In Northern California, we love variety, from our food choices to our clothing styles and even the types of houses we live in. In our region, our homes are as diverse as we are, from the old Victorians that pepper Downtown Sacramento to the mid-century houses you find when you drive up through Citrus Heights toward Roseville.
Different styles of homes, though, are much like different brands of cars: they have unique needs based on how they’re made. Think about it like this, you wouldn’t put plain unleaded gasoline in a high-performance truck or sports car—and you certainly wouldn’t get a giant spoiler for street racing installed on your family sedan. At least, I hope not.
Houses are similar in this way. What works well for a stucco ranch won’t necessarily work for a two-story Victorian. And one area of the home where this is most true is new window installation—especially window installation for brick houses.
Having new windows installed in a brick house isn’t difficult, but there are some unique challenges, challenges that you can easily be overcome if you do your homework and plan for them ahead of time. And you definitely should. Having new windows installed in your home can add value, curb appeal, and sunlight. Those kinds of benefits make it more than worthwhile to overcome the special challenges that come along with window installation for brick houses.
Materials Matter When Considering New Window Installation for Your Brick House
When it comes to pro tips for window replacement or installation, I always say that the place to start is with picking the type of windows you want and need. Just like for traditional wood or stucco houses, double-pane windows will increase energy efficiency in your brick home and triple pane windows may be worth the extra cost, depending on your unique circumstances. The most important choice you’ll likely make, then, when undergoing a new window installation for your brick house is concerning the frames.
Brick has a traditional style that can clash visually with some frame materials that boast a more modern look. Also, keep in mind that we do live in Northern California where our Mediterranean climate brings pretty intense sun throughout the summer months. Whether or not frames conduct heat easily is something you must consider.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look our options:
- Aluminum or metal frames: I recommend disregarding aluminum or metal frame options. They’re strong and light, which is a benefit, but when hit by direct sunlight, they rapidly conduct heat into your home, raising the temperature and making your AC run longer and less efficiently. This is bad news in sunny Northern California where power rates are rising. They’re also considered to be a poor pairing with brick because aluminum and metal frames tend to have a more modern look that clashes with a brick home’s traditional aesthetic.
- Wooden frames: Wooden frames are a great complement for brick veneers given their classic nature. They also provide much better insulation than metal ones, as they don’t conduct heat well. They are, however, problematic with brick because they tend to expand and contract as the outside temperature changes throughout the year. These frequent changes in size can lead to breaks in the seal, which is a concern with brick in particular because you can’t easily modify the size of the opening without extensive work. Brick just isn’t all that flexible. I mean, there’s a reason the big bad wolf couldn’t blow it down, after all.
- Fiberglass frames: Fiberglass window frames get my strongest recommendation for residents of Northern California having windows installed in brick houses. Fiberglass makes for a stable frame that includes an air cavity that can be filled with insulation material that doesn’t require modifying the actual size of the opening. I suggest working with an experienced window installation expert who can make sure you get the perfect window-insulation combo for your home.
The Only Installation Method for Window Installation Projects on Brick Homes
The biggest caveat to having new windows installed or replaced in a brick home is that it simply has to be a custom job. With stucco or wood-framed homes, you have some leeway; if a standard window you buy doesn’t fit, you can easily modify the size of the window opening in your house and then paint over whatever material you added. The problem with brick is that new brick will stand out against aged brick. I’m sure you’ve seen buildings that have both. You can always tell by looking at them that some of the wall has been replaced. To be blunt, if you end up having to replace some of the brick and mortar from your home in order to get new windows to fit, it’s going to be obvious.
I can admit that brick is a little higher maintenance than other housing materials, just like a Corvette is higher maintenance than a Jeep. These challenges, however, aren’t such a big deal when you work with a window company that has experience with the material. A trained window installation pro can undertake the painstaking and almost-surgical custom installation process, while also making sure that the new window is a perfect fit, rather than one that leaves drafts and leaks.
Get help with a window installation project for your brick house from the local experts at Bell Brothers today! They can also assess your windows for energy efficiency—as well as your HVAC system, plumbing, insulation, and more.
Considering financing for new windows—or a furnace and your plumbing? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.
Image courtesy Unsplash user Annie Spratt