Comparing 4 Common Window Frame Materials

Dec 19 2023 Posted By Ontario Window Reviews

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Are you shopping for new windows or looking for replacement windows? If so, we highly recommend you learn about the different types of window frame material, as they drastically impact performance, durability, price, and more.

But what are window frames made of? Generally, the most common frame materials for windows are vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fibreglass. In this article, we offer valuable insights on each to help you choose which will best meet your expectations.

Let’s get started!

    1. Vinyl Window Frames

Vinyl is one of the most popular window frame materials and arguably the most inexpensive contenders on our list. Despite being a low-cost material, it does not compromise quality or fall short in terms of durability, style, and longevity.

Vinyl windows are low maintenance because they don’t rot, chip, or break. They also don’t fade if constantly exposed to intense sunlight or warp after exposure to harsh weather conditions. This means they will last longer than you expect.

Vinyl Window Frames
Finishing and Customization ⚒️ ➡ Synthetic plastic finish
➡ Highly customizable
➡ Plenty of colour options to choose from
➡ Available for almost all window types
Durability 💪 ➡ Moisture resistance limits mould formation
➡ No maintenance required
➡ Fade and weather-resistant
Price 💸 ➡ Most inexpensive window option
➡ Price ranges from $150 to $900
Energy Efficiency ⚡ ➡ Resists energy transfer
➡ Frames can be insulated

    2. Wood Window Frames

Some homeowners prefer wooden windows for their rustic aesthetic appeal and natural insulating benefits. However, wood is one of the more expensive materials for windows and and requires regular treatment and/or sealing with paint. Direct exposure to sunlight can also make wooden shutters fade, crack, and shrink.

Some window companies offer cladding as an option, which involves applying another material on top of the wood to shield it from weather damage. Wooden windows can therefore come in aluminum, vinyl, and fibreglass cladding.

Wood Window Frames
Finishing and Customization ⚒️ ➡ Timeless and stylish
➡ Choose between paints or stains to match your home aesthetic
➡ Available as “unfinished” units so you can choose the colour shade you want
➡ Available for cladding (aluminum, vinyl, and fibreglass options)
Durability 💪 ➡ Long-lasting with routine maintenance
➡ Vulnerable to direct sunlight
➡ Prone to fading, cracking, and shrinking
➡ Non-moisture resistant; prone to rotting and moulding
Price 💸 ➡ $150 to $1,800
➡ Prices increase if you add cladding and insulation
Energy Efficiency ⚡ ➡ Wood frames are good insulators
➡ Adding window panes with good R and U Values can increase energy efficiency

    3. Aluminum Window Frames

Aluminum is one of the most popular window frame materials because it’s strong, light, and long-lasting. It’s perfect for giving your home a contemporary and industrial vibe.

However, a known con is its energy efficiency as metal conducts heat and is therefore an impractical insulation material. To solve this concern, some window companies provide aluminum windows with thermal break, which is an insulating plastic strip placed between the interior and exterior parts of the frame and sash.

Aluminum Window Frames
Finishing and Customization ⚒️ ➡ Elevated aesthetics
➡ Available in multiple colour ways
➡ Suitable for different window types
Durability 💪 ➡ Strong, malleable, and lightweight
➡ Will remain corrosion-resistant with regular maintenance
Price 💸 ➡ $500 to $1,200
➡ Aluminum frames with thermal break add-ons cost more
Energy Efficiency ⚡ ➡ Poor energy efficiency unless equipped with a thermal break
➡ Adequate performance compared to other types with a thermal break

    4. Fibreglass Window Frames

Out of all the types of window frame material, nothing beats fibreglass when it comes to energy efficiency, durability, and longevity. There’s no doubt that it is definitely a more hardy material than wood or vinyl.

However, the main downside of fibreglass windows is they command a steep price tag and are rarely offered by Ontario window companies. As such, fibreglass is perhaps the least used out of all the frame materials for windows.

Fibreglass Window Frames
Finishing and Customization ⚒️ ➡ Limited customization options for styling and colouring
➡ Available in thin and thick frames
Durability 💪 ➡ Low-maintenance
➡ Moisture, warp, corrosion, rot and weather-resistant
➡ Immune to chemical degradation
➡ The strongest among the types of window frame material
Price 💸 ➡ Prices start at $400 and increase once you consider the size and window style
Energy Efficiency ⚡ ➡ The most energy-efficient window material
➡ Has low thermal expansion
➡ Can be paired with Low-E glass panes

Which Should You Choose?

All frame materials for windows have their pros and cons. Ultimately, what matters most is finding the one that suits your home and lifestyle.

When it comes to types of window frames, we recommend:

  • Vinyl for homeowners looking for an affordable option that is durable and requires the least amount of maintenance.
  • Wood for antique-style homes where aesthetics are key, especially in climates where staying warm is a priority.
  • Aluminum for homeowners looking for a more modern aesthetic who don’t mind putting a bit of extra effort into regular cleaning.
  • Fibreglass for performance-focused buyers looking to improve their home energy efficiency and reduce noise pollution.

A woman asleep on a grey couch inside a sunroom

Work With Experienced Window Manufacturers

Knowing which type of window frame material is best for your home is great, but durability and performance also depend on the window company you choose. Materials can only do so much if the manufacturing and/or installation isn’t up to par!

Ontario Window Reviews can help, as we offer an extensive directory of companies based in Ontario with high-quality feedback written by their clients. We’ll provide you with the information and resources you need to make an informed decision.

If you need more assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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