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A Look at Window Frame Options for Homes in the South

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Integrity Windows and Doors has teamed up with building industry thought leader, Matt Risinger, president of Austin, Texas-based Risinger Homes, to provide insights and best practices to fellow professionals across the country. This is the second post in a six-part series. 


The Southern region of the United States is a particularly harsh climate for windows. We get lots of direct sun and those Ultraviolet (UV) rays can be brutal on a window. In today’s blog post, I want to lay out the pros/cons for the four main types of windows specifically to performance in the South.

WOOD

Wood is a terrific frame choice, but it’s not a great choice for the Southern U.S. High humidity and rain are common and wood windows need to be maintained impeccably to keep up resistance to rot. If you like the look of a classic wood window, look for a well-detailed clad product like Marvin’s Next Generation Ultimate Double Hung. That’s a wood window with an extruded aluminum “armor” on the outside. Wood handles the heat well, but an un-clad wood window won’t perform well long term.

ROLL FORM ALUMINUM

Roll form aluminum is durable choice for the South because it’s impervious to the elements, and handles UV rays well. The big downside of roll form aluminum is that it’s a huge conductor of heat and even with a thermal break it’s on the bottom of the list for efficiency.

VINYL

Vinyl is a popular choice in American homes today due to the low price point. It’s a decent window from an efficiency standpoint, but it’s not a good choice for the South. Vinyl expands and contracts at a much higher rate than other materials and our high heat wreaks havoc on a vinyl window in the sun. UV rays are vinyl’s enemy and fading and deterioration are common after only a decade. I recommend against vinyl windows.

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FIBERGLASS

This is my favorite choice for a window in the South, which is why I so often choose Integrity’s Ultrex pultruded fiberglass solutions. Fiberglass is particularly suited to our climate zone because it takes the heat and UV rays extremely well. It’s impervious to water and rot, plus it’s a strong frame that doesn’t expand and contract much. In fact, the expansion rate of fiberglass is very similar to the glass in the window. I also like that fiberglass comes factory finished with an acrylic cap stock (similar to your bathtub), but it can accept paint in the future.


For more information on windows, visit Matt’s blog at www.MattRisinger.com or his YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/MattRisinger.