Pros and Cons of the Most Popular Window Materials
Window replacements are so much easier when you are informed. It’s kind of like going in blind to a car dealership. Of course, if you haven’t done your research about a particular car or brand you’re bound to get misled by a manipulative car salesperson. Now that’s not to say every window manufacturer is manipulative (or car salesman for that matter). Nonetheless, the point is you find better products and save money when you are informed about the types of window materials out there.
Window replacements are sold in a variety of types and options. Once you begin the shopping experience you might be surprised by how many different types of windows are on the market.
As a result, we have put together this guide to focus on one of the most important: the pros and cons of the most popular window materials.
Wood Replacement Windows
Wood windows basically shaped the benchmark for what we expect in modern-day windows. They provided stability and security. We have a lot to owe to windows made out of wood.
However, when you hear about new homes getting constructed these days, often the windows are not made of wood, but rather vinyl or aluminum?
There are a few reasons for this shift from wood being basically the only type of good replacement window to more of a middle of the road option.
Advantages of Wood Windows:
- Great tradition. Wood has been used on windows for thousands of years.
- It’s natural. The trendy new style is to find environmentally sustainable products and wood will always get applauded for being natural and renewable.
- The look. It is difficult to beat the authenticity of wood, especially when stained and you can show off the natural grain.
- Good insulation. Wood doesn’t generate a lot of heat which is a nice feature. It also transfers cold air well so it’s not like a magnet to the sun.
- Strong and durable. It does vary slightly on the type of wood (as there are so many), but wood is dependable. It actually gets harder over time unlike just about any other type of building material.
- You can paint or stain it. You have endless options on how to decorate your windows.
- May improve home value. It depends on the house, but for example, an older historic home or residence in the mountains stands to benefit from wood because of its natural beauty.
Disadvantages of Wood Windows:
- Wood is not the cheapest material on the market. It depends on the type of wood, but some are incredibly costly.
- Constant maintenance. Wood needs a lot of love. You must caulk, clean, sand, and stain/paint wood windows regularly in order to maintain a high quality look.
- Wood is bad against moisture. Wood windows are a haven for mold, rot, and mildew.
Vinyl Replacement Windows
Vinyl windows are trendy and very popular in new homes and with replacement windows. There is a reason. Vinyl is very cheap, high performing, and requires little maintenance.
What is there not to love?
Advantages of Vinyl Windows:
- The most affordable window material on the market.
- Energy efficient. The window frames don’t attract high heat or lose a lot of warmth from the interior because the frames are hollow and sometimes filled with insulating foam.
- Almost no maintenance. They never need to get painted and look very presentable for decades.
- New technologies make them UV-resistant as well as non-corroding.
- Durable and very good at resisting moisture that would lead to water damage.
Disadvantages of Vinyl Windows:
- The color of the window must remain the same. You cannot stain or paint them another color.
- There is a potential for warping over time if not installed correctly.
- The material expands and contracts during temperature changes so climates with extreme temperature differences may not make it the most appropriate option.
Aluminum Replacement Windows
Aluminum used to have the reputation of being something that you mostly found on industrial buildings and offices yet it’s also making the transition to the home market.
It is very affordable and requires little maintenance, comparable to vinyl.
Advantages of Aluminum Windows:
- Affordable yet great value for money spent.
- Low maintenance. The variety of finishes help with wear and repainting is not necessary.
- The slim profile and narrow frame offer more glass which looks good and also lets in more natural light.
- Super lightweight and can get customized for unique configurations.
- Very hard to warp and has a long life span.
Disadvantages of Aluminum Windows:
- Aluminum is a metal so it attracts heat like a magnet. The same is true of the cold. There is no doubt about it aluminum is the least energy-efficient type of window material on the market.
- In the winter this can restrict views and look unpleasant.
- Salt in the air or water can make it susceptible to corrosion over time.
Fiberglass Replacement Windows
Fiberglass is considered the premium type of window material on the market. It is not as popular due to high costs yet offers a little of everything, for everyone.
Advantages of Fiberglass Windows:
- It can get matched to look like wood or other textures. You can also paint it, unlike vinyl and aluminum.
- Extremely durable. Fiberglass is ultra-resistant to rotting, warping, and swelling.
- Extremely strong. Great for triple-pane windows that need a heavy-duty frame to support the added weight.
- The material expands and contracts which helps with the lifespan.
- The best insulator. The new technologies in fiberglass windows clearly make them the leaders in insulation.
Disadvantages of Fiberglass Windows:
- Fiberglass windows are generally more costly than wood windows, and easily more than vinyl.
- Sold in a limited number of predefined colors so you’ll probably end up repainting after installation.
Choosing the Right Window Materials
Choosing the right window material comes down to budget and preference. If you’re looking for something that’s budget-friendly then vinyl and aluminum is the right choice. However, if your willing to open up your budget then wood and fiberglass window materials are the right choices.
Let’s say that you prefer to repaint your windows then fiberglass and wood are the popular choices since you can repaint them to any color you want. However, if you don’t like to keep up with the maintenance then fiberglass and wood are not the right choices for your home.
With wood and fiberglass, you’ll end up repainting them since colors undergo color discoloration as a result of UV Rays. In addition, wood windows require a lot of maintenance like cleaning and sanding.
For low maintenance and good-looking color options, vinyl and fiberglass are the most popular choices for homeowners. As a result, you’ll want to consider everything before you make a decision to buy wood, vinyl, fiberglass and aluminum windows.