Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Windows & Window Frames (Part 3)

Energy efficiency is your goal in building a green home. The window’s frame plays an important part in a window’s energy efficiency, sealing out moisture and preventing drafts. Types of frames include:

All-vinyl frames: The least expensive option, all-vinyl frames are easy to maintain and don’t require painting. They tend to expand and contract in the extremes of heat and cold but do perform well in most conditions.

Solid wood frames: Solid wood frames may be painted but will require maintenance for the life of the window. Prices vary widely with quality.

Clad wood frames: By far the most popular choice, these are wood frames covered with either vinyl or aluminum. Cost is higher than wood frames, but they are easier to maintain. Aluminum is stronger (and slightly more expensive) than vinyl, and comes in a wide array of colors.

Composite frames: There are advantages to choosing a fiberglass, recycled vinyl, or other composite window frame. Stronger and more durable than wood, they look; feel, and act just like wood and can even be painted just like its wooden counterpart. In some cases they’re more expensive. Analyze the cost versus the expected maintenance and see if this is the right choice for your green home.

Divided Lights:
Some windows have real divided lites (true divided lights), where each pane is separate and surrounded by structural dividing muntins made of wood. Others have grills that snap into a single piece of glass that imitates the look of divided lites. True divided lights are expensive and less energy efficient, so to offer a cost savings and improve the energy efficiency of windows, most manufacturers offer windows with non-divided-light panes, usually with insulated glass. Then, to create the appearance of a divided light, they offer various versions of applied muntins and spacers within the insulated glass.

Muntins are available in the following styles: aluminum or plastic strips which are glued to the glass; wood muntins that can be removed for finishing or window washing; and heavy wood muntins affixed to both sides of the glass.

Simulated Divided Lights (SDL’s) are another option, which have heavy wood muntins affixed to both sides of the glass with spacer bars set between the panes of glass perfectly aligned with the muntins. SDL’s provide the genuine look of true divided light while improving energy efficiency and lowering cost.

Jackie Lampiasi, Marketing Director

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