What Is a Window Frame?

What Is a Window Frame?

Windows are essential components in your home, so it’s important to know what a window frame is and why window frame material matters. Learn more about the main benefits of a window frame and the different frame materials available to make a more informed decision about replacement windows. During your research, the importance of window frames will become readily apparent.

Window frames surround and support the entire window system with an operational or stationary framework that includes the head, sill and jamb. Without a window frame, the panes of glass have nothing to hold them in place. Frames also keep windows firmly in place inside the wall of a building.

According to the University of Calgary’s Energy Education team, non-operable windows have relatively simple frames, but operable, multi-pane windows have complex frames with numerous moving parts. From the simplest to the most complex, window frames are made of an array of materials. Understand your options with more information about the window frame’s composition.

Window Frame Materials

Frame materials should match your personal style, as well as your interior comfort needs. Keep this in mind when comparing various frame materials. The primary materials available include wood, aluminum, fiberglass and vinyl, and each have unique pros and cons.

  • Wood offers a classically beautiful, warm appearance that’s easy to match to nearly any architectural style. Used extensively in window frame construction, wood has favorable insulating properties and is easily refreshed with a new coat of paint or stain. However, compared to other materials, wood frames require more maintenance and are prone to cracking, which can affect the overall energy efficiency of your windows.
  • Aluminum is beneficial for multi-pane systems because it gives frames a slim profile and durability that can be configured in various ways. One of the most affordable options, aluminum frames are nearly maintenance-free and won’t warp or crack like wood. However, they conduct heat rapidly, making them a poor insulator and the least energy-efficient compared to other options. They’re also vulnerable to corrosion.
  • Fiberglass is extremely strong, requires little maintenance, and is well-suited to areas known for drastically changing temperatures. Able to replicate the look and feel of wood without the drawbacks of warping, rotting and swelling, insulation-filled fiberglass frames offer better thermal efficiency compared to uninsulated vinyl and wood. However, they’re significantly more expensive than other frame materials and offer fewer features and sizes.
  • Vinyl has great moisture resistance, isn’t susceptible to corrosion and doesn’t require painting or staining, making it nearly maintenance-free. Made of UV-resistant PVC, vinyl frames are durable, very energy efficient and the most affordable material option. However, vinyl reacts to temperature shifts, leading to seal deterioration from the material contracting and expanding that often requires re-caulking.

Importance of Window Frames

The importance of a window frame becomes obvious when your utility bills skyrocket due to old, drafty frames that leak around the edges. Sturdy, well-insulated window frames that fit snugly against the walls surrounding them positively impact your home’s overall energy efficiency. According to the DIY Network, this energy efficiency saves you money and makes your home more comfortable.

When you’re investing in new windows, another important aspect of the window frames is making sure you get the look you want. While each frame material offers a unique appearance, the shape of the frame is an often-overlooked aesthetic consideration. Plain, flat exterior frames lack depth, while frames with soft, rounded edges or an elegant, milled look enhance overall appearance and curb appeal.

Choose High Quality Window Frames

Once you understand what a window frame is and have researched the material choices, you can make a more informed decision about replacement windows. Remember to consider aesthetics, cost, durability, maintenance and energy efficiency to ensure your investment pays off in the long run.

Keep your home safe and looking good while improving your energy savings with new replacement windows from Thompson Creek Window Company. We use only the finest materials for our replacement windows and design, build and install them ourselves to cut out the middleman markup. Contact us to learn more the importance of window frames and how our high-quality frames help improve energy efficiency.