The frame of a window is arguably the most important part. There are many materials that can encase the glass, but the best frame for your home depends on the weather and your price range. Here’s the breakdown:
Vinyl: This material is not expensive, and a well-constructed vinyl window can be a practical choice. It offers energy efficiency measures through insulated glass, and the tight construction will reduce air leakage.
Aluminum: If you live in a rainy, humid climate, your best bet is an aluminum window due to the practicality and strength in hurricane-prone and coastal areas.
Wood: Wood windows offer the best insulation, but require more maintenance than vinyl and aluminum frames. For humid or rainy climates, professionals don’t recommend wood due to its tendency to rot. However, if you live in the appropriate area, a high-quality species of wood can make solid windows.
Wood-clad: These windows offer a low maintenance exterior like vinyl and aluminum and a temperature-transfer-resistant interior like wood. However, wood-clad windows also aren’t recommended for homes in rainy climates due to water intrusion.
Tip: If you do desire these windows in a rainy climate, consider adding waterproof rubber membranes around the cladding and a sill pan. This will drain away water that pools around the windowsill.
Fiberglass: Fiberglass is best for homes in warmer climates because it resists environmental damage caused by high temperatures and corrosive salt air. This material doesn’t warp like wood does, but it is more expensive than the other options due to its strength.
After choosing your windows’ frame, it’s time to look at the glass. There are some qualifications you should consider for Energy Star, eco-friendly quality. The lower these values are, the better your window will perform:
- U-value, which measures a unit’s resistance to heat loss
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), which measures how much heat enters your home through the glass
- Low Emissivity (Low-E) – a window’s ability to reflect rather than absorb heat when coated with a thin metallic substance
Now that you have the frame and glass, think about how you want to install your window. Proper caulking, flashing and insulation are very important during installation so don’t rely too heavily on expanding foams or sealants. Here are a few common designs:
Casement windows. Designed for windy cities, these windows have a crank that swings the window outward to open. They also seal themselves tighter when wind blows in and toward your home. To ensure their efficiency, they require maintenance on their hinges and seals.
Double-hung windows. This traditional design is found in most homes. These windows open from the bottom, which is energy efficient for most climates. Though, if you live in an extreme climate, consider another option because the sliders allow for potential air intrusion.
Picture windows. Typically larger units, these windows are as they sound: just for show. This design does not allow for the window to open, but they can be efficient depending on your glass choice and the gas-filled interior.
So if you are designing your first home or replacing your windows (which is better than repairing because your home will yield a 78 percent return on investment), make sure you pick the best frame, glass and design for your climate, wallet and personal preference. Contact Warner Service today for any questions.