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Pros & Cons of Different Frame Types for Replacement Windows

Cost, energy efficiency, and appearance are all important factors when choosing replacement windows. Frame type is one of the characteristics that can most affect those factors and could prove to be the make-or-break aspect of a given window. Aluminum, wood, and vinyl are the primary types of frames and the best one for your needs will depend on your specific circumstances.

Here are the pros and cons for the most common frame types for home replacement windows.

Aluminum Frames

Aluminum frames are one of the most durable and affordable options on the market. The trade-off is that these frames aren't great at protecting your home from outside heat and can let your winter indoor heat filter outside. That's because aluminum isn't a great insulator on its own.

You can improve an aluminum frame by getting a model with a thermal break, which is essentially built-in polyurethane insulation that snaps within the body of the frame. The end result still isn't as insulating as more expensive frame types, but is a good option for those on a tight budget. Aluminum frames are also a good choice for those who don't want to perform any maintenance on the window frames.

Vinyl Frames

Vinyl frames offer a combination of affordability, durability, and the potential for good insulation. The vinyl is weather resistant and will remain low maintenance during the long life of the product.

Standard vinyl frames are better than average on insulating but you can also get frames with additional insulating material stuffed inside the material. The insulation is a foam material that fills the interior spaces of the frame and isn't visible at all when looking at the frame. 

The one negative to vinyl windows is that the material isn't as visually attractive as wood. But vinyl tends to be more attractive than aluminum.

Wood Frames

Wood frames are considered attractive to many homeowners particularly if you have an older home with a lot of wooden features. The wood is fairly energy efficient but the material constricts and expands with temperature changes, which can cause damage and rot over time.

You can have the attractiveness of wood on the interior of your home and added durability for the exterior. Look for wood windows that have an exterior aluminum or vinyl coating that faces outside your home. The coating will protect the wooden frame from the harsh elements, which can minimize the damage from constriction and expansion, while keeping the look of warmth and elegance inside your home. 

Why would you want an aluminum covered wood window instead of a plain aluminum frame? Wood is often a better insulator than aluminum but aluminum is more durable under elemental exposure. The combination of wood and aluminum—or vinyl—offers the best of both worlds.

Price-wise, wood frames tend to fall at the higher end of the frame styles. But you might consider the price well worth the visual appeal. You can get a better idea of your price options by contacting companies like Treasure Valley Seamless Siding.