Your home is one of the most expensive purchases made in life. It's also a major investment, so it's important to do your research on what type of windows you want for your new custom home. In this blog post we will discuss various types of windows including: wood windows, vinyl windows, and aluminum windows. We'll also talk about the pros & cons associated with each material. Finally, we'll discuss costs as well as how long these types of windows typically last.
Types of Windows
There are various styles of windows, like bay windows, picture windows, or box windows. Yet for this article, we'll be focusing on the types of windows in terms of materials like; wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and vinyl.
The types of windows for your home are important as they affect not only the aesthetic, but the ventilation and energy efficiency of your home as well. So while installing windows in your custom home is a fairly large expense, it will also hit you in your pocket book down the road in energy efficiency or the lack thereof.
So what is the best type of window? That answer depends on factors such as:
- Style of home
- Durability required
- Maintenance expectations
- and more.
There isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer. Weigh your own situation as you learn about the different types of windows and materials they're made of to determine which is right for you.
Window materials can vary in composition, each having their advantages and disadvantages. Below we'll outline some of the pros and cons of wood vs vinyl windows, as well as some others.
Wooden windows are a great choice for a multitude of reasons. Wood is a natural and sustainable resource that can be made into any shape or form.
- Wooden windows are very strong and durable.
- Wooden windows tend to have a higher R-value and lower U-value, meaning they're better at blocking heat in the winter and cold in the summer.
- Wooden windows allow for the exterior and interior to be different colors.
- Wooden windows need to be painted or sealed not just at the time of installation, but throughout the life of the window.
- They cost more than vinyl or other types of windows.
- They can be harder to get with longer backorder times.
Vinyl windows have taken the market by storm, outpacing all other types of windows on the market.
- Plentiful and usually easier to get.
- Vinyl windows usually cost less than other types of windows.
- No maintenance needed.
- Vinyl windows usually only come in white or brown, as manufacturers have had a hard time creating dark vinyl windows that don't fade.
- Vinyl windows tend to be hollow, so air has an easier time getting through these windows, hense not as good at insulating the home.
- Can you paint vinyl windows? Sort of. You can't paint directly on unprepared vinyl windows. A lot of work and preparation is required to paint these types of windows.
Fiberglass windows provide the best of both worlds: they’re a durable but affordable material that is vaguely reminiscent of wood. For that reason, they're often thought of as a compromise between wooden windows and vinyl windows.
- Fiberglass windows are strong and durable.
- Glass is a good insulator, and fiberglass windows don't expand or contract to allow air space, earning them a good energy efficiency rating.
- Fiberglass windows are low maintenance.
- Limited color choices and you typically don't want to paint fiberglass windows.
- Fiberglass windows cost more than vinyl windows.
Aluminum windows are a popular choice for building a modern home because they provide easy maintenance with an affordable price.
- Aluminum windows are strong and durable, usually outlasting vinyl windows.
- Flexibility. Aluminum windows can be easily bent into custom shapes.
- Aluminum windows are low maintenance.
- Aluminum windows are a poor insulator.
- Because of the poor insulation of aluminum windows, condensation can be a problem.
- You would not want to use Aluminum windows for your beach home as they corrode in the sea air.
What about painting aluminum window frames?
Yes you can paint aluminum windows, if you take the proper steps. Make sure and clean them thoroughly, mask off any area that should not have paint, prime them, and then they should be ready to paint.
Wood Clad Windows
Wood clad windows are characterized by an interior facing wood frame paired with a vinyl exterior, giving the exterior extended weather resistance.
- Wood clad windows give the best of both worlds. They give beauty on the interior and durability on the exterior.
- Lots of color choices.
- Solid wood frames make for excellent insulating properties.
- The interior will require on-going maintenance.
- The exterior loses the beauty of wood.
Composite windows are made of wood fibers and thermoplastic polymers, offering better energy efficiency than wood. Additionally, composite allows for custom sizes to be created more readily in comparison to other materials.
- Very low maintenance.
- Lots of color choices.
- Excellent energy efficiency, even better than wood.
- Limited number of manufacturers can cause availability issues.
Which Type of Window Is Right For You?
The best window material is not a cut and dry answer, it will depend on the requirements of your project, budget, level of desired maintenance, and desired energy efficiency. It's a big decision that should be made with the help of your custom home builder. Get their advice, they may bring up some considerations that you hadn't thought of before. Contact us today to start a conversation about your dream custom home - let's make it a reality!