Had enough of those bone-chilling drafts in your home? If so, it might be time to think about some new windows. These days, many people are looking to replace their aluminum windows with a more durable option - something made from vinyl, wood or fiberglass that can withstand the test of time. There are lots of options out there and the one you pick will be based on four very important factors: the climate, the amount of moisture and condensation your home is prone to, the kind of aesthetic you want to achieve, and the maintenance required to keep your home looking great. Keeping these four deciding features in mind, let’s go through the options.
When it comes to temperature, aluminum conducts heat and cold, which is why it’s a popular choice for cookware. Aluminum windows are notorious for transferring the outside temperature in, which makes them very inefficient from an energy point of view. Wood fares better in the extreme seasons, but vinyl and fiberglass windows are made for all weather and are built specifically to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Remember that only 10 percent of the window is frame, so investing in double pane energy efficient glass is your best option, no matter what material you go with.
With our humid summers and wet, cold winters, moisture is a major factor in deciding what kind of window to choose. Because aluminum transfers heat, it can attract condensation and moisture, which can lead to leaks, mold buildup and rot inside your wall. This is a homeowner's worst nightmare and it occurs all too often in older homes. If you have signs of mildew or corrosion from your aluminum frames, it’s time to get them replaced. Any new vinyl, wood, or fiberglass design will be manufactured to keep condensation at bay.
Then there is the “look and feel” factor. Many people started replacing their aluminum windows with vinyl in order to achieve a more contemporary look with the various finishes and designs that vinyl offers. Of course, aluminum products can be painted or powdercoated to match the style of your home, but there will be maintenance to keep them looking great.
That brings us to upkeep. Be aware that any painted product will begin to chip and peel over time. The look of wood is elegant and timeless but it requires regular painting or staining, just like aluminum. Vinyl and fiberglass are very easy to care for and they don’t peel, fade or need to be repainted. These products are not prone to scratches, dings or dents and can give you a longer, hassle-free lifespan if you take care of them properly.
With winter on our doorstep, now is a good time to think about replacing old windows with ones that have maximum energy efficiency and minimal maintenance. If your home still has aluminum and you’re experiencing some of the symptoms I’ve mentioned above, it might be time for an update.
Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.