Window replacement materials – Pros and Cons

             There are several different types of window replacement material options to choose from.  These options include wood windows, pvc windows, vinyl windows, fiberglass windows and aluminum clad windows.  This article is going to discuss some pros and cons of each material type to help you choose what’s best for you and your home. 


Wood Sash Kits


               The first option we are going to talk about is wood windows. Wood windows can either be a full frame window unit or a sash replacement kit. Full frame wood windows will include new sashes, balances(or tracks), new jamb, window sill and nosing as well as the exterior brickmold or trim. A sash kit will include new top and bottom sashes as well as new balances. Both options are a great option for replacing existing wood windows in order to keep the aesthetics of the home. If the current frame is in good shape with little to no rot then a sash kit will be a great choice. If the frame is out of square and or has a great deal of rot then the full frame would be a better fit.  Another reason that wood windows are a good option is they are typically a less expensive option than other styles with the exception of higher end wood replacement options we will discuss a little later. Wood windows do have some downfalls though. While wood is a great insulator, the lack of weatherstripping and seals cause wood windows to be a less efficient option. These windows will also require continued maintenance in order for them to last. Lastly, without proper maintenance they can rot out and stop functioning properly. 


PVC Sash Kits


               PVC window replacement material makes for an excellent alternative to wood. These offer the same two options as wood with the full frame or sash kit. The biggest difference here is that the sashes, sill and exterior brick molding are all made from high quality cellular pvc. This allows for a window that will not peel, splinter, decay, absorb moisture and is impervious to insects. They also will not warp, twist or bend and are paintable which gives you the option to give your home a unique appearance. The major con of pvc windows is the higher cost that comes along with them compared to their wood competitor. And while they are similar to wood they will not mimic the traditional look of a wood window. 


Vinyl Replacement


                Next we have the most common replacement window, Vinyl replacement windows. There are the typical window you think of when someone talks about replacing their windows. Vinyl replacement windows offer lots of great features including energy efficiency. With their fusion welded frames and double insulated and sometimes triple pane glass options offer amazing energy savings. You can get vinyl windows in a wide range of color options depending on the manufacturer. Most manufacturers offer a limited lifetime warranty on the windows and these windows add awesome resell value to your home. On top of all of this, they are very affordable for replacement windows.  So far so good right? Well this option also has some drawbacks. For one, you are limited to options and styles in most entry level models. So if you need specific colors, configurations or even sizes you may have to upgrade to top line models that can really drive the cost up. Also vinyl windows are not the strongest or most stable material when it comes to window options. Most vinyl windows even have reinforcement materials in their sashes to keep from sagging. Lastly, over the years and the increasing demand for vinyl windows has caused and increase in manufacturers offering a vinyl option. This has caused a decrease in the quality of vinyl windows from manufacturers, so make sure to research the manufacturer as well as the contractor to make sure you are getting the best quality in product as well as service for your window replacement project. 




                 Another great window replacement material option is fiberglass windows. Fiberglass windows are typically offered by some of the larger window manufacturers such as Pella, Marvin and Anderson. Fiberglass windows offer great strength and durability. They are approximately 8 times stronger than vinyl windows which is also a factor in the longevity of fiberglass windows. The strength that fiberglass provides also allow for slimmer frames than other options which allow for more glass space giving you more natural light in the home. Vinyl windows typically have a life expectancy of 30 years while fiberglass windows can last up to 50 years or more. Fiberglass will not shrink, crack or warp as well offering significant energy efficiency making them a great option for a quality and durable window. Although fiberglass has some great advantages, like anything they also have some disadvantages. One is cost. These can be significantly more expensive than wood,pvc and vinyl windows. Color options are typically more limited for fiberglass manufacturers causing these to not work in every home if you are looking for more versatility for your home. 

Wood Clad


              Lastly you have wood clad windows. These windows are constructed of high quality wood frames and sashes that have an exterior aluminum, fiberglass or vinyl  cladding. The extruded aluminum and fiberglass is very strong and extremely durable. Due to their strength allows for more glass space than vinyl windows. These have a wide range of color options for the exterior and the interior options can be painted, stained or primed for a customer custom paint job. Wood clad windows offer many different options including multiple grid styles, jamb liner colors and hardware finishes. Wood clad windows also offer a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Cladded windows do have some drawbacks that may make them a not so great choice for your window replacement project. Aluminum is a great conductor for heat which makes them not the best option for energy effiicency. Cost is another drawback as they can be more expensive than some of the other replacement window options. If improperly installed water can infiltrate the cladding material and possible start rotting out the wooden frame. 


                In conclusion we hope this article gives you a better understanding of the different types of window replacement material options. With all the choices it shouldn’t be too difficult to find what’s best for you and your home. Regardless of what window you choose it is important to consider to have a professional, reliable and reputable installation company to handle your replacement window project. Windows of all types are only as good as their installation and a poor installation can take a great quality product from what it should be to having more issues and less efficiency than you currently have. 


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