Versatile Window Frame Materials Meet Many Needs

April 22, 2010

Window frame materials are no longer limited to aluminum and wood, although these old stand-bys are still available and functional for many situations. Recent focus on energy savings and ease of maintenance has led to the popularity of new window frame materials, as well as some window frames made of multiple materials. When visiting window dealers, it's important to discuss your expectations of window performance and your price range for replacement windows and installation.

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Important Window Frame Materials

  • Aluminum: Aluminum is the least expensive window frame option, but it has little insulating power and in cold climates can lead to moisture condensation between window glass layers.
  • Fiberglass: The methods of constructing fiberglass window frames can cause structural weakness, and fiberglass windows are costly and available in limited colors. The good news is that they can be painted.
  • Vinyl: Versatile and inexpensive, vinyl window frames require little maintenance and never need painting. One drawback is that vinyl windows cannot be painted, so if you're buying vinyl windows, choose a neutral frame color.
  • Wood: A traditional window frame material, wood is also expensive. Wood requires upkeep as allowing its finish to wear off leads to warping. Paint can crack and discolor, which exposes wood to environmental and pest damage. Some window manufacturers have developed wood windows clad with vinyl or fiberglass but his process is costly and negates the appeal of wood window frames.

Check the "K-value" for windows you're considering. this measurement indicates the amount of heat flow through windows. The lower the value, the more energy-efficient the window.

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