One of the most important choices that will face anyone installing or replacing windows will be the materials used in the frames of them. Although it may seem like a fairly small decision, the frames one chooses can have a considerable bearing on how you can heat your room, the style of your house and perhaps even on how you spend your weekends – whether it’s replacing and repainting the frames, or something else. All companies who will install windows will offer customers a choice of frames, the most common and popular of which are wood – in hardwood or softwood form – aluminium or un-plasticized Polyvinyl Chloride (uPVC). These all have their advantages and relative shortcomings and different homeowners make their decisions based on features and factors that are particular to their lifestyle, tastes and preferences. Wood frames are hugely popular and come in soft and hardwood forms which differ significantly. Hardwood is more common for various reasons, and below is an outline of the different features of the materials and an explanation of how timber matches up to alternative materials.
The one area in which wood lies comfortably at the top of the heap is the aesthetic appeal it offers to the windows and look of a house. Although many people may like the look of aluminium, timber is generally considered to be the most attractive and gives a traditional look and feel. In fact, most local planning authorities insist that listed buildings and homes within conservation areas choose wooden frames for replacement windows to ensure the windows keep within the character of the area.
Wood is also a very good insulator of heat meaning that it makes central heating fairly efficient and doesn’t let too much energy escape into the cold outdoors. In this respect is surpasses aluminium which is relatively poor at insulating. Compared to uPVC, however, uPVC comes out on top as it is an exceptional heat insulator. Incidentally, for the environmentally-conscious, it is also worth noting that timber comes from a sustainable source and its disposal costs and energy required for transformation are relatively low.
When it comes to the durability and security of the different frames, wood is almost on an equal footing with the alternatives. Aluminium is considered by many to be virtually thief-proof and uPVC is similarly difficult to damage. Hardwood timber is far more durable than its softwood version and is a tough frame material that is strong and resilient.
For many people, the time-saving features of the low maintenance materials uPVC and aluminium make timber their last choice. Timber is tough, but may require re-painting, re-filling and patching occasionally. It is also able to rot unlike uPVC and aluminium and out of the three is the most high-maintenance. Having said that, with new developments in both the way the wood is installed and manufactured, and the range of products on offer, timber is by no means overly time-consuming.
Hardwood timber is quite expensive compared to aluminium and uPVC double glazing. The rates offered by different window companies varies and rates may well fluctuate, but the tendency is for hardwoods to be a little more pricey than the alternatives.