Login ↓


Frame Materials

Overview | Window Styles | Energy Conservation | Frame Materials | Glass Options
10 Questions to Ask | Replacing Windows | Why Choose AMSCO | Ask a Question

With today’s technology, window frame material is constantly evolving. Window frames now come in a variety of materials. Which material suits you best depends on your climate, budget and the look you want to achieve. Here are some of the most common window frame materials on the market today.

Aluminum window frames are easy to maintain and are sometimes less expensive than all other window frame materials. But when it comes to insulation, aluminum windows lose heat – which greatly increases the overall U-factor of a window unit and your energy bill. In cold climates, an aluminum frame can be cold enough to condense moisture or frost the interior surfaces of window frames.

Vinyl AMSCO vinyl window cross section
Windows manufactured from vinyl, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) have become a popular choice for building windows because they are energy efficient, durable, require little maintenance and come in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Vinyl windows are one of the least expensive choices, yet come in a wide range of prices.

Composite AMSCO composite window cross section
Constructed from a unique alloy of resins, composite windows are gaining popularity due to their superior aesthetics, dimensional stability and resistance to rotting and decay, as well as providing high thermal performance at costs less than wood. The technology involved in composite materials allows for a greater range of exterior colors that will not fade, and often are available with wood veneer interiors; thus providing the beauty of wood without the upkeep.

Fiberglass is another composite frame material that is fairly new to windows. The manufacturing process involves pulling raw materials through a die using a continuous pulling device. Like other composite materials, fiberglass won’t rot or decay and usually requires only minimal maintenance. However, when fiberglass windows are assembled the fasteners create a fragile joint that must be handled carefully prior to installation. Due to the high cost of manufacturing, fiberglass may only be available in a select set of colors but may also be painted. However, painting fiberglass windows contradicts the low maintenance benefit many find appealing.

Generally the highest priced option in windows, wood window frames serve as better insulators than aluminum. However, weather can be very damaging to wood requiring them to be painted periodically. Unlike vinyl and composite windows, if not properly protected, they can rot or warp. Some manufacturers address this problem by cladding the exterior of the window with either vinyl or aluminum, which results in an even higher ticket price.

A Word About Energy Efficiency and Frames
When selecting a window material the "K-value" (the amount of heat loss of a particular window material) is an important factor to consider. The lower the K-value for a window material, the better it insulates.

The diagram below illustrates the comparison of K-values for the following window materials:

AMSCO builds its windows and doors using vinyl or composite. See the variety of quality vinyl windows that AMSCO offers, or learn more about AMSCO’s Renaissance® Series composite windows.