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Community and Q&A

Window choices in Vancouver, BC

Alex P | Posted in General Questions on

I am in the process of designing a small 980sq ft home near Vancouver. I’m aiming to build to step 5 on the new step code, essentially close to passive standards. The time has come to decide on windows and its one of the areas I’m least knowledgeable. Do any members have advice on manufacturers or window lines available in the area, or even Canada that strike a balance between price and performance?
I have have alwaysaassumed and associated high performance/efficiency buildings with triple pane windows but is that a valid assumption? What would I give up with a high quality double pane window? Are there any features I should be looking for?

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  1. Malcolm Taylor | | #1


    How far you go with the windows is in large part by two factors. What percentage of the exterior walls they represent, and what the R (or RSI up here) value of the walls is.

    If the windows represent a large part of the walls, it may make more sense to put in higher performing ones. And similarly, if the windows represent a large part of your heat loss, there isn't as much sense in going nuts on well performing walls.

    These sorts of decisions are a lot easier if you model the building performance. Then you can make informed choices based on both trade-offs and cost.

    1. Alex P | | #3

      Thanks Malcolm, I was hoping you would see this! Over half our windows are south east facing. The designer wants me to select a manufacturer before modelling performance, I had assumed he would be doing something similar to what you suggest with a few manufacturers.

      1. Malcolm Taylor | | #5


        I'm reluctant to chime in on anything more than general terms as I've not been particularly happy with any of the windows I've used over the years. They have all been fine, but nothing you would want in a high-performance house like you are describing.

        Over the past several years there have been a couple of Passive-H0use projects from the Lower Mainland and Island here on GBA, and some discussion about good Canadian manufacturers. That might be where to start. Sorry I can't be of more help.

        1. Alex P | | #7

          Innotech, Westek, Fenstur, Cascadia and Euroline were all suggested to me by a dependable resource as having a window line suitable for our project. Do you have any experience with these manufacturers? What issues have you noted with those you have installed?

  2. Scott Wilson | | #2

    Well, you need an egress window in each bedroom (and probably bathrooms where there is only one exit door). These have code mandated sizes. You also need to decide on the frame material (metal clad, vinyl, wood or fiberglass). Each material expands and contracts at a different rate but fiberglass seems to change in size the least (this helps prevent the seal between the glass panes and the window frame from cracking).

    One thing I have read in articles on this site is that people tend to put in too many operable windows. One is sufficient for smaller rooms and probably two for larger rooms (cross ventilation). All the rest can be fixed (and much cheaper).

    Euroline in North Vancouver is a good company that makes fiberglass framed windows.

    1. Alex P | | #4

      Thanks Scott, that's a great point and now I look at the plans I think we have more operable windows than we need. I will look in to that some more, as well as Euroline. Thank you

  3. Kathryn Oseen-Senda | | #6

    I'm pretty much in the same boat. I was starting to look at Cascadia windows as well as Zola. Thankfully, I only have a few windows to replace, so it won't break the budget if I pay a little extra. I do worry that if I get a triple pane, I won't be able to operate the windows. I can't change the size, because these windows are replacements, so that may end up being the deciding factor.

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