6 Window Frame Materials to Consider for your Home

Window frames can be made from a variety of materials — many of which are customizable depending on your wants and needs. Are you on a budget and worried about the upfront cost or concerned about energy efficiency? Do you need a maintenance-free frame or does it need to match your home style? Do you live in an area that is prone to certain weather conditions that may be harmful for certain window materials? Do you have just one window to replace or do you want to change the look of your entire home? Only you can make these decision but we hope this list of 6 different window materials will make it easier for you.

Window Frame Material Options

Types of Window Frame Materials

1. Vinyl

Vinyl AKA polyvinyl chloride (PVC) AKA plastic is one of the most popular window options and most affordable with decent durability.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Great insulation value and very energy efficient — even more so if the hollow frames are filled with insulating foam
  • Good moisture resistance, so it won’t rot
  • Won’t corrode and is UV-resistant with the exterior coating finish
  • Stable and durable
  • Welded at the seams to prevent the elements from coming in
  • If it contains titanium dioxide will be more heat resistant (and will cost more)
  • Color goes all the way through so no painting is necessary. Some manufacturers are offering a surface treatment that can be textured and painted
  • Very low maintenance
  • Tilt-in option makes them easy to clean from inside the home

Cons:

  • Limited color selection
  • Typically it cannot be painted to match other colors
  • Depending on the product and manufacturer you choose it may be low quality
  • Not very customizable
  • Less durable than other options. May warp, have seals break, etc.
  • Not as strong as other options

2. Fiberglass

Technically a composite because it is made with glass fibers and a polymer/plastic mix, fiberglass is an alternative but similar to vinyl.

Pros:

  • Very strong, durable and stable
  • Handles stress of larger windows well and allows your space to show off a lot of light
  • Handles weather and temperature changes well so it won’t swell, leak, warp, rot, or fall apart
  • Handles high wind well
  • Resistant to water—even salt water, moisture and corrosion
  • Good insulators and very energy efficient. Can come foam filled (highest insulation value) or hollow core
  • Customizable shapes, sizes and colors
  • Can be painted over (but doesn’t require painting)
  • Low maintenance and long lasting

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Can leave them in the standard color but not appealing and easily scratches. This is corrected by painting them.

Pros & Cons of Wood Window Frames

3. Wood

Wood is a classic and naturally beautiful option.

Pros:

  • A natural resource, renewable and environmentally sustainable
  • Visually appealing and offers great architectural detail
  • Strong, durable and gets harder over time
  • Provides good insulation against the cold and the heat meaning very energy efficient
  • Good sound barrier
  • Great insulation value and thermal performance
  • Good for customizing and can be made into different shapes and sizes
  • Can be painted or left natural to match your home well

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Needs regular maintenance such as sanding, painting, caulking and cleaning
  • May rot or mold from weather conditions if not properly taken care of
  • Can warp and buckle due to certain weather conditions

4. Wood Composite

Wood Composites are made of two or more materials, such as wood particles and resins to resemble wood.

Pros:

  • Low Maintenance
  • Won’t rot, warp or corrode
  • Sturdy, stable and durable
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Energy Efficient and good insulation value
  • Environmentally friendly (recycling wood scraps and sawdust that would otherwise be trashed)
  • Resembles wood and can be textured, stained or painted

Con:

  • Can get expensive depending on the composite and manufacturer
  • Quality & durability varies by manufacturer
  • Because of the many options, it takes time to find the right look & quality from a manufacturer with a strong reputation

5. Wood Clad/Hybrid

These solid wood windows are covered with another material like fiberglass, vinyl or aluminum on the exterior.

Pros:

  • The look of wood windows but much better performance and less maintenance
  • Strong and durable
  • Energy efficient — good insulation value and thermal qualities meaning you will save on energy costs
  • Exterior protected and weather resistant
  • Many color options, can be painted and have different colors inside and out. Very customizable

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Much less maintenance than a wooden window (but not fully maintenance-free). Just make sure the two materials are not separating on the outside and keep up with the painting inside. Keep clean as well.

Pros & Cons of Window Frame Materials

6. Aluminum

Aluminum is a lightweight material that is strengthened by adding alloys (metal properties with two or more elements).

Pros:

  • Can be affordable
  • Sleek and modern style
  • Low maintenance
  • Won’t warp or swell
  • Strong and lightweight — can hold large sections of glass with a slim profile which allows plenty of sun light into your home
  • Available in a large selection of colors and easily shaped for good customization
  • Available in anodized or baked-on finishes (painting is not needed)

Cons:

  • Not good energy performance or insulating value, although some manufacturers offer frames with built-in thermal breaks between surfaces to help improve the energy efficiency
  • May be prone to condensation
  • Prone to corrosion, especially in salt-water locations

While you may have thought that window frames were all the same it's easy to see that not all frames were created equally and each has a distinct feature. It's important to evaluate what elements are most necessary for your situation and choose a window frame accordingly. Whether your goal is to fix a leaky window or to aesthetically change the look of your home there is an option for everything. Happy window shopping!

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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Ready To Become A Smarter Homebuyer?

By signing up, you agree to Nestiny terms of use .
Whether you need a step-by-step guide, video resource or one of our many helpful tools, Nestiny has your back 24/7 for all things home buying and selling. You choose the pace, material, and when and where to learn. Unlock your free access to Nestiny today!
Are you a real estate professional? Go here .
By clicking this button, you'll enjoy free unlimited access to Nestiny and agree to our terms of use . And don't worry! Nestiny will not share your information with any parties without your consent.