Obviously, if you need to replace some windows and doors, there are some issues with the ones you currently have. Such as, your windows or doors may be rotted, your windows may be fogging, your doors might be warped, they may not be energy efficient, or they are just plain ugly and out-of-date or all of the above.
Buying the least expensive window or door for your home is never the best thing to do. They are usually cheap for a reason. In my opinion, it is well worth the extra cost to receive the increased value you receive for an energy efficient PVC or aluminum/clad window unit versus a vinyl replacement window.
Most vinyl replacements are not aesthetically appealing compared to an aluminum clad, PVC, or wood window. You also lose additional glass space with a vinyl replacement window, since they are an encapsulated window designed to install directly into your existing wood window frame. The wood frames are then capped with a coated aluminum trim coil. If the capping is not done correctly, water will seep in behind the aluminum coil and begin to rot the wood frame underneath and you may never know it.
If you choose to install a Full PVC Unit, or Full Aluminum Clad Unit, you can be assured that what you see is what you get; you shouldn't have any worries about the window frames. After all, peace of mind is what we all want, isn't it?
If you want a window that will never rot and the freedom to have a variety of color choices… PVC is the best option and value of any window on the market. You lose these options with aluminum clad and vinyl replacement windows because the exterior of the windows are not paintable. PVC windows are made to look identical to a wood window thus keeping the classy look of a real wood window without the possibility of rot. Aluminum clad units and PVC units are as energy efficient as vinyl replacement windows. Even though these full units cost more than a vinyl replacement window, you will notice a huge difference in the appearance and will be glad you decided to pay a little extra.
A great way to add architectural interest to your home is to have casement windows installed. These windows look like picture windows, but they open very easily with a crank. Using casement windows helps you to eliminate the middle check rails on your double hung windows that obstruct your outside view. These windows do cost more than a standard double-hung window. If you plan on staying in your home for an extended period of time, you will be glad you chose these windows in the long run due to the ease of opening and closing.
The front entrance of your home should speak to the person about to open your door. It should say, "Welcome to our wonderful home!" You can make your door "speak" in many different ways. It can make or break the whole look of the front of your home.
Spending money to enhance the face of your home will certainly add value. If you have an old dented up 6 panel steel door unit, replace it with something more up-to-date and add a leaded glass design or an updated craftsman style panel door with a small amount of glass a the top.
For heavens sake, get rid of that old ugly storm door and treat yourself to a nice fiberglass door with no-rot jambs. Choose a door your house will appreciate! After all, your home is a reflection of you! Make sure that you invest on the no-rot jambs. It means EVERYTHING to the life of your door. You can expect to replace your door in 5-7 years if you install a door with a wood frame, unless you maintain it regularly. This goes for any product you put on your home. If you spend a little more money up front making sure that these products are rot-proof, you will spend less later on maintaining those products, and spend more time enjoying them.
The same mentality should also be used when choosing a professional contractor to install these products. I recommend a State-Licensed Contractor that will provide you with a written warranty on their installation. Make sure you check out their reviews on Kudzu or Angies List, or with the Better Business Bureau. You wouldn't ask a dentist to perform open-heart surgery. Make sure that your contractor has a proven track record for installing these quality products on your home. Yes, using a good contractor will also cost you more money, but you will be surprised at how much these professionals can help you save money in the long run by offering creative solutions to your window and door needs with their quality products and services. A good product is useless if not installed properly. So, find a good contractor that is familiar with their products and the benefits of using them and let them show you how paying a little more for quality now, will prevent you from having buyer's remorse later. You almost always get more when you pay more for home improvements, but you never get more for paying less.