When choosing a window, it’s in a buyer’s best interests to know all about what they’re getting into. The composition of a window is critical to how it will fit with a home, business, or other building. While windows are often simply looked through, at first they could be easily overlooked in favor of other, more noticeable furnishings of a building. There are four major types of window-frame materials. They can affect maintenance costs, the visage of a building, as well as environmental impact.
The four main kinds of window materials are: wood, aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass. Wood and aluminum are natural (if processed) materials. Vinyl (PVC) and fiberglass are man-made materials, with different compositions for each window and batch made. Some of the distinctions are rather obvious just by the nature of the materials. They’ll vary as well based on manufacturer, the materials put into the mixtures, and where everything came from originally. No two windows will be exactly the same.
Wood makes for a traditional window style. The grain can be brought out of a wood window with a stain or varnish on both the inside and the outside of a window, to give it a classy sheen. Wood will always be popular for its looks and unique patterns. However, as a material, it can wear or even rot more easily than other solutions. This is especially true on the outside of a window’s frame where weather and precipitation can damage the structure. Often times, it needs to be maintained and replaced every few years, though it can be freely painted and stained as an owner wishes. It is a decent insulator as far as heat goes, and will not affect heating or cooling bills.
Aluminum is a lightweight, yet strong metal choice for window frames. Windows made with this metal as a frame will not need much maintenance. They can be painted or ordered with a hard finish that will stay for years. The best reason to have them, visually, is that the aluminum is stronger than other materials. There is less of it needed to frame the glass, and as such, viewable area is maximized. The downside to aluminum windows is that they are not as thermally protected as other materials. As a metal, aluminum conducts heat and cold easily – this means that heated or cooled air will try to equalize with the outside temperature. Current designs combat this more than in the past, but it can still be an issue. Heating and cooling costs for your home or building may be affected as a result.
Vinyl, or PVC windows are made up of a common polymer often found in commercial use. They can be made relatively cheaply compared to many window types. This form of window is thermally-stable, and can possibly save money on heating and cooling costs. Threaded and heat-welded polymers are popular because the processes can strengthen and thermally insulate the material, respectively. Quality varies depending on the manufacturer and the batch of vinyl that the frame was made from. It cannot be painted, however, it is low-maintenance and the poured color goes all the way through the material. This is beneficial to buildings or homes in places where they may see outside wear and tear. Scratches, dings, and dents will not be seen as easily.
Fiberglass is a plastic polymer laced with a net or webbing of glass strands. Most people know fiberglass as insulation for houses, hulls for boats, and many other uses. As a window frame material, fiberglass is a little on the expensive side. However, it is extremely low maintenance. It can be finished, painted, or have a veneer added for multiple looks and styles perfect for any building. It isn’t affected by weather, wear and tear, or time quite the same way as other materials. This is best for people who want a customizable, versatile surface for their window frames.
Whatever material you choose for your windows, there are some beneficial qualities to each and every type. Choose wisely to best match your budget, where you live, how much maintenance you care for, or the overall look of your building.