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What is the best window material? 3 factors to consider

What is the best window material?

When it comes to your windows, the options are endless. Although it can be overwhelming, in the end, it’s a good thing — it means you’re able to get the exact windows you need for your home with the look and price you want. With that being said, weeding through all the different options can be a bit confusing.

There are different frames, glass types, and glazings to decide on, and different climate considerations, all in addition to price. Plus, not every frame is good for every home, and not every glass will keep your energy bills down. It’s important for your budget and your stress level to take a minute to understand all the factors that make up a good window before you dive in.

What is the best window material?

Frames

Window material options.

Fairly self-explanatory, the frame holds the glass panes in place and provides the seal between your window and your walls. What’s not as self-explanatory, however, is how each frame material can impact your budget, style, and window performance.

Wood

Great for insulation and style, wooden frames are popular in older homes for their charming look and homey aesthetic. They’re easy to paint and come in a variety of shapes and styles, making them a great choice for homeowners who want to opt for a lot of character in their windows.

The downside of being a pure, natural resource is that wooden window frames are prone to rot and cracking. They often need a lot of upkeep to stay looking as pretty as they do on install day. They may need even more attention if you live in a warm, humid climate, as that speeds up the chance for mildew and decay.

Fiberglass

Durable and resilient to the weather, fiberglass frames need much less maintenance and upkeep than wooden frames, and they’re able to mimic their natural appearance. Good insulators with great energy-efficiency and color options, fiberglass frames are ideal for people who value durability as much as style.

Still a little new to the market, many fiberglass frames have a few small issues to get worked out. Their colors tend to fade over time, and they may take a little longer to arrive once they’re purchased, as they are custom ordered.

Aluminum

Aluminum frames are great in warm, rainy, humid climates, as they are rot resistance and can stand up to hurricane-like weather. They are easy to paint and style, and are some of the best frames on the market for maintenance and upkeep.

Due to their metal base, however, aluminum frames conduct heat, bringing warm air into your house in the summer and sucking the heat out during the winter. Because of this, aluminum frames are not highly rated for energy-efficiency and can hurt your electricity bills down the road.

Vinyl

With the ability to withstand harsh UV light and high energy-efficiency ratings, vinyl frames are a popular choice for many homeowners. Little maintenance is required to keep these frames in tip-top shape, and they come in a wide variety of colors and styles to match your home.

However, not everyone likes the look of vinyl windows, and as a result, they are not popular choices for historic homes. Vinyl windows can’t be painted and offer little flexibility when it comes to customization once they’re installed. So, it’s important to make sure that you know what style you want as you’re shopping for vinyl windows.  

Read: Ready for a window renovation? How to get started

Glass

When picking the glass for your windows, make sure to pay attention to its energy rating. These numbers can help you pick out the most energy-efficient window for your home. The better the rating, the more likely you’ll be able to save money on your electricity bills down the line.

Heat Mirror Glass

Heat mirror windows like LONG’s Quantum2  block 99.7% of UV light and insulate with the same strength as a wall. Quieter than most double-pane windows, heat mirror windows have a lightweight, suspended film technology that maximizes the natural light brought in from outside, while reflecting harmful UV rays.

Tempered glass

Best known for its safety benefits, tempered glass will shatter into dull, tiny pieces instead of large, sharp shards. It’s typically used when required by code for safety reasons or if it’s being placed in high traffic, damage-prone areas like by front or backdoors.

Insulated glass

Insulated glass is when two or more panes of glass are spaced apart then hermetically sealed, allowing for the air between the panes to act as insulation between your home and the outside world. They are often filled with a gas like argon in order to provide better insulation and keep heating and cooling bills down.

Style

Window style.

As important as energy efficiency is for your new windows, it’s hard to appreciate your savings if your house is an eyesore. How your new windows look on your home feels as important as how well they function.

The most common style of windows is double-hung windows. This style allows you to move both the top and bottom sashes independently, unlike single-hung windows where only the bottom sash can be opened. Casement windows are great for insulation and blend well with older homes due to their wide frames and casings. They also provide a solid seal against wind and weather. If you have the wall space, you can try adding a bay or bow window, enhancing the character of your home while adding a lot of additional light to your interiors.

Picture, garden, awning, hopper, and sliding windows are other options that you can consider when picking out your windows, though they are usually chosen to fit more specialty needs like basement, bathroom, and kitchen windows.

Read: Long Roofing window options showcase

Need new windows? We can help.

The window experts at LONG can work with you to find the best window material for your home and budget. Contact Long Windows at 866-270-7058 or visit us online to request an estimate to get started on your window replacement today.