At one time, wood was the only real choice for your window frames – just as it was the only choice for doors, roofs, and virtually all areas of house construction. As new technology developed, vinyl window frames became increasingly popular. These days, the new kid on the block is fiberglass. As you get ready to replace your windows, choose the frame that's best going to meet your needs.
In traditional and historical homes, wood is still considered the gold standard for window frames. The downside to wood is it requires yearly maintenance to keep it free of rot and insects. This maintenance involves inspecting the windows and repairing any cracks. The frames may need to be re-stained every few years, depending on the climate conditions in your area.
Wood has many upsides. First off, the fact that it should be re-stained means it can be stained. This makes it customizable. What's more, the graining and natural beauty of wood speaks to a luxurious material choice. Wood is also a good insulator.
Vinyl windows have been on the market since the 1970s. They offer a distinctive profile, and this is their major downside. Vinyl frames feature fusion-welded seams and limited color choices. What's more, it's very difficult if not impossible to paint vinyl. Some contractors have had luck with epoxy-based paint, but typically the color you buy is the color you keep.
As This Old House points out, though, vinyl windows are the most economical choice. They're also wildly popular not only because of their budget-friendly price tag, but also because vinyl is a very durable material. The color extends through the frame, so nicks and scratches don't show. The material is also a poor thermal conductor, which means it offers great insulating properties.
Fiberglass is a relatively new addition to the window frame scene. Fiberglass windows do cost more than vinyl. They also come in limited colors.
Unlike vinyl, though, fiberglass window frames can be painted. What's more, the material is highly durable and requires little to no maintenance. Indeed, fiberglass windows are essentially all glass. This consistency in material means there's no expansion and contraction due to temperature variations. Therefore, seals typically don't fail in fiberglass windows. Finally, fiberglass can be constructed to mimic wood.
When you go to make your choice, consider how much up-front cost you're willing to pay along with future maintenance you're willing to make. That helps you determine which window frame material is right for your home. For more information, contact companies like Beissel Window & Siding.