Four Pillars of a Great Replacement Window Experience: Window Frame (Part I)
There are four main pillars that make up a great replacement window experience. Like a chair with a broken leg, missing just one of these will adversely affect your happiness with your new windows. In this multi-part series, we will discuss the first of these pillars: the window frame material. This post will refer to some of the first window frame materials: Wood, Steel and Aluminum. In our next post we will discuss Vinyl and Composite replacement window frames.
Your Window Frame
Over time, many materials have been used for the window frames: wood, metal, plastics and composites.
One of the first materials to frame window glass, wood window frames have been around for centuries and are still used by many manufacturers today. Among Wood Windows’ appeal to many are the classic warm appearance of wood, its relative energy efficiency, and its flexibility to match many architectural styles and decors through staining or painting. Among Wood Windows’ less appealing attributes are the regular maintenance requirements of scraping, painting and sealing, proclivity to rot and insect damage and limited species availability.
Stronger than wood so it is able to be used in much thinner profiles to expose more window glass and less frame, steel is used infrequently in residential windows today. While steel window frames are strong, they have a number of drawbacks that have caused them to fall out of favor, most notably, their efficient conduction of heat and cold. Steel window frames can get dangerously hot in summer and frigidly cold in winter, bringing outside temperatures inside and driving up heating and cooling costs. In fact, it was not uncommon for steel window frames to build up inches of ice on the inside of the frame as the moisture in the home’s air condensed and froze on the window frames. Steel also requires a great deal of annual maintenance. To keep the steel from rusting, it has to be scraped, sanded and repainted nearly every year.
Another metal, aluminum, has some of steel’s strength and somewhat less of its conductive properties, but is still is not as energy efficient as wood or other materials used today. As a semi-strong metal, aluminum window frames can be made in thin profiles to maximize the window’s glass area. Advances in glazing techniques developed something known as a “thermal break” that helped reduce the transfer of exterior temperatures to the interior, but aluminum window frames are still very cold in winter and very warm in summer. Because aluminum is not as corrosive as steel, aluminum window frames tend to be left their natural silver color, which many people find objectionable as it does not match their home’s architectural style or their personal taste in decor. Aluminum window frames are also available in a limited number of paint colors.
In our next post we will discuss two of the most popular window frame materials used today: Vinyl and Composite Window Frames.’