Windows play a critical role in your home’s interior and exterior design. They also help filter light and air coming into your home and allow you to control its temperature.
Drafty, leaky windows can drive up your energy costs. They can also keep you from getting a good night’s sleep and can make it difficult to concentrate when working at home.
Aluminum frames offer a sleek, attractive look that is popular with today’s homeowners. They are also low maintenance and don’t need to be repainted. They are a good option for homes in neighborhoods with homeowner’s association rules that limit exterior changes.
They are an excellent choice for double pane windows that help block noises from busy streets, airports and businesses. They also insulate well, helping lower energy bills. However, early aluminum frames were poor insulators and allowed heat to escape in the winter and seep in during summer putting more strain on home air conditioning systems. Now, many aluminum frame models are equipped with thermal breaks to reduce this loss and improve energy efficiency.
They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes for horizontal sliders, bay, casement and awning windows. They can be custom-sized to fit in existing openings, minimizing installation and renovation costs. They also can be customized with a variety of color choices and glass efficiencies.
Vinyl windows are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is also used for thousands of other things like car parts, medical equipment, pipes and plastic wrap. They’re affordable, resistant to heat and able to withstand Louisiana’s adamant humidity and corrosive rainstorms better than aluminum or wood frames can.
Typically, vinyl windows come in white but can be customized to any color homeowners want. Because they are more durable than other window types and have a better overall look, they make an excellent choice for people concerned about their building’s curb appeal.
Additionally, because they’re more insulated than other window options, they help lower energy costs. When paired with dual-pane windows, they offer sound abatement, which is a great benefit for homes near railroad tracks or loud neighbors.
Wood frames are a beautiful option that adds value to your home and can be finished with almost any paint color. They insulate well and are sturdy. Pros: They can provide a classic look to your home; they are easy to clean and wipe down; they are less expensive than vinyl; and they are better at resisting expansion and contraction which can cause seals to leak and let cold air in. Cons: They require regular ongoing maintenance and are prone to moisture damage.
With the advances in technology, energy efficiency of windows has become a serious consideration. The frames are better insulated, air seals are tighter and gas-filled cavities between double or triple panes allow for high R-values. These factors combined with the direction a window is facing can determine if it will offer net solar heat gain or loss. You can find this information in the U-value and SHGC values attributed to each window.
Window frames are available in a wide range of styles, shapes, sizes and colors. Some have specialized uses, such as awning windows that hinge at the top and open like a door or bay and bow windows that extend out from wall spaces for added light and storage.
The frame material, glazing or glass features, gas fills and spacers, and the type of operation influence a window’s energy performance. A glazed window with low-e coatings minimizes heat transfer through the insulated glazing.
Many window frame materials expand and contract at different rates from the tempered glass they hold, causing leaks over time. Fiberglass, however, contracts and expands at the same rate as the glass it holds, reducing moisture problems. It also has the added benefit of being extremely strong. This allows it to resist damage caused by extreme temperature changes. As a result, fiberglass is one of the best choices for energy efficiency and durability.