Types of Frames for Window Replacement
The type of frame you choose for your window replacement project is far from the only variable you will have to decide on in the course of coming up with the window package of your choosing. But it is nonetheless a very important choice. There are several different options to pick from, and even more if you count hybrids. If a single window material worked best for everyone in every situation, there would not be a handful of other options as well.
Factors Driving our Frame Choices
The truth is that while some materials may be in some ways superior to others generally speaking, today's window manufacturers do such a good job building their windows that you really can't get the "wrong" material. Most of what drives these decisions is either aesthetic or monetary in nature. Homeowners buy a certain material because of the way it looks or because of how cheap it is. There are exceptions, of course; and there certainly are those among us who buy strictly based on performance and performance alone. But these things tend to get a little muddled in with the price and look factors at least a little.
There are several different options for the materials used to build your replacement windows. Windows can be made of aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, or wood. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages for use in a window replacement project. Some are more affordable than others; some are more durable; and certainly some are more attractive. Certainly if any one window was all of the above, it would rule market. As it is, vinyl windows hold the largest market share of both new install and replacement window categories. This can be pretty well chalked up to the cost factor. Vinyl windows are cheaper than any other material.
Vinyl's Popularity Demonstrates Price Importance
The popularity of vinyl versus all the other product types proves the overriding importance of cost as the number one basis homeowners use to decide on their new window replacement materials. Vinyl is not considered the most attractive of all materials, nor does it outperform all of the others. Yet it outsells all of the others combined. People can say all they want about style and function, but price rules many home remodeling choices, and our windows are no different.
Of course, not all homeowners opt for vinyl, even though it is cheap. Some want wood windows because they do not like the look of vinyl. For this reason, wood clad vinyl windows are very popular. They come in at a price close to that of straight vinyl but give the visual impression of wood. Hybrid windows are great for those of us who really want that wood look on the inside of our homes. Vinyl is much more low maintenance than wood, and it is more resistant to the weather as well.
Aluminum and Fiberglass Windows
Aluminum and fiberglass windows are both very strong. They can support heavier glass better than vinyl, so thinner frames are needed than with vinyl (though vinyl in turn is stronger than wood). Aluminum, however, is looked upon as undesirable. People still have visions of the first aluminum windows from a half century ago in their minds. Like all materials, today's aluminum windows are more attractive than those of yesteryear.
In addition to all the other materials available, homeowners may also opt for stained glass or glass block windows. Both of these options are great in bathrooms and basement windows.
The ultimate choice for preferred window material lies with the homeowner.