Windows, Skylights & Glazing

Window Frame Tips







Window frames are an important part of a window's overall energy efficiency.
Maintenance is a critical issue. Some window frames are maintenance free, while others need annual attention. Lifestyle and tolerance for repair and restoration should determine the window frame you choose, along with energy efficiency and budget.

Fiberglass and Composite Frames

Fiberglass frames can be glass-fiber-reinforced polyester or other Fiberglass composites. Choose an insulated Fiberglass frame to achieve or surpass the thermal efficiency of wood - not all Fiberglass frames are insulated. Choose a Fiberglass frame without metal spacers and rubber gaskets. Instead, inquire about silicone foam or polymer, and butyl-wrapped materials. Because Fiberglass composite frames are new to the marketplace, it's uncertain how color choices will stand up to long-term weathering. Darker colors may fade. When purchasing, look for uniform color throughout the frame.

Fiberglass is not the only composite frame. Composites of wood particleboard, wood polymers and a mix of resins (similar to the natural resins used in plastics) are being used to make hybrid frames. Window frame technology is moving at lightening speed and composites promise many new choices in the future.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Vinyl-Clad Wood Frames

Advantages

The strongest of all residential windows Highly energy efficient Exterior is wood covered with a thin vinyl coating The interior frame is natural wood Virtually maintenance-free

Disadvantages

More expensive than wood - the most expensive of all the options

Wood Frames

Wood, while undeniably the most aesthetically attractive choice, needs attention to detail, and annual maintenance will appreciably extend the life span. Rotting wood or debris in cracks should be removed with a pointed object (like a screwdriver), and then filled with epoxy putty. When purchasing new wood windows, ask the manufacturer or vendor if you can expect tight-fitting joints, unblemished surfaces and invisible finger joints. If the answer is yes, check them when they are delivered and reject all that do not meet your standards.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Vinyl PVC

Vinyl PVC means poly-vinyl chloride. Shop for vinyl windows that are manufactured with a thermal break. The thermal break is usually an internal metal network that strengthens the window, as well as improving its energy efficiency. Look for joints that are heat-welded rather than joined with screws or other fasteners, and a uniform color throughout the frame.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Aluminum Frames

Thermally improved frames are the best of aluminum frames. A "thermally-improved" frame decreases heat loss and improves energy efficiency by the addition of a non-conductive material between the aluminums on the interior and exterior of the window. This addition is known as a "thermal break." Thermally improved aluminum frames are superior to standard aluminum frames.

Aluminum framed windows should be considered only with a thermal break. The thermal break in aluminum windows is usually a strip of rubber or plastic, placed between the inner and outer frame. The thermal break lowers the ability of air to pass through the aluminum. Without the thermal break, the window will not be energy efficient.

Advantages

Disadvantages