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Thermal Performance of Common Window Materials

When shopping for replacement windows, one wants to ensure they have a firm understanding of what they are purchasing. It is simple to say that, "It's just a window and they're all the same." But they are not. One of the primary components that will serve to help determine the thermal qualities of a window is what materials it is crafted from. Other aspects of the workmanship including the glass used, number of panes, and any other normal building process will continue to add or detract from the efficiency of the window. The most common materials and those coming into focus now will be covered below to help you determine the thermal qualities of each and what you require.

Wood Frame Windows

Wood has been a staple construction material since the time man began to build things. It is only natural that we would use wood frames as one of the first materials for mounting window panes. The thermal qualities of wood frame have always been sound and offered quality protection to the interior. It is still one of the best insulating materials for thermal purposes available for window frames. It does feature some drawbacks that require balancing. Wood windows often require a bit more maintenance in general and can be subject to decay with moisture. This makes proper installation all the more imperative for a wood frame window. One does not want to have moisture seeping around the frame and allowing to wreak havoc on their window frame. Those living in excessively moist or rainy climates may not find wood frame windows to be the best choice for their replacement window needs.

Aluminum Frame Windows

When talking thermal qualities of windows, one wants to address aluminum frames. This style of window is extremely durable to a number of environmental circumstances and can provide great protection in general. For replacement windows, aluminum may not be the best choice however. Aluminum frames are the most inefficient of the different frame materials available when it comes to thermal qualities. They allow a lot more heat energy to transfer between the interior and exterior than one would normally desire out of their windows. In temperatures of extreme climates, this can be a strong detriment for their use. Some measures can be taken to improve the efficiency of aluminum windows on installation. These include additional caulking treatments to help seal the window from the elements.

Vinyl Frame Windows

Vinyl quickly became a popular material for home owners when looking to purchase replacement windows. It is the most cost effective material out of the ones available and will likely be found on more inexpensive replacement windows. Vinyl's qualities are a diverse offering. It is fairly tough and durable, offers good thermal and insulating qualities, and is generally light weight. Vinyl replacement windows do have a couple of short-comings that might make it a poor choice to home owners in certain climates. Though it is treated to withstand damaging sun rays; continual exposure will break down the treatment and the vinyl after awhile. This will cause the vinyl to fade or become damaged the longer it is exposed. Extreme, constant colds can cause the vinyl to become brittle and crack. Changing of the seasons is easily handled by vinyl replacement windows; it is only when one gets into extremes that it starts to experience problems.

Wood-Clad, Vinyl-Clad Windows

Generally, wood-clad or vinyl-clad windows feature an interior of wood or vinyl while the exterior is made with aluminum. This allows one to have the great durability effects of aluminum on the exterior with the attractiveness of vinyl or wood on the interior. The insulating qualities are typically that of the interior material more than the exterior; though they both do affect it. What you will find is the thermal qualities of a clad window will be much better than those of a pure aluminum frame. These windows can stand up to a variety of climates and tough weathering while offering a pleasing internal style for the home dwellers.

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