As a proud homeowner, there are many bits and pieces of your home to care for, update, and consider. Window frames may not always be at the top of your list, though.
Not only do window frames hold it all together, but they’re also a big part of your home’s insulation, aesthetics, and value.
Plus, if you want to make maintenance easier and/or boost your energy efficiency, it could be time for an upgrade or replacement.
Let’s take a look at the different materials you can use and why you would choose one over the other.
Common Materials for Window Frames
So that there’s no confusion, we’re going to take a look at five different common materials for window frames. These include:
They vary in their pros and cons, as well as price point, but any one of them could fit in the best home windows to complete the package. Let’s start with wood.
1. Wood Frames
Wood frames are some of the oldest home window types. Wood has been used in homes since early frontier life in America, and by today’s standards, it fits a certain aesthetic – and not only Americana.
Today, people might choose wood frames if they’re aiming for a particular look. If you want that log-cabin-just-outside-the-ski-resort vibe, then you shouldn’t be looking at anything else.
The good news is that wood has stood the test of time!
It provides excellent insulation in colder climates as it traps in heat, and it’s easily customizable. Painting wood frames allows for some beautiful and unique touches to your home.
It comes with drawbacks, though.
Sadly, wood is not quite as resistant to weather and other elements as other materials on this list. Constant rain and snow can soak wood and leads to rot.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t protect your wood window frames with sealant and other protecting treatments, but it’s going to take more effort. If not cared for, wood will splinter and crack, making for an unsightly window that needs replacing sooner rather than later.
Next up, let’s go from something natural (wood) toward something a little less natural (vinyl). Vinyl is a synthetic resin consisting of polyvinyl chloride and is essentially plastic.
Some people may not like this option because, in our modern “green” lives, we don’t want to use plastics that take forever to degrade. Thankfully, though, vinyl is a rather resistant and durable material.
Vinyl resists swaths of UV lights and therefore won’t dull or fade easily. Then again, just like wood, they can develop mold if not cared for properly.
Plus, this material lacks a bit in the customization department as the surface isn’t the best for applying paint.
Still, they’re really good at insulating and are quite a relatively affordable option. So, it’s easy to see why vinyl is so popular.
It’s only logical to go from wood and vinyl to composite window frames.
Composite frames are a mixture of wooden byproduct and plastics. It’s the happy midway point – a fine compromise.
The biggest benefit of a composite material is that it looks like wood but it acts more like vinyl. It’s durable, good at insulation, but retains a nice natural appeal if that’s the kind of look you’re aiming for.
Plus, since it’s not 100% wood, it won’t be as prone to wear and tear and is fairly low maintenance! But just like this option is a halfway point between wood and plastics, its price point is also somewhere in between.
It’s neither the most expensive or the most affordable type of window frame material on this list, so it’s a safe bet if the benefits sound good to you.
Aluminum has a lot going for it. It’s inexpensive, strong, and durable.
These types of window frames can resist harsh UV lights and general elements better than vinyl, and they’re easy to paint and customize. They tend to be sleek looking, so they will generally fit modern home aesthetics, which is important to keep in mind.
They’re also very popular in warmer climates as aluminum deflects heat well. But on the flip side, aluminum is one of the least energy-efficient options for most people.
So, if you’re eyeing those energy-efficient tax credits, this might not be the option for you.
Fiberglass is another synthetic option on this list but not necessarily one of the most popular. This is the best window for your home for energy efficiency.
It’s durable and excellent at insulation, making it the perfect solution to keep your home temperate and your AC/heating systems from working overtime. It’s also highly customizable through different colors, styles, and finishes, not to mention the ability to paint over it.
But fiberglass is also fairly expensive, costing about as much as wood or aluminum frames.
There are also some people who don’t necessarily see much of an aesthetic improvement with fiberglass, but this is the energy-efficient option fo choice – bar none.
Choose Window Frames Carefully
Whether you’re building your first home or upgrading or replacing old windows and window frames, it’s easy to not put much thought into the frame.
But a responsible homeowner understands the benefits and drawbacks of the various materials and doesn’t take the decision lightly.
- Strong aesthetic choice
- Excellent insulation
- Less resilient to wet weather conditions
- Can be expensive
- Resistant to UV lights
- Good insulation
- Less customizability
- Affordably priced
- Halfway point between wood and plastic resins
- Wood aesthetics
- Plastic durability
- Good insulation
- Moderately priced
- Strong, durable, and very resistant
- Easy to paint and customize
- Not as energy efficient
- Good for warmer climates
- Moderately priced
- Most energy efficient
- Resilient to various weather and conditions
- Variation in color, styles, and finishes
- Low maintenance
- Can be expensive
With all of that in mind, if you have more questions or are ready to make a decision on your frames, speak with our experts right away!