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Choosing Between Wood, Vinyl and Fiberglass Windows

11/11/2015

Category: Windows
Tags: vinyl window frames wood

window

Are you shopping for new windows? If so, you are probably overwhelmed with all the choices available on the home improvement market these days. There are casement windows, double-hung windows, awning windows, and many other styles to choose from. However, style, outside of the number of panes, doesn’t play a big role in how your window stands up to temperature changes and wear. This is why it’s important to look at what the window frame is made of before deciding on a specific product. Our Maryland window replacement experts are here to help you understand the difference between different window frame materials.

Wood Window Frames

Wood is what window frames were traditionally made of. It looks good and it’s fairly durable. However, a wooden window frame will require a bit of maintenance, such as painting, staining and other treatments to keep it protected from the elements. Painted wooden frames may eventually start peeling and will need a new coat of paint. You probably saw this happen more than once on older homes.

To reduce the amount of maintenance and protect the frame, manufacturers started to clad wooden window frames with aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass on the outside. This gives you the best of both worlds: the timeless look of wood on the inside and a solid barrier from the elements on the outside. Although wood-frame windows can be rather expensive, they are still one of the most popular choices among homeowners.

Vinyl Window Frames

Vinyl is a popular material for many home building supplies, and window frames are no exception. Vinyl window frames are a very affordable, no-frills, plain-jane solution no matter what style of windows you choose. However, if you are renovating a historic home or want to use special hardware, vinyl frames can be rather limiting. They also can’t be painted, so you have to manage with the color range your manufacturer offers.

The good news is that if you plan to hide your windows behind blinds and curtains anyway, you won’t be losing a lot in terms of performance and energy efficiency. Vinyl-frame windows are just as capable as their wooden counterparts, as long as they are properly installed.

Fiberglass Window Frames

Fiberglass is a fairly new material when it comes to window frame manufacturing. Therefore, there are not as many brands and choices of fiberglass frames available compared to wood and vinyl. However, many people still choose fiberglass for its strength, low maintenance and ability to hold large panes of glass.

Fiberglass window frames can also be painted, although it’s not necessary. Some models even have wood veneer on the inside, detailed enough to fool an unsuspecting guest. But one of the biggest benefits of fiberglass is probably its relative stability in response to temperature changes. Fiberglass contracts and expands at about the same rate as the glass, making your window more stable.

Aluminum Window Frames

Aluminum frames used to be a popular choice before vinyl came around. The main benefit of aluminum is that it’s light, yet strong, allowing for really slim frames. This is a great solution for large buildings or places where natural light has to be maximized. The key downside of aluminum is that it’s an energy conductor, which means it will transfer heat or cold from the outside in and vice versa, depending on the time of year. This is definitely counter-intuitive to saving energy.

And although aluminum can be painted or powder-coated, it’s prone to chipping which will be quite visible. Vinyl, on the other hand, is made from the same material throughout, making chips and scratches less visible.

Want to learn more about window frames or need help making a decision? Archway Remodeling will be happy to help! Give us a call or contact us online with any questions!

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