New windows make a huge difference in your home’s appearance, energy efficiency, and overall atmosphere. Modern windows reduce air infiltration and can significantly cut down on your heating and cooling bills. If it’s time for you to make this investment, it’s important to keep every detail in mind. In considering your budget, don’t neglect quality; these details include materials.
Contemporary manufacturers have created a wide variety of choices, and it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your home. Read on for some insights to inspire your choice.
Common Materials for Replacement Windows
Replacing your windows is a large undertaking, and identifying the right materials can be a challenge. Do you want to save money now and end up with lower quality windows in the long run, or would you rather invest a little more up front and enjoy the benefits for many years to come? Choosing between vinyl, fiberglass, and other materials for your frames will make all the difference – so choose wisely.
Pros: Wood frames provide a classic aesthetic and are often considered the gold standard by homeowners. For many, the look of a wood frame can’t be beat. When well maintained, wood frames also hold up against the test of time and provide relatively good energy efficiency.
Cons: High quality wood frames are expensive. Additionally, regardless of its quality, This Old House reports that wood also requires extensive maintenance, which includes periodic painting or staining to protect it from inclement weather and other elements.
Without proper upkeep, wood is prone to rot and deterioration, which decreases your energy savings. Poorly maintained wood may even go so far as to cause structural damage. It also has a higher chance of seal failure than manmade materials, because the moisture in wood causes it to expand and contract at a much higher rate than its glass pane.
Some manufacturers combine wood and vinyl or aluminum, which reduces the problem of maintenance on the exterior of a home while still allowing you to enjoy the look of painted or stained wood indoors. This addresses the problem of upkeep but requires a much higher upfront cost.
Pros: Both low in cost and low in maintenance, aluminum is durable and will hold up against the elements. Additionally, while aluminum is prone to corrosion, it doesn’t rust; instead, its corrosive nature actually creates aluminum oxide, which strengthens the material in the long run.
Cons: The biggest drawback to aluminum frames is that they conduct heat easily. Their high U-value means they lose heat and can increase your energy bills. They are also prone to condensation. As such, aluminum frames are usually deemed most suitable for warm climates, where cooling a home is a much more significant investment than heating it. Homeowners who want aluminum frames will need to invest in ones that come equipped with a thermal break.
Aluminum frames are also prone to warping, bowing, cracking, and shrinking.
Pros: Vinyl is by far the most affordable option. Vinyl is a relatively durable material that resists rot and insect damage. Frames cost as little as half the price of similarly styled wood frame windows. Vinyl also has the advantage of being energy efficient. Its well-structured chambers trap air and can be built to fit any size you need. Unlike wood, vinyl will never need to be repainted.
Cons: Once you choose a color for your vinyl windows, you’re stuck with it. Vinyl cannot be repainted; instead, you’ll have the choice of a limited selection of colors that are already “baked in.” While vinyl is a popular material, it provides very little resale value. Additionally, due to the difference in material between the glass and the frame, this material has a higher chance of seal failure.
Because it’s made of plastic, vinyl poses a high risk in the event of a building fire, releasing deadly gases like hydrogen chloride in addition to carcinogenic dioxin waste. Additionally, the production of vinyl creates byproducts like hydrochloric acid and vinyl chloride, which are known to cause serious health problems.
Pros: Fiberglass is ultra-strong, ultra-durable, and super lightweight. They’re up to 9 times stronger than vinyl windows, and they boast a 38 percent longer lifespan than vinyl. Additionally, because they’re sourced from glass rather than plastic, the frame and panes expand and contract at the same rate, which reduces the chance of seal failure. Its source material also makes fiberglass a more environmentally friendly option than vinyl.
Fiberglass is virtually maintenance-free and does not corrode. As such, it ensures a low overall cost to the owner over the course of its lifetime. In addition, it provides a higher resale value than any other material.
Cons: Some homeowners prefer a more natural look for their frames, which turns them off from fiberglass. Considered a more upscale option for replacement windows, fiberglass has a higher upfront cost than most other frame materials.
At Lakeside Exteriors, our favorite option by far is fiberglass. No other material can compare to its durability and strength. As with other materials, homeowners who prefer the appearance of wood can order fiberglass frames with wood finishes.
We do not recommend vinyl. Simply put, the benefits of fiberglass are unbeatable, and we partner with some of the best manufacturers in the industry to provide our customers with the highest quality windows available.
Choose Lakeside Exteriors
At Lakeside Exteriors, we’ve worked with Missouri homeowners for almost 20 years, and we’d love for you to become part of the family. We understand that replacement windows are no small investment, which is why we’re committed to working with you through every step of the process, from conception to installation.
When you choose Lakeside Exteriors, you can be sure that we’ll only use the highest quality replacement windows – and that we’ll work with you to come up with the right solution that meets your needs and budget.
For more information and to receive a free quote, contact us today. Our certified, factory-trained team will be thrilled to learn more about your project.