Choosing the right window material

One of the most important decisions a home owner can make, is choosing the correct windows. With the dozens of choices available, the choice can be difficult to make. Lets take a look at a few of the features to look for when making the decision.

Windows are important design feature in any home. The placement and size of windows can dramatically effect the feel of any room. As important as windows are to the home, they come at a major price to energy efficiency. Most windows have an insulation value (R-value) 80% lower then walls. When utilizing highly energy efficient walls (i.e.- Insulated Concrete Forms), it is important to choose a window that properly compliments the wall’s insulation value.

The best way to achieve increased insulation value in windows is to add an extra layer of glass or “triple glaze”. Three layers of glass adds significantly to the insulation value, and also deadens exterior noises. The surface temperature on the interior glass surface will be within a degree or two of the wall, creating a much more comfortable space in the winter months, reducing cold drafts.

Windows are built in a wide variety of materials. Most have a wood core and are “clad” or wrapped in vinyl or aluminum. Wood is prone to warping, and if moisture ever penetrates, it will grow mold and rot. One hundred percent aluminum windows are another option. Aluminum will never rot, won’t warp, is much stronger the wood, and resistant to mold growth. Infiltrating water will not damage the unit. The added strength can support much larger window spans for cleaner lines and a more open feel.

Solid fiberglass is another viable option. Fiberglass is also stronger than wood, and resistant to weather conditions, but caries a higher price tag.

Steel windows create some of the most dramatic site lines available in a window. Their superior strength allows for extremely minimal frames, increasing your view of the outdoors and making quite an architectural statement. On the downside, they are among the most expensive windows available and provide poor insulation.

-Chad Kotlarz

Next weeks topic: Tilt-Turn, Lift-Slide windows and doors!



Solid Aluminum windows allow for extremely large expanses of glass due to their added strength. This opening is 23 feet wide, and 9 feet high, supporting triple glaze glass.



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