Plastic window frames come in a number of different materials, including wood, vinyl aluminum, fiberglass, and composite plastic. Vinyl-and plastic frames (translated to Dutch: kunststof kozijnen) are the cheapest - only half the price of comparable versions with wooden frames. They are also particularly energy-efficient, thanks to a honeycomb chamber that increases the insulation capacity by capturing air and can be built to fit into any opening. Not all vinyl window and door frames are the same. There will be differences in the quality of one manufacturer's vinyl compared to another. This is because a vinyl frame is made from a compound—a recipe of sorts—that dictates its performance over time. And unlike wood, they never need to be painted again, although the colors are limited.
Compared to vinyl and fiberglass, wood window and door frames require more maintenance. Regular sealing, staining or painting is needed to prolong the beauty of the wood. Frequent touchups and the occasional refurbishing, sanding and applying new coats are almost always required.
Operating types of window frames
Another important consideration is how the windows operate because some operating types have lower air leakage rates than others, which will improve your home's energy efficiency. Two traditional operating types include:
Awning - Hinged at the top and open outward. Because the sash closes by pressing against the frame, they generally have lower air leakage rates than sliding windows.
Hopper - Hinged at the bottom and open inward. Like both awning and casement, they generally have lower air leakage rates because the sash closes by pressing against the frame.
Factors of considering buying a window frame
Climate Zone - Where you live and the weather in that area will have a huge impact on which material will perform best for your needs. For example, if you have a beach house in a subtropical climate, wooden windows can be very fickle with high humidity and require even more maintenance. Vinyl, on the other hand, is very durable in such environments.
Architectural style - The style of your house also determines which material is best for you, especially if you live in a historic house. For example, in a Victorian-era house, vinyl windows would protrude like a sore thumb with all the wood aside and intricate shapes. In this case, however, wood would be a perfect frame material.
Budget - Your budget will also determine which material is feasible within your financial constraints. Although you may prefer the traditional look of wood, it is a very expensive material because it is derived from a limited natural resource. Vinyl, on the other hand, is much more budget-friendly and even offers the added advantage that it requires little maintenance.
Once you weigh the pros and cons of each material and decide which is best for you. The next step is to find a reputable window manufacturer, and finance the renovation (translated to Dutch: verbouwing financieren).