When you’re looking for windows, whether it be replacing existing windows or new home construction, you soon find out there is a myriad of choices and styles that can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. Learning the basics of window frames and there many materials can help you make an informed decision when purchasing new windows.
Window frames conduct heat and therefore have different R-factors that are associated with differing materials. Advantages and disadvantages alike, each window frame material offers different thermal resistance, lower maintenance and varying price options.
Wood Frames More often than not, you’ve seen or possibly have wood frame windows. This classic design is cheap and chic but comes with heavy maintenance costs. Wood swells and shrinks with dry and wet conditions. Creating a perfect window operation only exists when perfect conditions outside exist. Prepare for some sticking unless they are properly installed; and that takes a more labor-intensive install time.
The good news is that wood window frames are eco friendly, can come from local materials and local manufacturers easier than conventional windows; lowering their carbon footprint. They also have a higher R-factor-making wood window frames a green choice.
Vinyl and Fiberglass Vinyl window frames are made from PVC or poly-vinyl chloride and a UV stabilizer is added to prevent damage from sunlight. Fiberglass is similar to vinyl except it is made from glass resins and epoxy, layered dimensionally for structural stability. PVC and fiberglass are very versatile window frame materials; however they are made using some very toxic processes.
The upside is that they do last virtually a lifetime with very little maintenance other than soap and water cleaning. Filled with insulative foam in the hollow cavities, vinyl and fiberglass window frames can be far superior in insulative qualities to wood and composite windows frames.
Composite Made from waste wood oriented particulates and heavy structural resins and glues, composite window frames offer a greener window frame than conventional wood. Better structural strength, lees rot and decay and high insulative properties make composites a better choice than wood. However the price is often higher, while maintenance remains the same.
Aluminum Old school and fading fast, aluminum windows are often a poor choice due to their high ability to conduct heat from sunlight. While they are strong and light, metal makes a poor insulative material, especially without a thermal break-a plastic or vinyl strip that separates the outside sash from the inside sash.
Always hire a qualified window replacement contractor and do a little research before investing in any window replacement project. A little knowledge can go a long way and just might save you a bundle of cash.