New windows can enhance the appearance of your home, inside and out. When chosen for functionally as well as style, they can make your home more comfortable and less costly to heat and cool too. In addition to selecting the design and size that you want for your new window installation, you'll need to decide what material that you want for the frames. The optimal choice will depend upon your specific application, your budget and the amount of time that you're willing to invest in maintenance.
The Great Debate: Wood vs. Vinyl Windows
When it comes to framing materials, wood and vinyl are the most popular options. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Wood frames account for around half of replacement window purchases. Vinyl frames are available at around half the price of comparable wood frames. Wood frames require regular painting, staining and/or sealing to protect them; vinyl models are virtually maintenance-free. Vinyl frames can't be painted, but they are available in a range of colors.
As a natural material, wood expands and contracts according to the weather and humidity levels. That can negatively impact their insulator capabilities. Wood frames are also available with vinyl or aluminium cladding, but they cost more than traditional wood models. The cladding covers the exterior while leaving the wood exposed on the interior. Because cladding makes the window easier to maintain and more energy efficient, the higher price may be worth the expense for those who prefer the look of wood.
Basic vinyl frames are hollow and can leak air. The most energy efficient window frames are vinyl models with cavities that are filled with insulation. When shopping for energy-efficient windows, it's important to remember that the overall efficiency depends upon window's pane as much as its frame.
Wood frames have an organic look that some home owners prefer over vinyl. Wood offers more decorative options than vinyl as well. Wood windows are a natural choice for historic homes and for homes with a traditional architectural style. The options for vinyl frames continue to grow in number, however, and for those who aren't willing to pay around twice as much for wood frames, vinyl can be an attractive alternative.
Whether with wood or vinyl frames, a new window installation adds instant curb appeal to a home's exterior and elevates the look of indoor living spaces as well. Considering issues like style, maintenance and cost as well as your personal preferences will guide you towards the option best for you.