Not all windows are alike. In fact, the many combinations of materials, glass options, locking systems, shapes and sizes available today make it easier than ever to get the window you want. But it can also be more difficult to make the best decision about important replacement window features.
One of the most important choices you will have to make is the material which makes up the frame and sash of your new windows. Certainly, thermal glass packages and improved weather stripping are essential for a window to be truly energy efficient. But a properly engineered frame and sash, made of right material, give the window its structural rigidity and add to the overall energy performance.
Here are the most common materials used in building today’s windows, with the benefits (and drawbacks) of each.
- Vinyl Windows – Although the technology is only about 25 years old, window frames and sashes made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are the most popular in America today. Vinyl windows are highly weather resistant, offer excellent insulating values, and are virtually maintenance-free. Because they can be formed in any shape and size, vinyl windows are generally custom-sized and can fit any home. While a hollow vinyl frame offers good insulation, some newer vinyl windows come with insulation filled frames, which makes them thermally superior to standard vinyl and wood frames.
- Wood Windows – Wood frames are aesthetically pleasing and can present a natural look and feel. Wood offers some insulating value, but many newer wood windows must be clad with an external covering of aluminum or vinyl for protection and durability. Wood windows without cladding require regular maintenance, and can expand and contract with variations in temperature. Wood can be painted, but the exterior surfaces can chip, crack and peel, and must be scraped and repainted every few years.
- Aluminum Windows – At one time, aluminum windows were among the most advanced available. They are more durable and lighter than wood, but have poor insulation properties, allowing heat and cold to pass through easily. Some newer aluminum windows include a vinyl or rubber insert to help slow energy loss.
- Fiberglass Windows – Nearly as rigid as aluminum, fiberglass windows offer similar durability to vinyl frames. Made up of glass fibers mixed with a bonding agent, fiberglass windows require little maintenance. Fiberglass frames are susceptible to nicks and colors can fade after exposure to direct sunlight.
- Composite Windows – Some manufacturers are combining a variety of materials in an attempt to create a “better” window. You can find composites make up of wood chips, particleboard and laminated strand lumber. They have similar properties as standard wood windows, but are generally more resistant to moisture.
Which replacement window is right for your home? Call Rescom at (866) 410-5884 to schedule a free, in-home consultation. We’ll go over your options and help you choose the best windows for your home, your budget and your family.