Types Of Windows - Window Frame Materials and Hardware

Types of Windows - Window Frame Materials and Hardware

Your home's windows are a crucial element of its energy efficiency, security and curb appeal. Replacing your windows comes down to making the right choice regarding styles and materials. It's one area of your home where you shouldn't look to cut costs. The overall price of replacement windows directly depends on the style, quality of materials, the glass used, energy efficiency and warranties offered.

There are many different types of windows available. They feature wood, aluminum, vinyl or composite construction. As a general rule, when it comes to windows, you typically get what you pay for. While you may pay more upfront for quality replacement windows, over time they can pay for themselves by offering you better weather protection, lower maintenance, and even reduced energy costs.

While to a certain extent, you do get what you pay for when purchasing replacement windows, energy efficient windows are available at all price points to meet any budget. Here's a quick primer on the types of window frame materials and hardware available to help you begin your research process.

Types of Windows: Frame Materials

Replacement windows are made in a number of materials from natural wood to composite. The construction of your windows has much to do with their energy efficiency. Factors include the glazing (double pane, triple pane) the gas used as filler between the panes, and the material the frame is constructed from. Here are the most common frame materials for replacement windows.

Wood Windows

Wood is the most popular choice among homeowners. It is extremely efficient, doesn't conduct cold or allow condensation like other materials. However, wood can shrink and swell depending on the humidity so they may eventually warp or rot unless properly protected and maintained. If properly treated, wood windows can last trouble free for decades. Wood windows are typically unfinished, and there may be an extra expense to paint them. However, pre-painted windows are available from some manufacturers in a wide range of colors.

Clad Wood Windows

Many of today's windows are made with wood construction and then covered (or clad) with vinyl or aluminum. Window cladding is available in a range of colors, and both the sash and frame are usually clad. Cladded wood windows are practically maintenance free.

Vinyl Windows

Vinyl windows are constructed of heavy, rigid, impact-resistant PVC. They include a hollow air space inside the frame which makes them energy efficient and resistant to heat loss and condensation. They are affordable and efficient, but the can distort when exposed to extreme heat or cold. This can affect their operation and can make them prone to air leakage, and lower their energy efficiency.

Aluminum Windows

Aluminum windows are more durable than wood. They're also thinner, lighter, and easier to install. Aluminum windows are often insulated using foam or vinyl which can reduce heat loss and condensation. If you live in a coastal area, aluminum windows might not be the best choice as they can corrode over time due to the humid, salty air.

Steel Windows

Steel windows are expensive and generally used in commercial installations but are showing up in more residential homes. They are the most durable material, and if you have the budget, they're a great low-maintenance, attractive window that can last for years.

Types of Window Hardware

Operable windows are all equipped with hardware used for opening and closing the sash, latches, locks and more. Some today even have operable shades installed between the glass. Hardware can be functional or a decorative element of the window. There are many different types of windows. It's always best to speak with your designer or design-build remodeling contractor about which style is appropriate for your home. Here are some styles of window hardware available:

• Cranks – Casement, awning, hopper windows and skylights are all operated with cranks. Some manufacturers offer cranks with finishes that are non-metallic. Newer models have fold-away handles that are relatively inconspicuous.

• Hinges - The best quality casement, awning and hopper windows have room to fit your arm between the sash and frame for easy cleaning.

• Counterbalances – On double hung windows (those where both the top and the bottom sash is operable) the sash is counterbalanced on the sides using weights or torsion screws.

• Sliding Hardware – The sashes in most vinyl and aluminum replacement windows are light and able to slide in the sill tracks. Larger sashes like those found in sliding patio doors are typically supported by a heavy-duty roller on the bottom track.

• Window Security – Latches are used to tightly secure windows. On double-hung windows, a sash lock is used to connect the upper and lower sashes to keep them secure. Keyed locks can improve window security. Sliding patio doors can be forced open or lifted off tracks. To keep your patio door secure, insert a dowel into the interior tracks. Double hung windows can also lock using wedge locks, key operated latches or locking pins that prevent them from being fully opened.

Replacing windows during a home remodel is an essential element for the energy efficiency and security of your home. Your designer can help you to choose the types of windows that will complement the style of your home. When it comes to energy efficiency, the material, glazing and proper installation are all important factors. Your design-build-remodel contractor can help you to choose the appropriate window to meet the demands of your local weather and match the architectural style of your home.   

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.