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Six Types of Window Frames

People primarily replace their home's windows to save and pay less for energy. Quality, properly installed, energy-efficient windows certainly can result in lower utility costs. Some homeowners swap out their windows for ones that allow more sunlight into the home. Others simply want better-functioning, low-maintenance new windows.

Frame Options

If you are considering replacement windows for your home, here are your chief window frame choices along with the pros and cons of each:

  • Wood: These are natural insulators, look great, and can be embellished with paint or stain. They require maintenance. Otherwise, they can split, peel, or rot.
  • Vinyl: These are durable, inexpensive, energy efficient, maintenance free, and available in different colors. They can, however, warp in extreme temperatures, and the plastic-appearing texture turns off some people.
  • Steel: These are aesthetically distinctive, strong, weather resistant, and long lasting. However, they are bad insulators, may allow condensation to form, and need a well-maintained layer of paint to prevent rusting.
  • Aluminum: These are lightweight, durable, no maintenance, and rustproof. They are less energy-efficient than some of the other frame types. In cold weather, heat may escape through the sash and frame. In humid climates, condensation may collect on the inside.
  • Fiberglass: These are strong, durable, and more energy efficient than solid wood ones, but pricey. They can be painted, but will not deteriorate if the paint erodes.
  • Composite: These consist of multiple materials, therefore, serving more than one purpose. One combination, for example, has a wood interior for its aesthetics and a vinyl exterior for its weather resistance.

Determine which window frame qualities are most important to you--energy efficiency, aesthetics, low maintenance, durability, and cost--then check with your homeowner's association (if you belong to one) to be sure that your top choice conforms to your community guidelines for replacement windows.