Which Type of Window Material is the Best?

Not every window is made equally. Design and appearance can separate windows from one another, but a window’s materials can be a crucial part of how well it works. 

There is a wide selection of window materials to choose from. Choosing the best window type can also mean choosing the best combination of appearance, durability, efficiency, and insulation for your home. The best windows are durable, can withstand your local weather patterns, sport high energy efficiency, and have designs that complement your home. 

Wood Windows

Wood windows are a classic design choice for homeowners, and can give many homes a natural, old-fashioned flair. Wood windows are designed to last a long time, and wood is an effective natural insulator against extreme heat or cold.

However, wood can lose their shape by weather over time. Even everyday weather, like sun and humidity, can lead to rotting and warping. Misshapen window frames can loosen the seal on the frame and cause gases between the window panes to escape. These gases are a crucial part of window insulation, and less insulations means significant efficiency losses.

Wood can also be a target for insects and termites, which can infest your home and reduce the quality of your living space. To get rid of a termite infestation, you will often have to go to a pest control service, leading to more maintenance for your home. If windows are consistently maintained with painting, finishing, re-sealing, and even pest control, they can insulate your home and enhance your home’s look for decades. If not, you may be looking at window replacements sooner than you expect.

Traditional window frames, like single or double hung windows, can be blocky and reduce the amount of natural light coming in. This is especially true for wood frames, which are not typically thin.

While wood windows have aesthetic and practical benefits, you should also consider the potential repair costs for wood windows in your home. If regular maintenance is not on your to-do list when window shopping, there are other materials that require less upkeep.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass is made of plastic reinforced with woven glass fiber. It is a highly durable substance with low heat conduction. These properties make fiberglass a suitable choice for piping, roofing, protective equipment, and windows. Customization options for fiberglass windows were originally low, but today, fiberglass windows come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and even colors.

Unlike wood windows, fiberglass windows are resistant to pests and extreme weather. They tend to provide slightly more insulation than vinyl window. More insulation means less money spent on heating and air conditioning.

Due to the manufacturing process, fiberglass tends to be more expensive than other window types. Installation costs can also be higher compared to other windows. On the other hand, fiberglass windows are low-maintenance. Models that come with a factory finish do not need to be painted over, and their high durability means they can resist Missouri weather through all four seasons. 

Aluminum Windows

Aluminum windows often come with sleek, thin designs to complement more modern home aesthetics. Aluminum window frames have risen in popularity in recent years due to improvements to their design. They tend to withstand rain and harsh sunlight more than wood, and can be as resistant as fiberglass.

These windows are lightweight and durable, with weather- and scratch-resistant qualities. They tend to resist corrosion and will warp less in water compared to wood windows. A regular form of maintenance for aluminum windows is rinsing them, which does not require as much work as a paint or re-finish for a wood frame.

The thin, unobstructive frames of aluminum windows offer opportunities for natural lighting. More natural lighting in your home can improve mood, reduce electricity costs, increase productivity, and reduce stress. While wood frames often have blocky frames, aluminum frames can maximize the level of natural light in your home.

Aluminum windows frames traditionally have poor energy efficiency ratings, especially compared to wood or fiberglass. Recent advancements in aluminum window-making have improved ratings in recent years, though the efficiency rating still depends on the specific model. 

If you are considering aluminum windows for your home, you will have to determine whether the upsides of unobstructed views, durability, and low upkeep costs outweigh poor energy efficiency – especially in the diverse Kansas City climate. 

Other Factors to Consider

Some window designs offset the flaws that come with the material. Aluminum frames have started using thermal breaks to improve insulation. Wood frames still earn ENERGY STAR recognition despite their inherent flaws. Just as not all windows are made equally, design choices can change the effectiveness of materials.

Local weather patterns should also be considered when looking at window replacement services. Kansas City tends to endure near-freezing winters and sweltering, muggy summers, making extreme heat and cold a year-round factor.

Energy efficiency ratings on windows can help buyers get an idea for their potential savings on energy bills. Two ratings buyers look at are U-Factor and SHGC. U-Factor rates a window’s heat loss properties. Windows with lower U-Factor have less heat loss and thus better insulation. Solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC, measures the amount of heat from the sun a window absorbs.

Energy efficiency is just as important as design when looking at window types. The efficiency of a window also ties into its durability. If a window loses insulation over time, its efficiency also drops, which can drive up heating or cooling costs. Kansas City can fluctuate from snowy winters to sweltering summers, and energy costs are only going up. it is important to save on heating and cooling for your home whenever possible.

The most energy efficient windows are recognized by ENERGY STAR for their impressive design and high performance. Wood windows often earn ENERGY STAR honors, and so do fiberglass windows. This is often due to their extremely low U-Factor ratings, which means that have high insulation properties are a selling point of fiberglass windows.  

Choosing fiberglass or aluminum windows may be more appealing to homeowners who are worried about weather warping wood. ENERGY STAR rates windows based on how effective they are in different climates. Windows suitable for pleasant, temperate climates may not work in a varied climate like Kansas City.

Conclusion

Wood, aluminum, and fiberglass windows all have their upsides and downsides. The best window type for your house will depend on your budget, style, need for insulation, energy efficiency, and potential maintenance costs.

Due to the wide variety of weather that Missourians experience, your windows need to endure harsh weather conditions while staying durable. Fiberglass windows are both weather-resistant and reliable in the long-term, without any of the warping experienced by wood or the low insulation from aluminum. They are also low-maintenance, resistant to insects and termites, and have high insulation properties. If you are willing to take on the high installation price, fiberglass windows can pay dividends for your home for years to come.

Marvin windows combine pleasing window designs with high efficiency. Their fiberglass and wood models have earned ENERGY STAR certifications, thanks to a meticulous, detail-oriented process.

We can help with many popular types of windows for your Kansas City home. Open and Shut’s staff has helped to transform many living spaces by maximizing natural light and picking out materials for every client’s needs. If you’d like your home to be part of our next transformation, get a free quote online or call us at 913-586-OPEN.

If your home’s needs stretch beyond windows, Total Home offers award-winning remodeling services for full homes in Kansas City. We’ll be with you every step of the way, from planning to renovation. To learn more about how we can transform your home into a unique space you can love, contact us today.

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