A Guide to Window Hardware

Types of Window Frame Hardware and What to Consider When Buying Windows

By Mark J. Donovan

When looking for new windows one of the most important factors to consider is the window U-value. The window U-value, or U-factor, is a measure of a window’s heat loss. The lower a window’s U-value the greater it’s resistance to heat loss, and the greater a window’s resistance to heat loss the lower your monthly home energy bills. Besides the use of multi-pane, Argon gas filled, Low-E window glazing, another important factor in achieving a low window U-factor is the window hardware, or window frame itself.

Windows are constructed out of many types of window hardware. Some are better than others, and some are better for different climates and regions of the country.

So when buying new windows, besides considering your home’s style and construction budget, choose windows with the window hardware that is the most appropriate for your local climate and that have low U-values.

Types of Window Hardware

Wood Hardware

Wood hardware has been the most commonly used material for window construction over the eons. Wood is easy to work with and can be shaped and cut into all types of intricate carvings and designs. It’s also a fairly good insulator and is aesthetically pleasing both on the inside and outside of the home. This said, wood hardware needs constant maintenance. For example, wood framed windows need to be painted every few years. If not maintained, the window frames will check and rot out in short order.

Vinyl Hardware

Vinyl hardware windows have become very popular with today’s home builders and homeowners. Vinyl is extremely durable and low maintenance. They’re also relatively inexpensive. Vinyl hardware windows come in a variety of colors and the paint is mixed into the vinyl material. Thus there is never a concern for scratches or chips in the vinyl frame. Vinyl also has a fairly high insulation factor, thus enabling low U-value windows.

The only downsides with vinyl windows are that they come in only a limited variety of colors and can look rather cheap if low quality ones are installed on the home.

There are some vinyl hardware window types that are made to look like natural wood, however they honestly don’t do a great job of imitating wood.

Steel Hardware

Steel hardware windows are not used very often in new home construction today, with maybe the exception of basement windows and storm windows. Steel hardware windows are mostly a relic of older homes. One of the reasons steel hardware windows fell out of fashion is that they need to be regularly painted and can rust over time. Steel window hardware is also a poor insulating material. Heat can easily transfer from the inside to the outside of the window via the steel frame.

Aluminum Hardware

Aluminum hardware windows are similar to steel hardware windows in terms of limited energy efficiency and strong durability. Aluminum hardware windows, however, do not require the same level of care and maintenance as steel windows. Aluminum hardware coloring is baked on to the window frame during its construction, thus it does not require painting. Due to its poor energy efficiency aluminum hardware windows are not used as often in today’s new home construction.

Fiberglass Hardware

Fiberglass hardware windows are both highly durable and energy efficient.

Window Hardware Guide

Consequently fiberglass hardware is often found in some of the lowest U-value windows. Maintenance is also minimal with fiberglass hardware, as it won’t rust or decay like steel or wood. The only downside with fiberglass hardware windows is that they are very expensive compared to other window hardware solutions.

So when out shopping for new windows consider home style, climate, window style, U-value, and the right window hardware. By weighing all of these factors equally, you’ll be sure to purchase windows that best meet your home’s aesthetic and functional needs.

If you need more help on choosing the right window replacement for your home, contact one of our pre-screened window installation contractors. They can help you select the replacement windows that are right for your home and budget, and perform the installation.

For more information on Installing Replacement Windows and Interior Window Trim

  • See the Installing a New Window Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  The Installing a New Window Ebook provides easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to remove an old window and install a new one. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.
  • See the Installing Interior Window Trim Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  The Installing Interior Window Trim Ebook provides easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to install interior window trim around a window. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.

Related Information

Additional Window Installation and Maintenance Resources from Amazon.com

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