Choosing Replacement Window Frames: 5 Popular Materials Explained

If it's time for new windows for your home, you have two options: replace the existing windows with exactly the same kind, or choose replacement windows that truly reflect your style and your needs. The first step in this process is usually choosing a type of window frame. Read on to find out what makes one type of material different from another, and weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

Aluminum Frames

A popular choice because of their low cost and durability, aluminum frames can be expected to last a long time and withstand the elements. However, they may not be the best choice for cold climates because of their poor insulation. Better quality models may have a "thermal break" to help improve insulation.


  • Affordable
  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Very low maintenance


  • Less energy efficient for cold climates
  • Prone to condensation

Wood Frames

Wood frames remain a classic option because of their attractive look and great natural insulation. The maintenance required for wood window frames may cause some homeowners to shy away, though.


  • Excellent insulation - great for cold climates
  • Very sturdy
  • Can be painted or finished a number of ways
  • Favored for their traditional look


  • Require regular maintenance to avoid warping or other damage
  • May not last as long as some other materials
  • Can be expensive

Wood Clad Frames

Some homeowners see wood clad frames as a way to have their cake and eat it, too. Wood clad frames usually combine either wood and aluminum or wood and vinyl to create the great look of wood with the low maintenance appeal of the other material.


  • Can be customized in a number of ways
  • Low maintenance
  • Attractive, natural look of wood frames
  • Improved energy efficiency


  • Can be expensive
  • Although uncommon, leaks can occur and cause rotting

Vinyl Frames

Made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl window frames offer a number of advantages for homeowners, including reasonable pricing and high durability. One major drawback of vinyl frames, however, is their susceptibility to damage in extreme weather.


  • Moderate to high energy efficiency
  • Very low maintenance
  • Moisture resistant
  • Durable and long lasting


  • May expand and warp in high temperatures
  • Can crack in extreme cold
  • Prolonged sun exposure can cause color fading

Fiberglass Frames

Fiberglass stands out as a quality material with very few drawbacks, making it an increasingly popular choice among homeowners and home experts.


  • Strong
  • Long lasting
  • Very energy efficient


  • May be priced higher than some other materials

Every type of window frame material has its advantages and disadvantages. Take the time to find out which is the best choice for your home.


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