There are tons of options available if you're looking to fit windows in a new house. Your choice will be largely dictated by your budget, but you must consider factors like energy efficiency, ease of cleaning/maintenance, security and framing materials. This article offers insights to help you evaluate two of these options.
Window framing materials
The choice of material affects insulation properties, durability and appearance of your window. There are four materials frequently used:
Wood – this is very popular and readily available, and it is well-loved for its insulation properties. It can also be stained or painted in your desired colours. However, it is prone to swelling, warping and shrinkage and must be periodically repainted and treated for rot.
Clad wood – a hybrid material made of wood on the inside but covered with aluminium or vinyl to reduce maintenance requirements. Aluminium cladding is more prone to scratching than vinyl cladding, but the former offers more colour choices than the latter.
Vinyl – has hollow thermal breaks between frame layers to prevent heat gain or loss and hence improve insulation. Must be very good quality or they will be prone to distortion during extreme weather. You cannot paint them in a different colour from the one they came with
Steel – very durable and secure but also very expensive, and so not typically used in residential homes
Aluminium – more durable, easier to handle and lighter than wood. Thermal breaks are installed to improve insulation because aluminium is a good conductor of both heat and cold. Usually treated to prevent corrosion, but not very ideal in coastal areas with humid, salty air.
Glazing and energy efficiency
This is the second most important factor to think about, because it directly affects your energy expenditure. Energy efficiency of glass windows involves an interplay of glazing and glass layering. Plain glass offers no protection from harmful UV rays which fade your furniture, paint and carpeting, and it has little to no insulation capabilities.
Ideally, the least you should have is insulated glass, which is made of two layers of annealed glass filled with an inert gas (argon or krypton) in the thermal spacing. The gas is denser than air and has poor conductivity, and so it absorbs harmful UV rays as well as prevent heat transfer between the layers.
In addition, the glass can be given a tinted or clear low-E glaze (single, double or triple) which improves insulation. Triple-glazing offers the highest level of insulation, but it is also the most expensive. Double-glazing is more affordable and very common among homeowners.