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What’s the Best Material For Replacement Window Frames?

Thursday, February 15 2018 11:29 AM

RInterior wood window frameseplacement windows can make a dramatic difference in any home, both the interior and exterior. Whether you want to improve your home’s curb appeal or reap the benefits of energy efficiency, it’s important to know your options when it comes to window frames. While most people focus on the type of glass or the style of the window they want to choose, there are also six choices to consider when it comes to the window frame material. Which one will you choose?

1. Wood

Wood is a more traditional choice for window frames as it’s been used for centuries. However, as technology has evolved, more homeowners are opting for other materials.

Wood is generally chosen for its beauty because it can be stained to match any existing woodwork. Wood can be a strong and warm material that provides hard-to-beat thermal performance and aesthetic benefits. In addition to staining, you can also paint or customize the wood window frames as well.

The negative side of wood window frames is that the weather can wear them down rather quickly. Water exposure can cause the wood to rot while sunlight and heat can create cracks. The higher quality wood you choose, the better.

Another factor to consider is that wood window frames can expand and contract in response to weather conditions. They also require regular maintenance that should never be neglected.

2. Aluminum

Aluminum window frames are a wise choice for those who prefer a low-maintenance option. However, there are some drawbacks. Although aluminum is strong and inexpensive, it doesn’t insulate as well as other materials.

Compared with vinyl or wood frames, which fall within the 0.3 to 0.5 range, aluminum frames can have a U-value as high as 2. They also tend to feel cold to the touch and are prone to condensation.

To reduce heat flow and the U-factor, metal frames should have a thermal break, or an insulating plastic strip, placed between the inside and outside of the frame and sash.

3. Vinyl

As one of the most popular window frame materials, vinyl is a low-maintenance option that stands up to the test of time. Modern vinyl frames are designed to withstand the impact of harsh UV light. They are generally made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with ultraviolet light (UV) stabilizers to keep them from degrading due to sun exposure.

Vinyl is an affordable option that comes in a wide variety of colors and styles. But the biggest benefit of vinyl is how much insulation it provides. Vinyl window frames do not require painting and have good moisture resistance. Insulation can be placed in the hollow cavities of vinyl frames, which makes them thermally superior to standard vinyl and wood frames. 

Keep in mind that vinyl isn’t as strong as many other materials and can't be painted.

4. Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a popular, durable option that stands up to the elements and household use. It comes in many different colors and styles that can appeal to your personal tastes.

Fiberglass also requires very little maintenance and helps insulate your home well. It's one of the strongest materials for your window frames. The only downside of this new material is that it can be more expensive than other types of window frame materials.

5. Clad

Many people want the look of real wood windows without the drawbacks that come with it. Clad windows have a low-maintenance exterior while maintaining a beautiful wooden interior. In the simplest terms, the cladding is the protective exterior of a wood window.

Types of Clad Windows

Today, there are three major types of clad windows on the market:

  • Aluminum-clad windows are the strongest of all clad windows. Aluminum cladding boasts durability and cost-effectiveness, but they can be less energy efficient.

  • Vinyl-clad windows are the most popular form of clad windows available on the market today. Vinyl offers energy efficiency, affordability, and minimal maintenance. However, always choose a high-quality option as cheaper vinyl tends to chip and fade.

  • Fiberglass-clad windows are the newest type of clad windows on the market. Fiberglass-clad windows are extremely energy-efficient, low-maintenance, and durable.

The primary advantage of clad windows is that they combine the most desirable features of wood windows inside your home, with added protection from the elements on the exterior of your home.

6. Composites

Along with fiberglass window frames, composite window frames are also new to the market. The composite material looks like real wood but is made of various composite wood products, such as particleboard or laminated strand lumber. These composites are very stable and have great structural and thermal properties, as well as moisture and decay resistance.

Composite window frames can be painted to match your home’s decor, they’re eco-friendly and their price is in the moderate range.

If you have any questions about replacement windows, give us a call at (913) 649-1199. We’d be more than happy to assist you and provide you with a free estimate.

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