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Home addition features Marvin Elevate sliding French doors that open from the kitchen onto the deck

Buying a Window, Door or Skylight.

Choosing the right window, door or skylight can be a complex process with lots of variables and information to sort through. Not only is there curb appeal to consider, but maintenance and energy efficiency are important for your well being.

If your window replacement is for a Southern exposure you may want to consider an ENERGY STAR® rated product with Low-E glazing. On the other hand a Western facing front door without an overhang is going to be punished by the elements and require regular maintenance. And these are just a few of the things you’ll consider prior to making a purchase.

With that in mind, we’ve asked our experts and put together some of the best advice on buying a window, door or skylight.

Buyers Guide cover features a kitchen with single-hung windows from the Marvin Signature Collection

How to choose a window, door or skylight

How to Choose a Window

Farm style kitchen fills with light from three Marvin casement windows over the sink

What to consider when buying windows

Windows provide light, ventilation and a view outside. Energy efficient windows help control heating and cooling as an integral part of a passive solar home design. Installing new energy efficient windows will enhance the look of your home and improve your personal comfort while controlling the noise of the city.

If you are planning windows for new construction it’s important to select, orient and size glass to minimize solar heat gain in the summer and maximize it in the winter.

Style & Function

There are basically six window styles to choose from; Single- and Double-Hung, Casement, Sliding or Glider, Fixed or Picture Window, Awning (opens bottom), and Hopper (opens top). Generally when choosing a window the way a window looks and functions should be in keeping with the architectural style of your home and your personal taste.

Double hung window diagram


A common window design where both sashes slide vertically in a double-hung window and only the bottom sash slides upward in a single-hung window.

Casement window diagram


Hinged at the sides and opening outward, casements generally have a tight seal because the sash closes securely by pressing against the window frame minimizing air leakage.

Sliding window diagram


Also known as a slider, this window type opens horizontally. In a single sliding window only one sash slides horizontally and both sashes slide horizontally in a double sliding window.

Picture window diagram

Fixed / Picture

A large picture window is great for enjoying a spectacular view or keeping an eye on the kids in the backyard. Fixed panes don’t open, they are airtight and come in many shapes and sizes.

Awning window diagram


Hinged at the top and opening outward at the bottom. Awning windows have a tight seal because the sash closes by pressing against the frame.

Hopper window diagram


Hinged at the bottom and opening inward at the top. Like awning and casement windows, the sash closes by pressing against the frame forming a tight seal.

Fixed windows can be used in combination with other window styles should your design include a wall of windows or you require room ventilation.
Weather tight seal of ENERGY STAR rated window with wood interior, double glazing and divided lites


The type of material used in the construction of the window frame determines how the window will perform, how long it will last, and how it looks on the inside and outside. Frame materials in use today are wood, fiberglass, aluminum and vinyl. Keep in mind each material insulates differently and contributes to the overall energy efficiency of the window.

Some window manufacturers use a combination of materials, like a wood interior for appearance and a fiberglass exterior for durability and low maintenance. Exterior cladding is also available for wood and some vinyl windows, providing additional protection from the elements with virtually no maintenance required.

  • ENERGY STAR® Rated Windows
  • - Help reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
  • - Deliver savings on energy costs.
  • - Provide more personal comfort.
  • - Windows create less condensation.
  • - Furnishings protected from sun damage.
Milgard Tuscany single hung windows installed in this kitchen


Features and upgrades can add that custom look or personal touch to any window project. You can bring out the best of a window design and add curb appeal by adding grills or divided lites. And your choice of hardware can provide ease of operational use and compliment your décor. Upgrades can also include glazing options, exotic wood species and finishes from prefinished to primed and ready to paint.

With so many things to consider when choosing a window or patio door, it’s nice to know that our window and door experts are familiar with the products we carry and are just a phone call or email away.

Natural look of wood in this Craftsman style kitchen with Andersen windows and sliding glass door

Architectural Style

This open floor plan kitchen takes advantage of the natural light provided by the double-hung windows. Divided lights on the upper sash of the window mimic the glass cabinet doors and the wood finish is in keeping with the Craftsman style.

Marvin multi slide window wall installed in bedroom

Multi Slide

This modern residence features two multi slide window wall systems in the bedroom forming a corner. Window wall systems can slide or fold to open, allowing for more natural light, ventilation and views with floor to ceiling access to the outdoors.

Marvin Elevate Sliding French Doors open onto large deck

Sliding French Doors

This kitchen off the deck features maximum light, good ventilation and optimal views. Three sets of sliding French patio doors were combined with fixed transom windows to create a wall of windows that compliments the style of the home.

Visit Windows & Patio Doors to learn more.

Ask About ENERGY STAR logo


ENERGY STAR® qualified windows and doors do more than just lower your energy costs. They deliver comfort, create less condensation, and protect your furnishings from sun damage better than conventional clear-glass double-glazed alternatives.

ENERGY STAR® windows use the latest in dual-pane glass technology; including Low-E coatings, inert gas fills and edge spacer technology to maximize your heating and cooling.

Learn more at the ENERGY STAR® website

Products with the Energy Star® label tell you the product is energy efficient. Products with the NFRC label help you compare between energy efficient products by breaking down a products energy performance.

Use Performance Ratings to help determine Energy Efficiency

NFRC Certified label for windows

NFRC Label

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is an independent organization responsible for establishing benchmark performance ratings for energy efficient Windows, Doors and Skylights.

The NFRC Certified label allows consumers to compare energy efficient products across the board by measuring and rating the U-Factor, Visible Transmission, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient and Air Leakage.


The U-Factor measures how well a product can keep heat from escaping from the inside of a room. The lower the number, the better a product is at keeping heat in.
Range: 0.20–1.20

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measures how well a product can resist unwanted heat gain. The lower the number, the less you’ll spend on summer cooling.
Range: 0–1

Visible Transmittance

The Visible Transmittance measures how well a product is designed to effectively light your home with daylight. The higher the number, the more natural light is let in.
Range: 0–1

Air Leakage

The Air Leakage measures how much air will enter a room through a product. The lower the number, the fewer drafts you’ll experience.
Range: ≤ 0.3

Window & Door / Millwork

Monday to Friday   7 am to 5 pm
Closed Saturday

☎ Window & Door   510 437-1199

How to Choose a Door

Craftsman style home with Therma-Tru fiberglass door with divided lites, transom and sidelites

What to consider when buying an exterior entry door

When buying an entry door there are a few things we feel you should consider before making a purchase. Entry doors tend to get lots of wear and tear, especially if you have a big family, so it’s important to look at construction and finish. Also the effects of weather and your exposure to the elements, with or without an overhang, can play a big role in how long the door will last and how much annual maintenance it will require.

Clean lines and crisp angles compliment the sleek, modern look of the Pulse Series fiberglass door

Energy Efficiency

Entry doors tend to be better insulators than windows and there are fewer of them so your energy savings may be less than you think. Fiberglass doors typically have energy efficient cores and provide more insulating value than wood doors.

ENERGY STAR® rated doors generally have tighter fitting frames that prevent air leaks and models with glass have double-pane insulating glass to reduce heat transfer.

The takeaway, doors are a small part of the exterior surface area of your house and heat loss in general comes from around the door and not through it.

The front door is what you see when entering your house and maybe you want to make a statement or enhance the architectural style.
Private front entry features an oversized contemporary all wood exterior French door

Wood Doors

Exterior doors are generally made from wood and can provide that high-end look and solid feel when you open and close. Wood doors are traditionally built using stile and rail construction, in a variety of hard and soft woods, including Walnut, Cherry, Pine and Fir. Wood is resistant to dents and scratches can easily be repaired. Wood doors however require regular maintenance depending on their exposure to keep them looking sharp.

Wood doors are also available FSC® certified and ENERGY STAR® rated should your project require LEED points or green building certification.

Therma-Tru fiberglass door detail shows the rich simulated wood grain and crisp detailing

Fiberglass Doors

A good choice for most entry doors is fiberglass because they look and feel like wood and resist the elements for any exposure. A fiberglass door is durable, resists wear, does not expand or contract, and uses a core material for strength and insulation. Doors come with a smooth surface or an embossed wood grain texture in an assortment of styles. Fiberglass doors are available pre-finished in some great colors or can be painted or stained, and require very little maintenance.

If you are looking for the look of wood, there are a variety of doors available that actually mimic the look and detail of real wood doors without the maintenance of wood.

Modern entry set in brass from Emtek is part of the Urban Modern Series

Door Hardware

There is a wide selection of door hardware available to bring design and function to your front door. Choose from the traditional knobs, levers and pulls for that hand-feel to deadbolts, locksets and electronic locks with the latest in welcome home technology.

In keeping with the style of your home, manufacturers and foundries provide a range of customizable solutions in architectural styles and finishes to fit your budget. From stamped metal to hand forged brass assembled by craftsman one at a time, your door hardware says a lot about you.

With family members coming and going, you may want to look into the latest in keyless entry systems and electronic locks that use a keypad, touchscreen or cell phone to control entry.

Visit Entry & Interior Doors to learn more.

Low-E heading

Low-Emissivity or Low-E insulating glass helps reduce energy consumption while keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In summer Low-E glass reflects the sun’s energy preventing it from transferring heat into your home, while in the winter Low-E glass reduces heat loss by reflecting it back into the house.

Low-E coatings are invisible, microscopically thin layers of metal or metallic oxide applied directly to the surface of the glass to control heat transfer through insulated glass. Windows with Low-E coatings perform very well in colder weather (U-Factor) and have enhanced performance in summer (SHGC - Solar Heat Gain Coefficient).

When choosing windows the U-Factor is the insulating quality that keeps you warm in cold weather and the lower the number the better the window is at keeping heat in. The SHGC is the reflective quality that keeps you cooler in the summer by keeping solar heat out and the lower the number the better the window is at blocking the sun. How much light a window lets in is the VT or Visible Transmittance and the higher the number the more light you will see.

How to Choose a Skylight

The vaulted ceiling in this modern kitchen features three Velux skylights

What to consider when buying a skylight

Skylights can be a wonderful addition to your home, filling a space with natural light or adding ventilation and dimension to any room they are installed in. There are a few basic types to consider and each one may serve a different function in your living space.

Modern kitchen design includes VELUX Venting Skylights for fresh air and natural light

Venting Skylights

An operable skylight will vent a bathroom or any room of hot stale air that accumulates near the ceiling and provide fresh air by creating airflow within your home. These skylights can be manually operated with a rod or a crank, or solar powered with electric options available so all you have to do is flip a switch to open or close. Automatic sensors can also be incorporated to trigger the skylight to open and vent when it’s too hot and close when it starts to rain.

This remodel daylighted a dark room by installing a VELUX skylight over the bed for natural light

Fixed Skylights

Fixed skylight can change the character of a room by adding a sense of spaciousness and natural light to a dark interior. Keep in mind the type of light shaft used will determine the type of light entering a room — flared provides the most amount of light while straight will add drama. Excess light can be controlled by adding a screen or louvers, and some skylights are available with built-in light filtering blinds controlled by a solar powered push button or manual operation.

Living room filled with light and views is complemented by the natural wood ceiling with skylights

Energy Efficiency

Skylights are rated just like windows for energy efficiency and manufacturers use various technologies like heat-absorbing tints, insulated glazing, and Low-E coatings to control heat transfer and UV radiation to reduce fabric and floor fading. In general the skylight size should never be more than 5% of the floor area in a room with many windows. We will work with you to determine what your options are to maximize daylighting and passive solar heating potential.

VELUX Skylight installed on tile roof


Skylight glazing is either glass or plastic and your choice will depend on expected performance and your budget. Plastic glazing is usually acrylic or polycarbonate and is the least expensive and is less likely to break. Plastic surfaces tend to scratch easily and they may become brittle and discolored over time. Skylights using glass glazing are generally more costly and have the added advantages of durability and lack of discoloration with age.

Visit Skylights & Solar Tubes to learn more.



★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Exterior view of Jeld-Wen Siteline double-hung window

Window & Door Service

If you’re an architect, builder or homeowner thinking about remodeling then our personalized Window & Door Service is tailored to meet your needs. You can come to our showroom, meet us and see product samples, or we can come to your office, home or job site.

Our Millwork professionals will work with you to come up with the best solution to fit your project while keeping with the architectural character of your home, lifestyle and budget. Whether buying for new construction, renovation or replacing those double-hungs, you’ll get a Hassle-Free Estimate based on your project with no obligation.

ENERGY STAR® is a government program that helps consumers protect the environment through superior energy efficiency and is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Economy Lumber Company - Lumber & Wood Products Catalog PDF cover

Lumber & Wood Catalog

Our Lumber & Wood Catalog is a handy, downloadable PDF that’s an easy reference guide to the type of Lumber and Wood we inventory, including the sizes and grades. We also list the common Building Materials we stock, the Window & Door Brands we carry and the Contractor Services we offer.

Lumber & Wood Catalog PDF
Economy Lumber Company
Lumber & Wood Catalog

8 pages / 3.3MB PDF

Antique Sargent & Co. hand plane
Since 1935

We’ve been helping builders since 1935

Give us a call or send us an email and tell us what you need. We carry and can source a wide range of lumber and building materials geared for the professional.

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