Window Frames: Material Guide

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Haus der Ufogel, Aberjung Design Agency Aberjung Design Agency Modern Windows and Doors
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Regardless of the architectural style or size of a home, one inclusion is necessary; effective, beautiful windows. It goes without saying that a thorough consultation with a glazing specialist should be an integral part of your design process and it's easier than ever to find a company local to you, by using our directory of recommended professionals. Before you try to decide what types of windows you'd like in your home, let's take a look at some of the most pertinent considerations that will help you to make a perfectly informed choice. There's so much more to think about than just aesthetics, so let us give you some expert guidance.

Prices associated with window frames

Window frame price comparisons are essential, as what you might think is going to be the most cost-effective option for your home might actually transpire to be false economy. The main components that will affect prices are window glazing styles, as well as frame materials. As an example, a single-glazed aluminium window will be far cheaper than a triple-glazed bespoke wooden creation, but will it look right with the wider design of your house? Will the increased heating costs be a price that you're willing to pay? 

A general window frame guide, in terms of costs, goes as follows:

• Wooden: very expensive, as hardwood needs to be used and continually maintained.

• Fiberglass:  very expensive for a finish that is similar to vinyl.

• Vinyl: very affordable and often available with a repayment plan.

• Aluminum: expensive, when considered in terms of performance. 

• Composite: slightly more expensive than vinyl, due to construction methods, but frequently offered with a repayment plan.

Durability of window frame materials

There's absolutely no sense in choosing windows that are affordable in the short-term but won't offer any sort of longevity or guarantee of continued performance. 

The durability of your window frames will entirely hang on the material that you choose, with certain options needing little to no ongoing maintenance in order to always perform at an optimum standard. 

Vinyl and composite material windows are particularly durable, as their construction style allows for weather-resistant installations. At the other end of the scale is wood, which will need regular care, treatment and weatherproofing to resist the onset of rot. Never forget that whichever window frames you select, they will be facing the elements head-on for the entirety of their installation.

Insulation properties of window frames

There are a number of glazing coatings that you can add to your windows to reduce your heat loss by up to 50%, but the material that your frames are made from play a vital role as well.

Aluminum is considered to be the least efficient option, with vinyl and wood topping the list of heat-catchers. Vinyl frames, in particular, will suffer very little from contraction and expansion, which will lead to a consistently perfect seal at all times. The savings in heating costs alone will make it worth looking for the most efficient option.

Pros and cons of different materials

Every potential window frame material has a series of positive and negative points to take into account, with the most important being as follows:

• Wooden windows:

Pros - Durable, long-lasting, elegant and easily customized to suit any style of home. A tried and tested window frame material that will never go out of style and can be switched up simply with new paint or stain finishes.

Cons - Generally very expensive and in need of extensive maintenance, due to a tendency to be affected by inclement weather. 

• Aluminum windows:

Pros - Long-lasting, unaffected by constant sunlight exposure and ideal for creating a sleek and contemporary aesthetic. Rot and mold are nothing to be concerned about either.

Cons - Generally only cheaper than wood, aluminum frames are pricey and widely thought to be not very efficient, which means there will be a big on-cost after installation, in the form of heating bills.

• Vinyl windows:

Pros - Made from PVC, which is exceptionally versatile, vinyl windows are cost-effective to buy, easy to maintain and available in a wide variety of custom styles, making them easy to integrate into many architectural designs.

Cons - Not the strongest or most visually pleasing window frame option, some consumers find it hard to reconcile traditional properties and modern windows into a cohesive package. 

• Fiberglass windows:

Pros - Easy to maintain, extremely weather-resistant and fantastic in terms of insulation, fiberglass windows have many of the same positive properties as vinyl varieties, but are less common and expand at the same rate as the glazing panels.

Cons - A little expensive and can be dull or uninspiring in finish. Because there are more options for a smaller cost, consumers are more likely to opt for vinyl frames over fiberglass, as they are easier to come by.

Functionality of different window frame designs.

With insulation, cost and durability all taken into account, it's time to turn your attention to more aesthetic elements, such as your preferred functionality. You'll no doubt have an idea of how you'd like your windows to operate and look, which will naturally impact on which materials could, potentially, be suitable for you. For example, you are unlikely to choose vinyl when you want traditional and fully working sash windows, as wood is a far better and more natural choice.

Window frame shapes and sizes.

Finally, when you know how much you can reasonably spend, what levels of insulation you need and how much maintenance you can commit to, you can hone in on the shapes and sizes that your windows should be. This will allow you to make a final decision as to which frame materials are a distinct possibility. When you have a good grasp on what you want, you can take your wish list to a glazing professional and get the ball rolling.

For a host of frame materials inspiration, take a look at the homify window gallery.

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