Windows come in a lot of different styles, shapes and sizes, and on top of these, you also have a range of window materials to choose from.
But how do you pick? It’s not an easy choice. Each material has its own strengths and weaknesses. For the most accurate information on what would work best with your home’s aesthetics and energy efficiency, you should talk with the experts here at Clara. But to help you narrow down your options, we’ve put together a little window material guide of things to think about!
A window’s life cycle matters
Life cycle means a big-picture view of the window – from its manufacturing process to service life, and how it is disposed of.
For vinyl windows, there can be some issues with disposing. This is because vinyl can be difficult to recycle, and will otherwise sit in a landfill for years before it degrades. While all plastic will off-gas, vinyl windows are not likely to be noticeable unless you have a serious sensitivity.
Fiberglass, being made from 60 percent glass, is an easily found resource (sand) with a relatively light environmental impact when it comes to sourcing. Making fiberglass also will use less energy than vinyl, and, when installed, does not off-gas like vinyl does. Many jurisdictions recycle fiberglass, but be sure to check.
Wood is the winner when it comes to an environmentally sound choice for life cycle considerations. A common and renewable resource that can come from a certified sustainable source, wood window frames are easily recycle or reused.
Windows have their own thermal characteristics, namely how easily – or not – they let head flow through their materials. The less heat loss, the better. On this front, wood and vinyl windows are pretty much equal when it comes to the U-value (which measures heat loss).
Fiberglass windows, depending on the build quality, can be highly efficient as well, due to the use of insulation in their frame. In addition, they have a much longer lifecycle simply because fiberglass is so durable.
Unlike wood, fiberglass will not warp over time and cause unexpected spikes in energy bills due to a loss of effectiveness. Fiberglass windows are quickly becoming popular these days due to energy efficiency alone. If you are looking to slash your energy bill and make your home much more greener, fiberglass should be a leading consideration.
Installing weatherstripping and low-e coatings are additional ways of making your windows more energy efficient as well. Lastly, always ensure that your windows are certified by Energy Star. This will result in a 12 percent reduction on your energy bill. Click here for more.
Look and aesthetics
The aesthetic quality of the window frame is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. But we can say that many houses will have a style more suitable for wood or wood-clad windows, which come in various colours. Fiberglass, meanwhile, is less flexible on this front, but can be painted. Vinyl windows, meanwhile, offer fewer options, as they come in only a handful of colours and cannot be painted.