Contrary to what you may think, many homeowners don't spend the extra money on wood windows just for their looks alone. True, vinyl may be the most common replacement material and what you'll find in modern homes, but does this mean that it's any better? Definitely not!
There are many people who will opt for the more expensive option of getting quality wood frames. Though all materials have positives worth considering, wood has many unique advantages. Each window looks distinct, and overall, wood is a much higher quality material for windows.
The purpose of this article is not to dismiss other materials used for windows, but to present the pros and cons of wood. I hope this helps any homeowners make a more informed decision on potentially updating their windows.
The Advantages of Wooden Windows
There are many reasons why wood is an excellent material to choose when installing or replacing your home's windows. Here are a few reasons why you should consider replacing your windows with wood.
They Look Welcoming and Unique
As previously mentioned, looks are one of the reasons many people choose wooden windows in the first place. For some, it's actually the only reason! After all, nothing can beat the elegance and warm looks of wood. Natural materials have a unique, individualized beauty and that’s why many window frames attempt to mimic the look of wood. But there is no reason to settle for a cheaper imitation if you can afford the real deal.
Furthermore, for older or more traditionally designed homes, there aren't really aesthetically pleasing choices other than real wood windows. The same goes for many cabins, cottages, and winter homes; wood just fits better into the environment's overall vibe. Each window built from wood has unique markings and patterns which can only be found on that specific piece. It's one of a kind!
Wood is also a winner in the looks department because it can accept all kinds of paints and colors the homeowner chooses to apply. No other material is as welcoming and accepting to paint as wood is. Wood doesn't simply embrace paint; it needs it! Why? Continue reading and you will find out!
They Provide Better Insulation
You may remember from physics class that wood is a bad conductor of heat, which makes it a good choice for insulation. Aluminum on the other hand is a great conductor, meaning heat gain or loss happens easily (though this can be mitigated by installing thermal breaks). Wood also provides a much higher level of insulation than aluminum.
In the long run, wood-framed windows could save you money over aluminum windows since this additional insulation “bonus” will keep your home both warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Though this benefit might be difficult to really see on a month-to-month basis, the day-to-day benefits will surely be felt!
Wood-framed windows are more effective at blocking out sounds than other materials as well. This is another factor to consider if you live around noisy areas like train tracks or densely populated neighborhoods.
They Can Last Much Longer
Time and history have proven quality wood windows are long-lasting and have comparatively low lifetime costs if maintained correctly. With proper care, wood can last much longer than a lifetime, which cannot be said for many other frames. And remember, wood windows are not prone to rust, a deciding factor for many locations, especially those with high humidity levels.
The Disadvantages of Wood Frames
Now that we've covered some of the great reasons to opt for installing wood windows, let's look at some of the potential drawbacks of having them.
They Need Paint
Before I mentioned how wood not only embraces paint but actually needs it. Now you'll learn why. Wood was once part of a living organism. If left totally natural, it will eventually rot or start to look its age.
Oftentimes, untreated wooden frames will swell or warp from moisture, making it difficult (or impossible!) to raise or lower the window. It can also fade in color if in direct sun for too many hours a day. This is especially true for houses near the sea, requiring these homes to need much more attention and care.
They Attract Insects
Insects are probably wood’s worst enemy, especially when nasty termites start to take over. They are going to be more prominent in wetter areas, as water is a necessary source for setting up their colony. However, you can deter this by painting your wooden frames with water-repellant paint to protect them from both humidity and insects. For the outside, look for oil or acrylic paint, and for the inside, a latex, glossy paint. That will take out two birds with one stone!
They Have a Higher Initial Cost
Yes, wood windows have a much higher initial cost than the other materials used in window production. It comes down to the time and labor required to not only create the frame itself but to cut down the tree, transport the materials and shape the wood. But as explained before, both quality and maintenance of the window will make them last much longer and can result in lower utility bills.
So, What Type of Window Should I Get?
It all comes down to priorities. If your biggest concern is price and you are on a really tight budget, go for a cheaper material like vinyl windows.
However, if your concern is longevity, beauty, and the resale value, then wooden windows would make for an excellent choice. To help you decide, the table below compares different materials and factors to consider for your new windows! The prices are based on an average-sized double-hung window and are for the frames themselves only.
|Material||Cost||Longevity (in years)||Thermal Conductivity (W/m K)||Insulation Level|
15 to 20 (longer if properly maintained)
High (if maintained regualrly)
20 to 40
20 to 25
Low (unless modified)
Up to 50
- What is thermal break? | Aluro
Thermal Breaks for Aluminum Windows
- Window Frames & Window Styles [Basics for Home Window Remodels]
Pros and Cons of Window Types
- Window Types and Technologies | Department of Energy
Insulation Levels of Window Materials
Energy Efficiency of Windows
- Vinyl vs. Composite Windows: Which Should You Choose?
Longevity of Composite Windows
- Thermal Conductivity
Thermal Conductivity of Window Types
- How Long do Vinyl Windows Last? | Newman Windows Doors
Longevity of Window Types
- 2022 Home Window Replacement Cost Calculator | Modernize
Cost of Window Replacement
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.