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Different Types of Window Frames

Last modified: 2022-06-22 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Besides opening up to the outside world, windows in a home also help maintain that precious warmth we so desperately crave during the winter months. When it is time to replace them, it is also important to consider the appropriate type of framing that will both meet your aesthetic and thermal needs.

So what are the available options and what are their respective pros and cons?

Choosing a Window Frame: Available Options

Aluminum

To this day, aluminum window frames are consistently a popular choice for a variety of reasons. First of all, aluminum window frames are as easy to maintain as they are to install. Although aluminum is a relatively light material, it is still quite durable. Moreover, its resistance to corrosion makes for a material that will withstand the test of time.

As for its impact on the environment, aluminum window frames are usually recyclable. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the energy required to manufacture these is quite high, which may not please consumers concerned about the environmental impact of their choice.

Aluminum frames are less energy efficient when compared to PVC frames, and because of the conductivity, this material will get very cold in the winter, which can result in frost build-up on the inner surface of the window.  In case of damage, it will be necessary to replace the entire window frame.

Just a quick tip, it is usually best to choose a window frame model that has a thermal break to ensure a good level of insulation.

Wood

wood window frame_different types of window frames

Wood has always been known for its aesthetic qualities. Likewise, this material is available in a wide variety of finishes, making it a particularly versatile option.

Obviously, a wood window frame is a perfect choice when it comes to a heritage home. Despite the focus on the aesthetic aspect and the overall charm of this type of frame, wood requires maintenance in order to avoid premature deterioration. Applying a coat of stain or paint is a must to protect the wood from humidity. However, wood will not become cold to the touch like aluminum, thus avoiding the possibility of frost build-up or condensation forming on the glass.

As for pricing, wood costs twice as much as PVC, but durability-wise, it is much more reliable, as long as the necessary precautions are taken to maintain and preserve the material over time. Lastly, note that the wood frames have good insulating properties.

Looking for tips on how to maintain your wood window frames? Check out our article on the subject.

PVC Frames

black window frame_different types of window frames

First and foremost, PVC window frames offer the best quality-price ratio. However, it should be noted that prices may vary depending on the colour of the chosen frame.

Aside from this cost-effective advantage, this type of window frame is extremely resistant to insects, corrosion, and moisture. Given the hollow chambers in their internal structure, PVC frames are not subject to condensation problems. This is an advantage over aluminum frames, which are highly susceptible to condensation.

Interestingly enough, it is possible to opt for faux wood PVC frames and even select two colours for the frame (different interior and exterior colours). Moreover, a PVC window frame requires little maintenance and its performance in terms of insulation is adequate.

As for the cons, with PVC window frames, the first thing to note is that over time, the white material will eventually turn yellow as a result of direct sun exposure. UV rays will cause the material to gradually break down into very fine particles, which are harmful to one's health. The window frame may bend slightly if exposed to large temperature variations.

Next, it should be noted that it is difficult to repair and recycle PVC frames. In the event of damage, the entire frame will need to be replaced. Lastly, know this type of material is not as durable as the other options previously mentioned. Also, it is not recommended for bay window use.

Looking for an overview of the different types of windows currently available on the market? Check out our Guide to Different Types of Windows.

Looking for specialists for your door and window renovation project?

Fill out the form so that we can put you in contact with certified contractors from our network!

Mixed-Frame Windows

Did you know that it is actually possible to choose mixed-frame windows, therefore made from two different materials? In fact, some homeowners turn to wood and aluminum frames or a combination of wood and PVC. Why is that?

Well, aluminum and wood frames are very durable, all the while preserving the beauty and charm of the wood. As far as the PVC and aluminum frame combo, it is valued for its outstanding durability and low maintenance.

Types of Window Frames Pros Cons

1) Aluminum

  • Easy to install
  • Low maintenance
  • Durable
  • Good rust resistance
  • Recyclable
  • Requires lots of resources to manufacture
  • Less energy-efficient than PVC frames
  • Gets cold during winter
  • Must be replaced when damaged

2) Wood 

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Available in various finishes
  • Durable
  • Good insulating properties
  • Requires maintenance to preserve the durability
  • More expensive than PVC frames

3) PVC

  • Offers good quality-price
  • Good resistance to insects, corrosion, and humidity
  • Durable
  • Good insulating properties
  • Not susceptible to condensation issues
  • Low maintenance
  • Yellows as a result of direct sun exposure
  • May warp with temperature variations 
  • Material decay releases fine particles into the air
  • Hard to repair and recycle
  • Less durable than other types of frames

 

Time to replace your windows? Check out our article How to Know When to Replace Your Windows for more information!

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