How to Have Amazing Windows on Any Budget

The Pros and Cons of Different Window Frame Materials

by Landon Ferguson

When it's time to choose new windows for your home, you want to ensure you look at all the choices you have for the material of the window frame. Many homeowners will take time to consider the glass and if it's double or triple glazed, coated with energy efficient materials, and the like, but will then forget to consider all the different frame materials. Note a few important details here so you can ensure you choose the best window frames for your home.

1. Wood

Wood is very attractive and lightweight, and it has the advantage of being easy to fabricate. You can cut and replace a wood window sill or other piece on your own, if you're handy with a saw and other tools and materials. However, wood does conduct heat and cold very easily, so it's not the best insulator. If you prefer the look of wood but want better insulation for your home, choose wood cladding. This is a wood veneer over vinyl or plastic; the vinyl or plastic will help insulate the home while the cladding offers the look of traditional wood.

2. Aluminium

Aluminium is lightweight and good for insulation. It's also very strong and won't absorb moisture and then expand and contract, as does wood. However, you cannot typically repair damage to aluminium windows yourself, something to consider if your home is in an area with strong storms or at risk for damage for any reason. Also, aluminium often holds condensation in colder weather. This can lead to mould and mildew forming on the building materials around the windows. You would need to ensure your home is well ventilated to help remove some of that condensation if you were to choose aluminium windows.

3. Vinyl and plastic

Vinyl and plastic window frames are very durable and rarely, if ever, need maintenance. They're also very lightweight and, depending on the type you choose, will have a very high insulating value. Both can be stamped with a grain or pattern to make them look more natural, but note that you cannot paint vinyl or plastic on your own. You would need this done by a professional or would need new windows altogether if you wanted to change the colour.

If you're concerned about making an eco-friendly choice, you may want to look for plastic windows made with recycled or reclaimed materials, but these can be very expensive. Your new windows may also be harder to recycle than other materials, if you want to keep them out of landfills when you do eventually decide to replace them.