When the time comes to replace your home windows, one of the biggest decisions you are going to have to make is picking out a material for your window frames. You may have spent a lot of time envisioning how you will adorn your windows (what types of curtains or blinds you will choose, etc.), but if you’ve never given frames much thought, you may be wondering how big of a decision this really is, or how many material options you really have.
Aside from the aesthetic that window frames will add to your home, frames play such a large role in the integrity of your windows – they are the foundation that holds everything together. They contribute in large part window insulation, security, energy efficiency, and home value. So, while it may be tempting to choose the frame material that seems most visually suited to your tastes, there are a few important factors you should consider in terms of window durability and lifespan.
If you’re noticing your current windows are failing and you’re in the market for replacement windows, we’re here to help walk you through different options and help you make an educated decision for your home.
We know these decisions can be stressful, so let’s explore some of the different window framing material options together, their pros and cons, and why you may decide to go with one over the others.
6 Types of Window Frame Materials
Wood is a natural material that can enhance the beauty of your home. If your goal is a natural-looking aesthetic, you may consider wood window frames for a traditional appearance. Wood is a natural resource that is pretty durable, stands the test of time, and is easy to cut into different sizes; but it does have its downfalls.
– Good for customization, as wood can be easily cut and painted.
– Does not allow for condensation buildup as much as other materials.
– Offers a good amount of insulation and a sound barrier.
– Provides a traditional, beautiful aesthetic.
– Compared to other materials, wood is more susceptible to rotting.
– Wood is a vulnerable material that can become home to insects.
– Higher maintenance; requiring re-painting, caulking, and cleaning upkeep.
– May be expensive.
Vinyl window frames have quickly become one of the most popular options available on the market these days and for good reason. Vinyl window frames are composed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is a material commonly used in a number of household and plumbing products. Vinyl window frames are a durable, sustainable, and strong option that is easy to clean and maintain; making them an excellent choice. Vinyl will not dull or fade over time, and it is an affordable option.
– Extremely energy-efficient material, enhancing the function of Energy Star rated windows.
– Airtight, ensuring no air enters or escapes your home to help regulate temperatures.
– Very low maintenance and easy to clean, unlike other materials.
– Extremely long lifespan of 15-20 years.
– Highly resistant to rotting and corrosion.
– Resistant to UV rays.
– Very affordable compared to other materials.
– Less customization available as vinyl cannot be painted.
– Vinyl cannot be recycled at the end of its life.
Aluminum window frames give off a very sleek looking appearance. Compared to other materials, they do not require much upkeep and are a strong choice. Because aluminum is lightweight, its strength can accommodate larger panes of glass to allow more natural light into your home. Keep in mind that of the material choices, aluminum performs the poorest when it comes to energy efficiency and insulation.
– Allows for the creation of unique shapes and more customization when it comes to fit (aluminum is easy to manipulate).
– Durable, lightweight, and easy to install.
– Frame can be fairly narrow, allowing for more glass area and an expanded view.
– Aluminum is not a good insulator, making it the least energy-efficient material choice.
– It is common for moisture to become trapped inside aluminum window frames.
– Can be prone to corrosion depending on where you live.
Fiberglass window frames are made from a combination of resin and reinforced glass fibers with a foam-filled core, producing a durable end result. They are aesthetically pleasing and are similar in appearance to wood windows. Fibreglass window frames are also highly energy-efficient, although they tend to be on the pricier side.
– Extremely energy-efficient and insulating due to their foam-filled core.
– Resistant to flaking, peeling, rotting, mold, and corrosion.
– Can withstand extreme temperature changes without expanding or warping.
– Eco-friendly and recyclable.
– Fewer customization options are available in terms of hardware and colour.
– Installation can take longer.
– Fibreglass window frames have a higher cost.
Window frames that are wood-clad mean that the frame is solid wood covered by a fiberglass or aluminum exterior. The combination of two materials provides the option for frames that look like they are wooden, without the maintenance that comes with fully wood frames.
– Less maintenance than fully wood-framed windows.
– Many colour and customization options.
– With proper care and maintenance, these windows provide longevity.
– Good in the durability department and are visually appealing.
– Wood-clad window frames can often be more expensive than alternative options.
– Over time, the cladding may become weak and actually separate.
Talk about combination! Composite window frames are made by combining metal, vinyl, and wood. The idea is that the combination of materials will provide you with the “pro” aspects of each in order to create a sturdy window frame. Think of it as a happy compromise between all three. Composite windows look more like wood but perform more like vinyl.
– Resistant to moisture damage, rotting, and frame warping.
– Flexibility when it comes to customization, as composite frames can be painted.
– Environmentally friendly frame options.
– Composite window frames are a pricey option compared to their counterparts.
– Durability varies depending on manufacturing.
Which Window Is Right for Me?
Now that you know a bit about the pros and cons of the most popular window-framing materials, it is time to decide where your priorities lie. Are you seeking out aesthetics, affordability, energy-efficiency, or something else? It’s important to weigh each window option against what you’re seeking.
In general, vinyl window frames are a well-rounded option that covers a lot of the points you may be looking for without breaking the bank – hence their popularity! From price, to look, to maintenance and energy-efficiency, vinyl is a great material to consider.
Experts in Residential Window Replacements
Making a decision can be easier when you have an expert with many years of experience to help guide you. At Simpson Windows and Doors, we’re here to help make your window replacement and installation process easy. Let’s chat about your needs and priorities so we can better steer you towards your ideal new home windows!