Serving Bay Area Building Professionals Since 1898

South City Lumber & Supply Company

650 588-5711

Monday - Friday 6:30 am - 5 pm
Saturday 8 am - 3 pm

Open living area features Marvin windows and French doors

Window, Door and Skylight Buyer’s Guide

The name brands in one place

We asked our experts and then put together some of the best advice on buying a window, door or skylight. We know choosing the right product can be a complex process with lots of information and variables to sort through. If you have any questions, we are here to help.

Our Window & Door Services include Onsite or In-home Consultation, Plan Takeoff, Millwork and Delivery.

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How to Choose

Window • Door • Skylight

The cover of our Buyers Guide features a modern home design with Marvin windows and doors


Marvin Elevate windows, including casement and picture windows are installed in this livingroom for views and increased ventilation

Buying a window

New windows will enhance the look of your home and improve your personal comfort through energy efficiency while controlling the noise of the city. Windows provide light, ventilation and a view beyond your walls.

Windows also control heating and cooling as an integral part of a passive solar home. Window type, orientation, glass area and shading are all factors that will influence your window performance.

A few things to consider

Architectural Style

The way a window looks and functions should be in keeping with the architectural style of your home and your personal taste. There are six traditional window styles to choose from: Single or Double Hung, Casement, Sliding or Glider, Awning, Hopper, and Fixed.

Double hung window graphic with call outs

Double Hung Window

The double hung window is still the most popular window in use today. In a double hung window the operation determines the style and both sashes slide vertically for top and bottom ventilation. In a single hung window only the bottom sash slides upward for bottom ventilation. Prior to 1950 the counter balance was an iron sash weight with pullies and a cord. After 1950 spring balance.

Casement window graphic with call outs

Casement Window

The Casement Window is one of the earliest forms of a movable window within a wood or metal frame. AKA the crank window, casements function much like a door with hinges on the frame upright and opening to the inside or outside. Very energy efficient, casements create a tight seal when the sash closes securely against the window frame minimizing air leakage.

Sliding window graphic

Sliding Window

Originally called the Yorkshire window in the UK. Sliding windows were simply interlocking wooden frames with glass that slid past each other. In a single sliding window only one sash slides horizontally and both sashes slide horizontally in a double sliding window. A double slider with left and right sliders and a large picture window in the center offers great views with easy access to fresh air and minimal operational space.

Awning window graphic

Awning Window

As the name implies, awning windows are hinged at the top and always open outward at the bottom, creating a little roof over the opening. Used alone or in combination with fixed windows to provide room ventilation. When closed awning windows form a weathertight seal when the sash is latched against the frame.

Hopper window graphic

Hopper Window

The hopper window is usually rectangular in shape and always opens to the inside. Hinged at the bottom and opening at the top, hopper windows can be installed high up on a wall, over a door, or combined above and below a large picture window for a modern look and great airflow. Like awning and casement windows, the sash closes by pressing against the frame forming a tight seal.

Picture window graphic

Fixed Window

Any non-operational window is considered fixed. Fixed window frames do not open making the window airtight and weather proof. Available in many shapes and sizes from a large picture window for a great view to a half round over a pair of double hung windows. A fixed window can also be used in combination with other window styles should your design include a wall of windows that connects with the outside environment.

Three casement windows are installed over the dual sinks in this bathroom


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 metal cladding is also available for wood and some vinyl windows providing additional protection from the elements with virtually no maintenance required.

Window latch installed on single hung window


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

A window corner detail of a Marvin Elevate window showing the simulated divided lites, spacer bar and double glazing with an unfinished Pine interior and Ultrex fiberglass exterior

When it comes to buying windows or patio doors for new construction or window replacement, look to our ENERGY STAR® rated products to deliver greater personal comfort and energy efficiency. By using the latest in dual-pane glass technology; including Low-E coatings, inert gas fills and edge spacer technology, ENERGY STAR® rated products will keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

  • ENERGY STAR® Rated Windows
  • - Reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
  • - Save money on energy costs.
  • - Deliver more personal comfort.
  • - Windows create less condensation.
  • - Protect furnishings from sun damage

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 (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) is the reflective quality that keeps you cooler in the summer by keeping solar heat out, 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.

Low-E graphic

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).

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.

South City Lumber & Supply Co. vintage metal sign with the words lumber, concrete, millwork, hardware

South City Lumber & Supply Co.

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.

Entry Door

Red contemporary style front fiberglass entry door with lite and sidelite installed in this modern house

Buying an 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 maintenance it will require.

A few things to consider

Energy Efficiency

Entry doors are better insulators than windows, and there are fewer of them so your energy savings may be less than you think. Fiberglass doors typically have more insulating value than solid wood doors. Additionally, ENERGY STAR® rated doors generally have tighter fitting frames that prevent air leaks, energy-efficient cores if they have one, and models with glass have double-pane insulating glass to reduce heat transfer. The take away, 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.


We carry a wide range of door manufacturers and they offer doors in a variety of materials and construction types.

Simpson wood entry door with divided lites and matching sidelites for a Craftsman style entryway in this Cedar shingled home

Wood Door

Wood is still the choice for a high-end look and for making a statement as you enter your home. A solid wood door has that handcrafted touch and is the best at resisting wear, the least likely to dent and a scratch can easily be repaired. A wood door also requires regular maintenance to keep it 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 Door

Fiberglass is a good choice for most entry doors and they come with a smooth surface or an embossed wood grain texture in an assortment of styles. A fiberglass door resists wear, does not expand or contract, and uses a core material for strength and insulation. Fiberglass doors are available pre-finished in some great colors or can be painted or stained, and require little maintenance. And if you are looking for the look of wood, there are a variety of styles available that actually mimic the look of real wood.

The curb appeal of this Craftsman style fiberglass door with divided lites, and transom and sidelites with decorative glass enhance the wide porch

Curb Appeal

When you customize or upgrade a door, you make it your own personal statement and compliment the architectural style of your home. Door styles are available from French country to modern living, and feature panel designs and glass options like divided lites or decorative glass, along with sidelites and transoms for that complete front porch look. So live a little and let your front entry door say a lot about you, and if you can’t find anything you like then you can always build a one-of-a-kind custom door.

We are here to help with your door selection and show you the various doors and entry options available for your home, budget and lifestyle. Give us a call or send us an email — we’d love to meet you.


VELUX venting skylights are controlled through a smartphone app for room ventilation

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.

A few things to consider

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, 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.

Living room filled with light and views is complemented by the natural wood pitched ceiling and three VELUX Skylights

Venting Skylights

An operable skylight will vent a room of hot, stale air that accumulates near the ceiling, providing fresh air and creating airflow within your home. These skylights can be manually operated with a rod or a crank if accessible, or with solar powered and electric options 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.

Upstairs bedroom takes advantage of the roof pitch to install a VELUX fixed skylight for natural daylighting

Fixed Skylights

Fixed skylights when installed properly are air- and water-tight and can change the character of a room by adding a sense of spaciousness and natural light to a dark interior. Excess light can be controlled by adding a screen or louvers, and some skylights are available with built-in light filtering blinds with solar powered push button or manual operation. Also, keep in mind the type of light shaft used will determine the type of light entering a room – flared will provide the most amount of light, straight or shaft-less for drama.

Fixed skylight installed in tile roof


Skylight glazing is made either of 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 less likely to break. However, plastic surfaces scratch easily, and they may become brittle and discolored over time. Skylights using glass glazing are generally more costly, but have the added advantages of durability and lack of discoloration with age.

Whether you are looking to purchase a skylight or you’re thinking about lighting a dark interior space — talk to us, our experts are product knowledgeable and ready to help.

Our Window & Door Services include Onsite Consultation, Plan Takeoff, Millwork and Delivery.



★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Modern house features Marvin picture windows
Window & Door Consultation

We feel the best way to purchase a window or door product is through our free onsite or in-home consultation service. Our experienced professionals will work with you to come up with the best window and/or door solution to fit your project while keeping with the architectural character of your home, your 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.

We recently purchased a Therma-Tru Steel/Fiberglass door through South City Lumber. Working with Erika Lopez throughout the spec and order process was a delight! She was courteous, knowledgable, prompt and was spot on with the time estimate for delivery. We are THRILLED with the product and would highly recommend working with South City Lumber for ALL your home improvement needs!   ★★★★★   Jerry C.

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.

Builders & Homeowners

If you require pricing on a list of project materials, large or small, you can submit your list to us and we will produce a time-sensitive quote.

We also offer Plan Take-off services where, based on a set of plans or drawings, we will provide a comprehensive list of materials with amounts. A time-sensitive quote will then be created from this tally.

Living room windows feature the double hung sash replacement kit from Marvin

Replacement Windows

Choosing the right replacement window can make all of the difference in a room. From energy efficiency and personal comfort, to low maintenance and the look and feel. Visit our Window & Patio Door page to learn more.

Crystal Cabinet Works kitchen featuring custom wood cabinetry in an open floor plan design with an island

Custom Cabinetry

Get great design and the look you want with the Current line of cabinetry from Crystal Cabinet Works. Features include wood cabinets with a wide selection of door styles, finishes and storage accessories. Visit our Custom Cabinets page to learn more.

Forklift driver carrying a bundle of Doug Fir 2x4's

Bay Area Delivery

We deliver everything we sell, from framing lumber and plywood to hardware and fasteners. Whether you need a one-time delivery for your home improvement project or you’re a contractor and need curbside delivery to your job site, we can deliver. Visit our page to learn more.

Cover of South City Lumber & Supply Lumber & Wood Lumber Catalog PDF

Lumber & Wood Catalog

Our Lumber & Wood Catalog is a handy, easy to use six page reference guide to the type of lumber and wood products we inventory. Included are the sizes and lumber grades available, the building materials stocked, and the Contractor Services we offer.

Lumber & Wood Catalog

6 pages / 1.5MB PDF

Antique Sargent & Co. hand plane
Since 1898

How can we help ?

Give us a call or send us an email — we carry a wide range of lumber and wood products, builders supply, building materials and hardware for the professional contractor.

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