowners. You just can’t replicate the look of beautiful wood. Wood windows are higher maintenance than vinyl.

Over time, paint and primer peel off wood window frames. Stained wood can fade and look drab. Moisture-resistant barriers products fade over time leaving the wood vulnerable to weather damage.

Wood-framed windows that are well maintained should last up to 20 years. Failure to keep up on maintenance could have you installing new windows before then.

Aluminum Windows

Aluminum windows can last up to 40 years. So why aren’t more homeowners replacing old windows with aluminum framed windows? These windows aren’t very energy efficient.

Because it’s such a terrible insulator, aluminum ends up costing homeowners more in energy bills. If you have any desire for quality insulation, aluminum windows probably aren’t for you.


Fiberglass framed windows are fairly new to the home window party. They offer the durability and insulation of wood and vinyl. Although, vinyl is still slightly more durable.

Unlike vinyl, fiberglass can be painted. Because of their makeup, fiberglass windows can last up to 50 years in the right conditions. Because it’s new and high quality, homeowners will pay more for fiberglass windows.

Choosing the Right Window Replacement

So, how long do windows last? The answer depends on materials and installation.

Vinyl and wood windows are popular among homeowners. Good quality vinyl and wood windows should last 20 years or longer. Aluminum framed windows can last up to 40 years but lack good insulation. Fiberglass windows can last up to 50 years in the right conditions.

Window materials matter, but so does the installation. Who is replacing your old windows will have a big impact on your home window lifespan. Make sure the installers are credentialed professionals with a good reputation.

Replacing old windows in your home? It’s best to buy nice so you won’t have to buy twice.

Let the professionals at Freeman Exteriors help you. Our family-owned business would love to partner with you in your next home renovation. Give us a call at 217-355-5447 or send us a message today.


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