A Guide for Choosing the Right Materials for Replacement Window Frames and Doors
Is it time to replace your windows and doors?
Replacing outdated windows and doors will automatically improve your home’s energy efficiency while upgrading the look of your home from both the inside and outside.
When choosing new windows and doors, you have to consider materials that will suit your home’s style while also protecting your home from the elements.
You’ll also want to consider maintenance and how much time you’re willing to spend on maintaining your new windows and doors.
So if it’s time to upgrade to new windows and doors to boost your home’s energy performance and curb appeal, consider the various materials for window frames and doors to find the best type for your home.
The following are the leading materials for window frames in terms of popularity, durability, energy-performance, and aesthetics.
PVC is the most popular window frame material for a reason. PVC frames are durable, low-maintenance, and relatively inexpensive. PVC frames are also highly insulating since this material doesn’t allow for heat transfer. And they come in a variety of styles and colours, including woodgrain finishes.
But PVC can be sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and its quality can vary. So if you choose PVC windows, opt for high-quality frames.
Aluminum window frames are known for their strength. Aluminum is stronger than other types of materials, and it is durable and fairly inexpensive. Aluminum frames can also be painted for a customized look.
Due to the strength of aluminum, these frames are preferred in architectural and commercial applications. Aluminum frames can support larger glass areas with reduced frame widths, e.g., for large picture windows and patio doors.
But aluminum is not the best for insulation. Aluminum is a thermal conductor, allowing for fast heat transfer. So to find quality, insulating aluminum window frames, look for those with thermal breaks—structural insulating materials, such as spacers or wood to prevent heat transfer—and insulating foam injected in the chassis of the window.
Wood is the traditional material for window frames. Wood provides a warm, beautiful, and natural look, and is easily customizable since it can be painted and stained. Wood can also be strong and warm, providing sufficient insulation and excellent thermal performance due to its lack of heat transfer.
If you want the best quality of wood, your window frames will be more expensive than many other window frame materials. Wood frames also require more maintenance than other materials.
Wood is not weather-resistant. This means that temperature fluctuations, sunlight, heat, and humidity can all cause wood to warp and crack. And exposure to water and condensation can also lead to wood rotting over time.
So to prevent rotting and sun damage, wood frames require periodic staining or application of water-repellant paint.
You can also find wood frames that are clad with aluminum, vinyl, or PVC—also known as hybrid frames—for a low-maintenance, weather-resistant option.
These frames provide the best of both worlds. They have weather-resistant aluminum or PVC on the exterior frame and wood on the interior frame.
Hybrid frames maintain the charming appearance of wood windows on the inside of your home while being weather-resistant on the outside.
These window frames are low-maintenance, aesthetically pleasing, and provide excellent insulation.
Your home’s exterior doors should protect your home while adding to its curb appeal. So consider the most popular door material options for exterior doors.
Steel is the most common material for residential and commercial entry doors since it is one of the safest and most secure door options.
Steel doors are strong, durable, and energy efficient. They have exterior steel skins on each side of insulating cores that prevent heat transfer. These insulating cores are often made of insulating foam that is surrounded by a wood perimeter for added durability and energy performance.
Steel doors come in a variety of solid panel styles, including stainable finishes with a woodgrain appearance. Steel doors can also have the look of the stile-and-rail design of wood doors and can have a section cut out and replaced with a door lite or decorative glass panel.
The only major drawback to steel doors is the risk of denting. If a steel door becomes dented, you may have difficulty repairing the dent.
Much like steel doors, fiberglass doors are constructed for energy performance with a composite skin covering an insulating core. Fiberglass doors are durable, low-maintenance, and energy-efficient. And they have a higher resistance to dings and dents compared to steel doors.
Fiberglass doors are also available in paintable smooth panel options along with stainable and paintable woodgrain options. So you can have a fiberglass door that looks like wood, but with more durability. Or have it painted in any colour you wish.
Fiberglass doors are slightly more expensive than wood doors and other materials. But the extra cost might be worth it for the energy savings and low-maintenance.
Glass Patio Doors
Glass patio doors provide plenty of natural light and an excellent view of the outdoors. These doors often have an aluminum or vinyl door frame, and energy-efficient glass panels.
Glass with low-E (emissivity) coatings helps prevent heat transfer and damage from sunlight, such as fading interior furnishings. And gas-filled thermal glass panes provide extra insulation and energy performance.
There are also glass patio doors available with impact-resistant glass and low-maintenance, self-cleaning glass coatings that reduce dirt buildup.
Depending on the design and seal, glass patio doors may allow more cold air in from the cracks of the doors. And they do not provide much privacy. So if you’re concerned about your neighbours being able to peer into your home, then these doors might not be ideal.
Along with finding the right materials for your window frames and doors, be sure to choose the right colours and styles to suit both the inside and exterior of your home.
With the right choice of materials, a simple upgrade in windows and doors can automatically boost your home’s curb appeal and energy efficiency. So if you are looking to give your home a makeover and improve your home comfort year-round, consider window and door replacement.