Purchasing replacement windows for your home is something you want to get right the first time. Yes, they can be a significant investment upfront, but there are many benefits of installing durable, efficient windows. If installed correctly, they can deliver everything from enhanced home energy efficiency and security to show-stopping aesthetics and curb appeal. And while installation is essential, the materials used during the manufacturing process are instrumental in determining the performance of your window units. With that in mind, let’s have a look at three popular frame materials — wood vs vinyl vs aluminum windows — and compare and contrast the features and benefits they offer.
Browse This Content:
- Understanding Wood Windows
- Understanding Aluminum Windows
- Understanding Vinyl Windows
- Introducing a Better Alternative: Hybrid Fusion Frames
Understanding Wood Window Frames: The Pros and Cons
There is a lot to love about wooden window frames, but also quite a lot to question. Let’s dig into the pros and cons of this classic window material.
The Pros of Wood Windows
Style and Aesthetics: As far as looks and style go, wood is tough to beat. Warm, traditional, rustic, and premium, wood windows deliver a look and feel that is frequently replicated but never matched. It’s telling that many window companies offer their customers wood laminate overlays to help them capture the classic look without committing to the price (more on that later). If they are properly maintained and in good condition, wooden windows can add value to your home.
Insulation: Considering how long they have been in use, it’s not surprising to learn that wooden window frames are excellent insulators. Why? As a material, wood has a very low thermal conductivity, meaning that it discourages heat transfer. This means that these windows are effective at both keeping heat inside the home during the winter and keeping excess heat out during the summer months. While they do not deliver the same level of thermal performance as vinyl windows, wooden frames are still a good choice from an insulation standpoint.
Sound: In addition to heat insulation, wooden windows are also a very effective buffer against excess outside noise.
The Cons of Wood Windows:
Cost: In most cases, wooden windows have a much higher upfront cost than other frame options. Yes, they deliver a high aesthetic value, but you will have to pay a premium to get it.
Susceptibility to Various Forms of Damage: Over time, wood windows can become prone to rot, mildew, weathering, and even insect damage. Wooden frames can expand and contract in climates that fluctuate between hot summers and colder winters. This can lead to irreparable damage and the need for replacement windows.
Regular Maintenance and Upkeep: Wooden window frames require quite a lot of maintenance and upkeep over time to avoid the problems we just discussed. From painting and staining to sanding and treating, wood will only retain its finer aspects so long as homeowners are willing to put the work in to maintain them on a regular basis. One of the most significant issues with wooden frames is the fact that the corners of the frame cannot be welded together as they can with vinyl windows. Instead, these miter joints are fastened together with screws. Over time, this can lead to water penetration in the corners.
Understanding Aluminum Window Frames: The Pros and Cons
For all of its strength, durability, there are also some question marks surrounding standalone aluminum window frames. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons.
The Pros of Aluminum Windows
Strength and Durability: Aluminum is a lightweight material that is very strong and durable. This makes it much easier to install and results in a longer lifespan than standalone vinyl replacement windows.
Low Maintenance: Because aluminum frames are so strong and durable, they do not require a lot of upkeep or maintenance over time. This is especially true with anodized aluminum which is corrosion resistant.
Thinner Frames: Unlike thicker standalone vinyl frames, aluminum window frames can afford to be thinner due to their strength. This allows for greater glass surface area and more natural light transmittance.
The Cons of Aluminum Windows
Poor Energy Efficiency & Insulation: Unlike wood and vinyl, aluminum has a very high thermal conductivity, meaning that heat transfers very easily through the material. While weatherstripping and thermal breaks can help, standalone aluminum frames are simply not an effective means of insulation in climates where cold winters are common.
Condensation: Standalone aluminum frames are very susceptible to interior condensation. While this is not a major problem with the window itself, it can be an inconvenience and can even lead to mold and mildew in and around the window sill if it is left unaddressed. It can also mean that you have to deal with very cold windows in the wintertime, and potentially even ice forming on the interior of the frame. Conversely, in the summertime, the frames can get exceedingly hot.
Understanding Vinyl Window Frames: The Pros and Cons
An incredibly popular choice for replacement windows, standalone vinyl windows are everywhere. But are they the best choice? Let’s have a look.
The Pros of Vinyl Windows
Affordability: While it should by no means be the only factor to consider when seeking out replacement windows, the low cost of vinyl makes it a very attractive frame material for homeowners looking to replace their windows on a tighter budget. Compared to wood and aluminum windows, vinyl is the lowest-cost option.
Low Maintenance and Upkeep: Unlike wood windows which require regular staining, painting, sanding, and more, vinyl windows are very easy to clean, won’t rot or rust, and do not require any painting or sanding.
Energy Efficiency: Vinyl is a very energy-efficient material due to its low thermal conductivity. The hollow cavities inside standalone hollow vinyl frames can also be filled with insulation for added protection. What’s more, vinyl frames come with welded corners which help create a watertight seal.
The Cons of Vinyl Windows
Wear & Tear/Expansion & Contraction: While vinyl is a popular frame material due to its cost-effectiveness and its advantages when it comes to energy efficiency, these attributes don’t make up for the structural flaws. In the context of vinyl vs. aluminum windows, these frames lack strength, rigidity, and durability. They are disposable products that are highly susceptible to wear and tear as well as expansion and contraction in the heat of Canadian summers and the bitter cold of the winters.
Aesthetics: Vinyl frames are often thicker resulting in lost natural light transmittance and bulky-looking window units that do nothing to enhance the look of a home. Why are they so thick? It’s ultimately a matter of structural integrity.
Introducing a Better Alternative: Hybrid Fusion Frame Technology®
We began as a manufacturer of aluminum window frames. As a result, we have always had an appreciation for strength and durability when it comes to window frames. However, as we have talked about, the main detractor with aluminum frames is their lack of insulation and poor U-Factor. Conversely, vinyl window frames come with a number of structural flaws, yet perform very well from an efficiency and insulation standpoint.
The logic behind our Hybrid Fusion Frames is simple: we wanted to combine the strength and durability of aluminum and galvanized steel with the excellent insulating properties of vinyl PVC. The result is a stronger, more efficient window frame that will perform well and require little to no maintenance for 40 years or more. Rather than pit vinyl vs. aluminum windows against each other, we built a frame that took the best from both worlds. No more having to choose between vinyl vs aluminum windows!
More Strength Means More Style
Hybrid Fusion Frames come standard with a slim, stylish profile that places visual emphasis on the window’s glass and the outdoors beyond. The profile of our frames is a full three inches thinner than our competition. This ultra-thin design reduces the frame’s size and maximizes the glass surface to create a more contemporary look. Plus, homeowners can also choose to customize the look of these high-performance frames.
With a wide range of colours and textures to choose from, we can help you match an existing style or branch out into new aesthetic territories. This way, you can achieve the beautiful look of wooden window frames without having to concern yourself with the cost of purchase and upkeep.
What You Get With Hybrid Fusion Frame Windows & Doors
- A rock-solid frame constructed from anodized aluminum and galvanized steel
- An outer surface of specially formulated and patented U-PVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride)
- The long-lasting strength and support of galvanized steel and aluminum
- A durable and efficient vinyl frame that won’t expand and contract
- A cost-effective, high-performance window frame material that we guarantee will last 40 years or more
Want More Information on Frame Options? Contact Us Today!
Our patented Hybrid Fusion Frame windows and doors are just one of the many ways in which we have revolutionized replacement windows. For more information on wood vs vinyl vs aluminum windows, book a free, no-hassle in-home or virtual consultation with us today. One of our certified project managers will help to explain the innovative design features that set our windows apart and the customization options available!
Learn More About Window Replacement on Our Blog:
1. What is the Cost of Window Replacement in Toronto?
2. What is the Cost of Window Replacement in Mississauga?
3. Low-E Coatings Explained: A Guide to Windows, Light, and Heat
4. Window U-Factor: How Well Do Your Windows Keep Heat In?
5. Is Vinyl a Good Window Frame Material?
6. A Guide to Cottage Windows in Ontario
7. Why Our Window Walls & Patio Doors Are Perfect For Homes and Cottages
8. Casement Window Parts: A Visual Guide
9. Frequently Asked Questions About Magic Windows and Doors
10. Canada Greener Homes Grant: Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Windows
11. Choosing Energy Efficient Windows for Ontario Homes and Cottages