Window materials come with lots of choices. But, finding the right one is important both for the success of your project and the integrity of your home. While each material has its advantages, they also have their respective disadvantages. This depends on both the structure you want to build and your actual goal. In addition, no one wants to replace new installations because of poor choices, so you must make the right choice for the long term. Therefore, today, we bring you essential information for selecting the best window materials for your project.
Essential Tips for Selecting the Best Window Materials
If you’re following a theme for your home’s design, consider materials that complement its general appeal. It also must look cohesive with the rest of the structure’s materials. In addition, it’s important to consider the climate in your area, the materials available, and your budget. This article compiles the different window materials commonly available and how you can choose the best fit for your project. In fact, this helps you whether it’s for a new home or your windows are simply due for replacement.
Types Of Window Materials
The windows of your home are crucial elements for aesthetics, energy efficiency, and security. Of course, that’s the primary reason for selecting the best window materials for your particular project.
Initially, when it comes to the materials, there are important factors and considerations you must include in your planning process. Let’s start with six of the most common materials used in windows. We also go over their pros and cons to help you decide which one works best for your home.
Vinyl has an excellent thermal performance rating which is its major advantage. Additionally, it’s lower in cost than other materials. It’s also available in a wide variety of colors, but you may also paint it the color you desire. However, it might have a lower lifespan than the other window materials. For instance, in extreme sunlight, it loses its quality faster. When that happens, its level of expansion and contraction goes up with changing temperatures. Additionally, although they have wider frames available, the customization options are often limited.
Wood has a beautiful and exceptional appearance. As a window material, it protects your home from harsh temperatures and outdoor noises with its natural insulating properties. Wooden materials also add a natural look that is warm and inviting. They’re also more visually appealing than other materials and are the best choice for a traditional house design. You can also paint wood to enhance its look or match it with the rest of the colors in your house.
However, this beauty comes at a relatively high price. To maintain wood, you must do regular cleaning, painting or staining, and caulking to keep their appearance. Routine maintenance is essential if you want it to last longer. Without regular maintenance, wood becomes susceptible to damage from water, moisture, and sun. Unfortunately, this causes it to rot and disintegrate.
Fiberglass windows are made of reinforced resin and glass fibers, which are what make this material strong and durable. They’re incredibly energy-efficient and eco-friendly. For example, they are recyclable and withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures. However, this means they don’t contract, warp, or expand in changing temperatures. Fiberglass materials for windows are ideally mechanically made to get a high-quality, reliable, and consistent material.
It can also be made to mimic a wooden appearance, which can make it a more durable alternative to wood. Fiberglass isn’t affected by moisture and therefore doesn’t rot, grow mold or corrode. The downside is the cost which is more expensive. There are also fewer color options from which to choose. Also, because the material is rigid, installation is challenging and often takes more time. This also means more labor costs.
If you’re looking for a more modern look for your home, aluminum windows are an excellent option. They look smooth and sleek and are low maintenance. They’re also lightweight and support expansive glass materials. This is ideal if you want more natural light coming into the house.
However, they’re good heat conductors, which means they’ll heat up faster than the other materials. In hot summer months, your house might feel like a sauna, which makes your air conditioning work extra hard. Also, in the same way, they conduct heat faster, they lose it faster, making them poor insulators and the least energy-efficient material. In areas near saltwater, they also get rusty.
Composite window materials are made of a mixture of wood products such as particleboard and laminated lumber. The wood composite is mixed with polymer plastics. This combination is of excellent quality and can make stronger window materials. It’s stable and has similar structural and thermal properties as wood, but they provide better resistance against moisture, warping, and rotting. They can also be painted or stained to mimic a real wooden appearance.
However, the quality of composite materials can vary from one manufacturer to the other. The material also comes at a relatively higher cost.
Wood-clad windows give your windows the elegance of wood without the maintenance hassle. They’re made of solid wood, but the exterior is clad with another more low-maintenance material such as fiberglass, vinyl, or aluminum. Similar to composite, this material merges the best qualities of two materials to create a product that performs better. Wood-clad materials will give you the appealing attributes of wood but with the protective qualities of hard plastics or metals.
However, they’re not completely maintenance-free. You must inspect your windows regularly to ensure that the cladding isn’t separating. You can paint or stain the interior as part of maintaining the material as well. Wood-clad materials are also relatively expensive, and there’s a risk of the clad separating from the wood.
Criteria For Choosing The Best Window Materials
After considering the pros and cons of the materials you want to use for your windows, here are other important criteria that you also need to consider.
You might already have a specific look in mind when you started your project. Each material has a different appearance, although the more versatile ones such as composite and fiberglass materials can also be painted or stained to look like wood. In terms of versatility in design and color, wood materials are one of the best choices. However, you’ll have to be ready for the maintenance it requires.
Some materials obviously require more care than others. Wood, for instance, requires regular treatment to keep it from termite infestation, rot, and warping or cracking from heat and moisture. On the other hand, fiberglass and vinyl don’t need much care and can withstand a wide range of climates. If you can’t commit to regular maintenance, it’ll be wiser to go for the low-maintenance materials instead.
If you’re on a tight budget, vinyl windows offer the best price options among all window materials. In good climatic conditions, they can also last for a very long time. As for fiberglass, they tend to be priced higher than vinyl. Woods materials vary in price but are more expensive than fiberglass. Composites are also considered more costly than fiberglass and vinyl materials.
Fiberglass is considered to be the strongest window material, although composites are also deemed to be quite strong. The durability of a material is measured by its resistance to temperatures and other elements such as water, parasites, salt, etc. If you live in an area with harsher climates year-round, it’s best to invest in the strongest to ensure selecting the best window materials for your project.
⎆ R-Value and E-Value
These are the measurements of heat transfer in a window material. The R-Value measures how much a material can resist heat, which is helpful to keep indoor temperatures comfortable during hot seasons. If the material has a higher R-Value, that means it will perform better in keeping the heat in the wintertime and keeping it cool during hot summer days. Inversely, the U-Value is the measure of how fast the material will lose heat. Lower U-Value is considered better for regions with cold climates.
The climate in the area you’re building the structure in matters a lot. Weather conditions and temperatures have the biggest impact on the lifespan of window materials, so your choice should match the climatic conditions in your region. Fiberglass is suitable for hot areas because of its ability to absorb heat and resist damage from the sun’s rays over time. On the other hand, using wood in areas that get more rainfall is not a good choice for selecting the best window materials.
As early as the planning stage, taking the time to do some research will help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing the best wood material for your home or project. If at the end you still feel unsure, consult with professional contractors that specialize in window installation services. Learn and understand the maintenance that your chosen material will require, and make sure that you can keep up with it in the long term.
If you have any questions or suggestions, we always love to hear from you in the comments below. Also below are links to more fantastic articles about ALL things DESIGN for your home or business.
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