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Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Which window frame material should you buy?

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Windows can be the source of many sleepless nights for homeowners and buyers, and the choice can have a major impact on your next home inspection. Is one better than the others? Does it matter where you live? Does the cost of one offset the look of another? The answer to all of those questions is a frustrating "maybe," but with enough information everyone should be able to settle on a window and a look that they love.

Vinyl
Traditionally viewed as the cheapest material - both financially and aesthetically - vinyl windows can cost less than half that of the next cheapest type of window. Doubling down on their cost-effectiveness, This Old House explains that the construction of vinyl windows traps heat in insulating pockets within the frame, which can save on heating bills in the winter and air conditioning bills in the summer.

The low cost of vinyl windows can lead to dealers cutting corners even further, though. Not many colors may be available and if the windows are jointed by anything other than heat-welding, the energy efficiency may be offset by loose seams.

Wood
The front-runner for years in terms of style and efficiency - alright, the only runner for years - wood-framed windows are still favored by homeowners that care about look over cost. Prices have come down in recent years as vinyl has made a push for wood's market share, but Hanley Wood explains that more often than not, homeowners go into the window market expecting to pay for the look and feel of wood windows.

When built with craftsmanship in mind, wood windows will last a lifetime, but shoddy work combined with exposure to the elements can lead to erosion in the material. Take a second look at wood for your home if you live in a humid climate that sees a lot of rain.

Aluminum
If you do live in a rainy, humid climate, chances are you've looked at aluminum windows before. Free from the concerns of erosion that plagues wood and sturdier than their vinyl counterparts, aluminum-framed windows can take a beating - consider buying them if hurricanes are more of a threat to your property's value than something to watch on television, says HGTV.

Definitely not as decorative as wood or even vinyl, aluminum may not give your home the look you want. It is used as a reinforcing material to shield a wooden core from destructive weather, though, if you can stand covering up your beautiful wood windows.

Before jumping feet first into the window market, consider a home buyer consultation to determine which window - and which home - is right for you.