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The ultimate guide to window frame materials



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  1. Wood Windows
  2. Fiberglass Windows
  3. Vinyl Windows
  4. Aluminum Windows
  5. Window Replacement


Materials Matter! Let’s go over all the common window frame materials, so you can choose the replacement window that works best for you.

Guide to Window Frame Materials

Wood Windows

Andersen A Series Wood Clad WindowsWood is a very popular window frame material. It offers desirable strength, customization and beauty. Wood windows are extremely easy to paint and stain, and the options are endless. Wood interior windows can be customized room-to-room to exactly fit the style and design of each area. With other material types windows, you are often limited to the manufacturer’s interior color choices. Most wood windows have a more durable exterior cladding to protect it from the elements, because wood material is more susceptible to environmental damage. Sometimes the wood is used purely for looks on the interior and sometimes it’s the full window frame offering structural support. Wood requires more care and maintenance such as re-painting or re-staining. Modern wood windows will often have wood interiors with fiberglass or vinyl exteriors. If you’re going with wood then it’s highly recommended to choose clad windows, which have an exterior layer of a more weather resistant material.

Key Points About Wood Material

  • Strong
  • Natural
  • Beautiful
  • Stainable & Paintable
  • More susceptible to the elements
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Great for window interiors
  • Extremely customizable

Opal Recommended Wood Window Products:Andersen A Series Windows (clad), Andersen 400 Series Windows (clad), and Beechworth Windows (fiberglass frame w/ wood interior).

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Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass is a plastic matrix that’s reinforced with glass fibers. It’s a very strong, lightweight, and durable material.  Fiberglass windows are very popular and reliable, because they’re virtually maintenance free and very weather resistant. They’re paintable, so they offer a customizable benefit like wood windows do. Fiberglass material doesn’t warp, rot, or peel. Fiberglass does very well with temperature changes. It expands and contracts naturally with the glass, which means less seal failures. It’s used for cladding and as a solo window frame material.

Key Points About Fiberglass Material

  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Energy Efficient
  • Low-Maintenance
  • Paintable
  • Expands & Contracts with glass
  • Less seal failures

Opal Recommended Fiberglass Window Products: Beechworth Windows (fiberglass frame w/ wood interior), Andersen A Series Windows (clad)

Vinyl Windows

Alside Vinyl WindowsVinyl is an affordable, weather resistant window material. Vinyl offers many of the same benefits as fiberglass, but with less strength and customization. Vinyl windows normally come pre-colored and are not often altered outside the factory. Vinyl is a heat sensitive material which can lead to melting or warping under high heat conditions. Vinyl is a good choice for energy efficiency due to it’s ability to seal in air pockets for insulation.

Key Points About Vinyl Material

  • Energy Efficient
  • Low-Maintenance
  • Low-Cost
  • Sensitive to heat

Opal Recommended Vinyl Window Products: Alside Windows (all vinyl), Andersen 400 Series Windows (clad)

High-quality, energy-efficient windows in your home

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Aluminum Windows

Aluminum is not often used as a stand alone frame material anymore, because it’s not very energy efficient, especially in cold climates. Aluminum can develop condensation when the weather gets cold and can result in window frosting and damage to the home. Aluminum is a good exterior window cladding material, especially for architectural styling and strength. Aluminum window material is low-maintenance, stylish, and less expensive than many other framing options. It’s a popular window material for large openings and commercial use due to it’s attractive price point, industrial styling, and strength. It’s often used in combination with a more insulating interior window material. Andersen combines interior wood and exterior aluminum to make the E Series models.

Key Points About Aluminum Material

  • Low-Cost
  • Very Strong
  • Stylish
  • Less energy efficient
  • Condensation can develop in cold weather

Opal Recommended Aluminum Window Products: Composites are a growing trend in the window industry. Many window manufacturers are developing their own proprietary blends and working to achieve the benefits of different materials. One well known composite is Andersen’s Fibrex material, which is a blend of thermoplastic and reclaimed wood fiber. Window manufacturers are pushing the material boundaries to create energy efficient, strong, low-maintenance, low-cost and attractive windows. Many composites are created with earth friendliness in mind, utilizing recycled and recyclable materials. Composites are an excellent choice for window framing, but do your research because each is very unique. Stick with trusted brands and look at the technical specifications to be sure it meets your needs.

Key Points About Composite Materials

  • Variety of options
  • Engineered for specific purposes
  • Often very low-maintenance & strong
  • Eco-friendly options available
  • Modern innovations
  • Often a good value

Opal Recommended Composite Window Products: Andersen 100 Series Fibrex Windows (all composite)

Window Replacement

When choosing any window, it’s important to look at brand reputation, warranties, and efficiency ratings to be sure you’re getting a high quality and long lasting product.

Once you’ve selected your preferred materials, it’s time to find a quality window contractor to do the job. Opal Enterprises is an awarded window replacement contractor serving the west & southwest suburban Chicago area. Our passionate team of professional window installers makes it easy when you need a Naperville home window replacementOpal is an official Andersen Windows Dealer and a Beechworth Elite Window Contractor. The Opal team has received numerous honors over the years: 7yrs listed in Best Pick Reports, Best of Naperville 2016, A+ Rated BBB, Guild Quality Service Excellence Award, and many more. Partnering with Opal for your window replacement project means a top quality product selection, and a skilled installation experience!