Are your windows showing signs of age? Are the frames bent, panes foggy, or they just won’t open properly? There are many reasons why you would need replacement windows. If you’re considering getting new windows, how do you know what types are best for your home? We’ve offered some comparisons to help you decide.
Window manufacturers are steadily improving the quality of windows with advanced technology. It’s best to consult with a professional who has the experience and knowledge to advise you on the specifics of windows and the best ones for your needs.
Criteria for Evaluating Windows
Choosing replacement windows can be stressful for a homeowner because your choice will affect you for many years to come; most likely for at least the next 20 years. There are so many window options on the market today to fit any style of home and budget.
The typical process of choosing windows is to start with the types of windows. Once the type of window has been selected, the material of the window is next. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s also important to know what you need for your home, the design function for each window, and the amount you’re willing to spend.
In the St. Louis area, we have many changes in the weather. Windows must withstand strong winds, heavy rains, and other conditions. They take a lot of abuse over the years. Choosing a window material that can withstand the climate where you live is important; otherwise, you’ll be repairing or replacing them more often.
It’s important to take your time when selecting the new windows for your home. Getting it right will add value to your home, improve its appearance and make it more energy efficient.
Window Frame Materials
Windows frame the view from your home and complement the style whether it be modern, traditional, or Victorian. There are six main materials that windows are made of. They include wood, vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, wood-clad and composite. Each type has its pros and cons that you need to compare and consider.
If you’re going for natural beauty, then wood is the material to choose for your windows. It is a popular choice among homeowners for many reasons. Wood gives a home a traditional appearance.
Wood is a durable natural resource that is environmentally friendly and can be made into many shapes and sizes. Just as there are advantages to wood replacement window material, there are disadvantages to consider.
- Wood is strong and gets harder over time for long-lasting performance.
- Can be painted or stained to match any decor or complement existing colors
- Does not allow as much condensation as other materials
- Offers greater insulation to keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer
- Provides better aesthetics, especially to more traditional homes, and enhances the value of a home
- Provides a great sound barrier
- Susceptible to rotting and warping from weather conditions
- Vulnerable to insects and other pests, especially termites
- They require more maintenance. Painting, staining, caulking, and cleaning must be done regularly.
- Higher initial cost than other materials; however, they will last a lifetime with the proper care.
Vinyl window frames are composed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is used in numerous household items, construction, and plumbing products. There is pure virgin vinyl and recycled vinyl. The main difference between the two is durability and cost. The pure vinyl is stronger and lasts longer than recycled vinyl; however, it is also more expensive. The quality and durability of vinyl windows have greatly improved, making them a good choice for frames.
- Vinyl window frames are very energy efficient. This characteristic is valid if the windows are Energy Star Rated. This applies to windows manufactured with Low-E glass. Vinyl window frames are airtight, so they won’t allow air to escape when closed and locked.
- Vinyl requires little to no maintenance. Vinyl is easy to clean with common household cleaners. There’s no need for painting or staining.
- Vinyl’s UV resistant properties prevent rotting and corrosion.
- Expect a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
- Vinyl is usually less expensive than other materials, like wood or fiberglass. This is a good return of investment according to the Cost vs. Value Report at 74.3 percent.
- Lightweight and less complicated installation process
- Less design flexibility. Vinyl cannot be painted, making color options limited.
- Darker shades might fade over time.
- Vinyl is not made of natural products, so it is difficult to recycle. Manufacturers have tried to improve on this factor, but the cost can be more than re-manufacturing it from scratch.
Fiberglass windows have gained traction in recent years. Their makeup of reinforced glass fibers and resin creates a strong durable material that requires little maintenance. Fiberglass can mimic the look of wood windows giving them a better aesthetic.
- Fiberglass is the top insulator among other materials due to its foam-filled cores, making it more energy-efficient.
- Low maintenance material that is resistant to fading, flaking, and peeling. No need for repainting.
- Moisture will not cause rotting, mold, or corrosion.
- Frames are thinner with fiberglass windows due to the stiffness of fiber-reinforced resins.
- Fiberglass does not expand, contract, or warp. It can withstand hot temperatures.
- Versatility. Manufacturers offer the option of having real wood over the fiberglass for a warmer aesthetic.
- Eco-friendly. Fiberglass frames are completely recyclable, lessening the environmental impact.
- The cost of fiberglass windows is higher.
- There are fewer color and hardware options to choose from, making it harder to customize.
- Because fiberglass is a rigid material, installation can be difficult and take more time than other options.
For more modern homes, aluminum windows are a good choice. They provide a sleek look and require less upkeep than other materials. Aluminum is lightweight but very strong and can support large expanses of glass. With this advantage, your home can have large window spaces providing more natural light into your living spaces.
- More affordable than wood windows.
- A flexible option providing unique shapes and customized fit due to aluminum’s easy manipulation.
- Aluminum is a durable material that is lightweight and easy to install.
- Available in baked-on finishes; don’t have to repaint.
- It offers a narrow frame allowing more glass area and better views.
- Not susceptible to insects
- Aluminum does not hold up to heat, making it a very poor insulator and the least energy-efficient material.
- Moisture can form inside aluminum windows.
- Aluminum can be prone to corrosion if your home is near saltwater and air.
Wood-clad windows provide homeowners with the appearance of wood without the maintenance. They are solid wood window frames with an exterior covered in aluminum or fiberglass. Two materials are joined to create a better window.
- Less maintenance
- Variety of color and customizable options
- Aesthetically appealing
- Longevity and durable material if maintained properly
- More expensive than other materials.
- The cladding can separate.
This type of frame is made from a combination of wood, metal, and vinyl. Choosing composite windows gives you the best aspects of different materials combined for a stronger product. When this type of window first came out, the composite material was just used for the windowsills, but now the entire window frame is made from it.
- Greater resistance to moisture, rotting, and warping
- The composite material can be made to mimic natural wood, which can be painted or stained.
- Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly
- Cost much more than other materials
Which Window Is Right for You?
When you look at each type of window frame material and its advantages and disadvantages, you will need to decide what your priorities are. Windows are an important design element in a home, so you’ll want to carefully weigh the options available before installation.
Geographic location is another factor to incorporate in the decision-making process. Not all window materials perform the same in harsh weather or near the ocean. Other considerations include:
Do you want a classic look that stands the test of time? Are you willing to put the time and money into proper ongoing maintenance? Do you want window frames that you can customize? Then wood is probably your best choice.
Would you prefer a less expensive alternative that requires little maintenance? Are you fine with standard color palettes and don’t change them often? Do you do want to save on energy bills? Vinyl would be material for you.
Are you concerned about the environmental impacts of your home improvement projects? Do you want windows that will last for decades with little maintenance? Are you willing to make the investment for extra durability and longevity? Choose fiberglass.
Let an Expert Install Your Premium Replacement Windows
If you’re still not sure what type of replacement windows you need and want, Banner Construction can help you decide. We only carry premium replacement windows made by Pella (wood and fiberglass) and Simonton (vinyl). No matter which material you choose, you can be confident that your replacement windows will be the best you can get.
We know choosing replacement windows is a big decision, one that will affect you and your home for years. We begin with a free consultation with you to determine your preferences and requirements. We’ll then draw up a detailed proposal and review it with you to clear up any questions or concerns you have.
Banner also installs doors, James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding, and vinyl siding. We can also build you a beautiful deck for your enjoyment and entertainment. Contact us today for a free quote on your window replacement job!