Energy-efficient replacement windows can make a huge difference in any home as well as your energy bill. Even if your primary reason for upgrading your windows in Houston is just to improve appearance—you still end up with some other great benefits as well. Make sure you select the best window frame material.
If your goal is to improve energy efficiency, your options these days are more varied than ever. Technology and source materials have modern windows offering savings, beautiful aesthetics, and long-term value at all price points.
The Best Windows In Generations
Modern window frames are able to offer energy efficiency at levels that were unheard of 40 years ago—and window technology is still improving. When you buy replacement windows in Houston you can expect even budget models to reduce air infiltration and leakage down to immeasurable numbers.
When you opt for advanced glazings, you can shave up to nearly 42% off heating and cooling expenses. Not only that, but window manufacturing processes have made additional window features easily attainable rather than being a complex custom design. Double-hung windows, storm windows and even windows that require no painting along with many other kinds of advanced styles can be customized to suit your tastes.
This is due to the fact that window manufacturers have expanded offerings with advancements in the manufacturing materials, processes, machinery, and installation options. We are way past the old generation process that involved just ripping out the old window and installing an identical replacement. Now, you can remove your old windows and actually upgrade and change your window style as you see fit.
Choosing The Right Window Frame Material Is Crucial
Once you have decided that you want to replace your windows, you’ll need to decide on a window frame material. Modern window frames come in a wide variety of materials, including vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, composite, and traditional wood.
The key question to ask yourself is “What am I looking for in a window?” Once you’ve answered that question, you can best determine what material meets your needs. This requires some serious thought and consideration on your part based on some common criteria.
3 Factors You Should Consider To Guide Your Decision
Climate Zone- Where you live and the weather in that area will have a huge impact on what material will perform best for your needs. For example, if you have a beach house in a sub-tropical climate—wood windows can be very fickle in high humidity and require even more maintenance. Vinyl, on the other hand, is very durable in that type of environment.
Architectural Style- The style of your home also will dictate what material is best for you, especially if you live in a historic home. For example, in a Victorian-era home, vinyl windows would stick out like a sore thumb with all of the wood siding and intricate molding. However, wood would be a perfect frame material in this case.
Budget – Your budget is also going to dictate what material is feasible within your financial constraints. For example, while you may prefer the traditional look of wood—it is a very expensive material due to it being derived from a limited natural resource. Vinyl, on the other hand, is much more budget-friendly and even offers the added perk of being low maintenance.
Window Frame Material Options
Now you have a bit of guidance on choosing the right window frame material for your new windows. The next step is to educate yourself on the available material options and their characteristics. From there you can really hone in on your decision.
Wood window frames are aesthetically pleasing and are effective insulators. They keep the cool inside while resisting the heat outside and vice versa. Negatives of wood include its susceptibility to wear in humid and rainy regions and the maintenance required to keep their looks up.
Wood expands and contracts in response to the weather so sanding, painting, and sealing will be necessary. If you are looking for a window frame that you can install and forget about it— wood is not your ideal option. But if you are looking for traditional and historically accurate styling, wood is the best choice for those criteria.
Wood window frames are considerably more expensive, but that doesn’t automatically mean they are good quality windows. When shopping wood windows make sure you check for easy window operation and corners that fit snug. Any exposed wood needs to be blemish-free and you shouldn’t see any visible finger joints.
Vinyl frames are slowly chipping away at the dominance of wood frame windows due to their affordability, superior insulator qualities, and relatively low maintenance requirements. Vinyl frames can be built to fit any size opening, can be created in limitless color options, and clean with a simple spray of water and maybe a damp sponge.
However, vinyl does have some drawbacks. In hot climates such as Houston, vinyl windows can be susceptible to warping during hot Texas summers. Additionally, some homeowners simply do not like their look.
When choosing vinyl frames, look for uniform color throughout the frame. Joints should be heat-welded rather than fastened or screwed together. Also, keep in mind turnaround time on custom ordered vinyl windows—it can be from two to six weeks depending on who you order from.
Aluminum frame windows offer the same affordability and low maintenance that vinyl does, but adds increased durability—they won’t warp in the Texas heat and can withstand the Houston tropical storms.
However, aluminum frames also conduct heat and are prone to condensation in the winter; which if you’ve read our previous blogs—you know that can be troublesome. Even though aluminum has these drawbacks, it does make them a suitable low-budget option for warm clients such as Houston, where cooling expenses are far greater than heating expenses.
If you decide to go with aluminum windows, make sure you choose a model that has a thermal barrier in the frame. This is a strip of rubber or plastic that separates the inside and outside of the frame to help limit heat conduction and condensation.
While aluminum frames are lacking in insulation value, they make up for it in strength and durability. Metals frames, but they will stand up the rains. Inexpensive, strong, and low maintenance are the draws of the aluminum frame.
Wood clad frames combine the durability of other materials with the insulation value of wood. This is accomplished by constructing the exterior portion of the frame from strong, low maintenance materials while the interior is made with wood.
The result is a low maintenance frame with a high insulation value. Proper installation is crucial for longevity as shoddy workmanship can result in water damage to the wood interior.
Composite frames are composed of a mixture of wood byproducts and plastic. In appearance, they come close to their wood counterparts. Performance-wise, they are structurally sound, effective insulators and low maintenance.
Comparatively speaking, they match or surpass the thermal resistance of wood. Though they are made up of wood byproducts, composite frames handle moisture well in sub-tropical climate zones such as Houston.
Fiberglass frames are durable and offer excellent thermal resistance. These frames are resistant to corrosive air pollutants and will not warp due to temperatures or moisture.
They are suitable for industrial or coastal environments. Fiberglass and composite can go head to head as far as insulation; both outperform wood. The downside of fiberglass is the cost, even though they are more affordable than wood.
As with vinyl frames, make sure you choose fiberglass frames with heat-welded joints not fastened joints. Fastened or screwed together joints will always be outclassed by permanent heat-welded options.
You Choose The Window Frame Material. Superior Will Build It.
Once you weigh the pros and cons of each material and decide which is best for you. The next step is to find a reputable window manufacturer. Superior Window Company has been a leader in quality replacement windows in Houston for years.
All of our windows are made right here locally in TX, including the best option for homes in any climate—our hybrid reinforced vinyl window. It is the most energy-efficient window in the state and is stronger than fiberglass, wood, and regular vinyl. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation today!