Window replacements are one of the most popular home improvement solutions around owing to the number of advantages that such a project offers. First off, a new window is durable, able to better withstand the elements than an older, faulty window. And because new windows have better seals, they insulate better, offering energy efficiency that helps reduce the consumption of electricity. There’s also the fact that new and beautiful trumps old and broken in the curb appeal department.
To enjoy these benefits, however, you’re going to have to get the right window replacement. And to do that, you have to take the time to get to know your options, starting with framing materials available to you. There are different options out there, all boasting of a particular set of advantages. Wood and vinyl frames have long been favorites but composites are also steadily making their mark as a go-to framing material.
Replacement windows come with the promise of hitting more than one bird with just one stone. Lower energy bills? Improved aesthetics? Better functionality? It is all possible with the right material choice.
What are Composite Frames?
Composite frames meld different materials to make up one material. For example, Fibrex is the combination of reclaimed wood fibers and thermoplastic polymer. By combining these components, Fibrex frames are able to offer the durability and stability of wood alongside the low maintenance requirements of vinyl. Another example frames that combine wood and aluminum, harnessing the beauty of the former and the durability of the latter.
Benefits of Composite Window Materials
Like other window materials, composites have a lot to offer. Some of the benefits you can get out of composite windows include:
- Extensive lifespan. Because composites take on the attributes of at least two separate materials, it results in a product that is usually stronger than its separate components.This means improved ability against the elements, which means it will last longer, allowing you to make the most of your investment.
- Enhanced energy efficiency. Aside from strength, the combination of materials also boosts energy efficiency in window frames by improving upon how energy efficient the original components were. For example, wood and vinyl have their own insulative properties. Combine the two, and you get composite frames that don’t yield to extreme temperatures, limiting heat transfer even in the hottest of days.
As a composite, Fibrex allows for narrower window frames, leading to more expansive glass areas.
- Improved design. Part of what gets melded together in composites is the appearance of the materials being combined. Think window frames that look like wood but have none of the material’s pitfalls. Wood has always been treasured for its appearance and the development of composites has made it possible for the material’s charm to be adopted by non-wooden materials. Technological advancements have also improved composites in such a way that they can be made incorporated with color or they take paint well. Either way, this allows you to use whatever color of your choice that will complement your home perfectly.
- Environment-friendliness. Depending on the combination of materials in your composite window, you could be doing your bit for the environment. How is this? Imagine a wood window needs 10 portions of wood to be made, for example. If you opt for a composite window like Fibrex, which is 40% wood fibers and 60% thermoplastic polymer, you’re only going to need four portions of wood. That automatically allows you to cut back on wood, which is sourced from various areas, some of which may not be sustainable. As composites are also more durable, they’ll last longer, helping reduce the number of replacements that contribute to trash in landfills.
Composite Frames and Low-E Glass: The Perfect Match
Composite windows come with a number of advantages so they make great investments. However, you can further make the most of what you’re spending by paying attention to the kind of window glass your replacements will have. Double-pane windows are the standard nowadays but you can enjoy better energy efficiency if you go for a double-pane window fitted with low-emissivity, or low-E, glass.
What makes low-E glass ideal for composite frames? Where composite frames offer durability, stability, and maintenance ease, low-E glass brings incredible energy efficiency to a window by blocking out infrared light, which keeps passive heating at bay. This helps prevent unnecessary heat buildup in the home, easing cooling requirements to save on energy costs. Low-E glass also features gas fills that stunt heat transfer between panes, aiding in keeping indoor heat in and outdoor heat out.
Got special requirements? Get specialty composite windows!
Making the Most of Composite Windows
Aside from ensuring your composite replacement is fitted with energy-efficient glass like low-E, there are a couple of other things you can do to make the most of the composite windows. These include:
- Choosing the Right Window Design. Going for composite frames just takes care of what your window replacement will be made of, not what it looks like. You’ve already covered function so it’s now time to focus on form. You can always choose the same window style you have but why not change it? You’re already replacing your windows so why not use this opportunity to consider other options at least, right? You can start with taking into consideration your home’s architectural style. For example, double hungs and casements work well in traditional homes, while picture and sliding windows complete more modern themes.
- Hiring the Right Window Contractor. The success of a window replacement project largely depends on who you’re hiring to get it done. Hire a professional and you can expect professional results. Don’t and you can expect to steadily lose your peace of mind. There will be no shortage of window contractors out there so finding one won’t be a problem–it’s in choosing just one to work with that you might need to set aside time for. At the very least, make sure that your window contractor is licensed, insured, experienced, and certified. Meeting this conditions will not only ensure you’re dealing with a legitimate business but that you’re entrusting your window replacement to someone who truly knows what they are doing.
Composite frames are nothing new but they continue to pleasantly surprise those who give them a chance. If you want to learn more about what composite windows can do for you, don’t hesitate to give your local window expert a call.
BJ Stucki is the sales and marketing director for Renewal by Andersen of Portland. When he’s not in the field, he’s busy sharing his knowledge and experience through the company blog. Check it out to receive regular updates from BJ!