Material Choices

What to look for when selecting your Window & Doors

Windows and doors are an important investment and can reduce energy costs, add to your home's curb appeal, improve ventilation, reduce condensation and make your home more comfortable to live in. That's why it pays to invest a little time in learning about the most important door and window features. Armed with a little knowledge, you will find it easier to make the right product choices for your new or remodeled home.

Frame Material

Vinyl window frames. Fiberglass window frames. Aluminum window frames. Each frame material has advantages. It's time to pick the best one for you.

  Wood Vinyl Fiberglass Aluminum Composite
Will not crack   X X X X
Will not peel   X X X X
Will not bend/warp   X X X X
Paintable X   X X X
Wood window-like profile X X X   X
Available with wood clad interior X   X   X
Will not stick due to expansion and contraction   X X   X
High energy-efficiency coefficient X X X   X

Vinyl Window Frame

Vinyl windows are made primarily from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This material has many advantages, including being virtually maintenance-free. It can't be painted, but is often available in white and various neutral colors that complement many house colors. Because the color goes all the way through the material, scratches and dings are nearly impossible to see. Consequently, a vinyl window or patio door can look nearly new for years.

Vinyl window frame benefits:

  • Exceptionally energy efficient
  • Extremely durable
  • Non-corroding
  • Virtually maintenance-free
  • Available in a wide range of styles and shapes
  • Cost effective
  • Easy to install

Fiberglass Window Frames

Fiberglass is a frame material known for it's strength, durability and performance. As a building material, fiberglass is nothing new. It's been floating boats and adding strength to ladders for years. But, until recently, the complex profiles required for window designs have been impossible to attain with fiberglass. Innovative window manufacturers like Milgard® have solved these challenges and today you can buy fiberglass windows and patio doors designed to maintain their beauty in every season, in any climate.

Fiberglass Window & Door Benefits:

  • Ultimate in durability
  • Energy efficient
  • Extremely strong—can hold large expanses of glass
  • Virtually maintenance-free
  • Expand and contract very little with temperature changes
  • Won't decay
  • Conducts minimal heat and cold
  • Available in a variety of factory-painted colors
  • Paintable

Aluminum Window Frames

For years, architects and builders have specified aluminum windows for their overall strength and lasting value. Because of their rigidity, durability and narrow frames, aluminum windows can be configured into a wide variety of combinations that maximize views. Aluminum windows also are popular because of their low maintenance. They won't rust or rot. You don't have to paint them. And they're available with tough anodized or baked-on finishes. The downside of aluminum windows in the past was that they weren't very energy efficient. Today, better quality aluminum windows, equipped with thermal breaks, separate the interior and exterior surfaces of the window to improve their energy efficiency.

Aluminum Window & Door Benefits:

  • Long-lasting, reliable operation
  • Strong and durable
  • Resists deterioration
  • Narrow sight lines maximize view
  • Slim frames complement modern architectural styles
  • Durable factory-applied color options


There's more to glass than meets the eye. Glass is a design element and they can be energy efficient barriers to heat and cold. The best window manufacturers offer many combinations of window glass for everything from sun and noise protection to ensuring your privacy and safety. Some examples of this include:

Obscure door and window glass protects your privacy but allows abundant light to enter a room. Obscure glass is perfect for places like bathrooms and front door entries. A variety of colors and texture patterns are available for a translucent to semi-opaque effect.
Tempered glass is extremely strong and often used for its safety characteristics. Not only is it extra strong but, when it breaks, it breaks into little pebble-like pieces without sharp edges. Tempered glass is ideal for reducing the likelihood of injury in the event of breakage in applications like patio doors, side lights and bathroom enclosures for showers and tubs.
Laminated glass (two or more panes of glass bonded together with a plastic inner layer) is highly effective in reducing noise. It also eliminates 99.9% of ultraviolet rays, providing the highest degree of protection from the sun for your home furnishings.

Energy Efficiency

Many homeowners today are looking for ways they can contribute to global energy-efficiency and reduce energy costs. Energy-efficient glass is an excellent place to start. The glass you select is the single most important component when considering energy efficient windows and patio doors. Innovations in window and door glass coatings and insulated glazing assemblies enable today's windows to provide excellent energy efficiency, clarity and performance. Two of the most important innovations are double glazing and Low-E glass. Some terms you will want to familiarize yourself with are double glazing, triple glazing, low-e glass, and argon glass fill.


Door and window grids are a distinctive way to liven up the look of your home, whether you're admiring it from the inside or out. Grids can make a window or door match a historical period or architectural style. They can also turn a large open pane into something extraordinary.

The types of door and window grids available to you will depend on the manufacturer and the material of the door or window (i.e., vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass). You can classify grids based on where they're placed on the pane (between the two panes of insulated glass, on the exterior glass or on the interior glass). Door and window grids positioned between the panes make the window easiest to clean, though interior and exterior grids usually are designed as “snap-in grids” that can be removed and reattached easily and quickly. The profile of a grid can sometimes be shaped flat while other times it is sculptured.

We can help you get creative with grids. Think of doors and windows as works of art. Imagine sunlight gently entering a room. As the light warms your room, you notice a delightful mosaic of light and shadows reflecting on the wall -- a reflection of the grid design you've chosen for your windows or patio door.


Hardware is integral to your window or door. When you're making hardware choices, ask yourself some important questions.

  1. Does it enhance safety and meet or exceed forced-entry codes?
  2. Is it reliable and durable?
  3. Is it easy to use on a daily basis?
  4. Does it look or feel cheap? Or does it look good?

Your hardware should never appear cheap. And whether it's a door handle or an operating handle for a window crank or lock, it should work smoothly and securely. In the case of the lock, it should close with a definite click and movement that lets you know both by feel and appearance that the window is locked and secure.

There are many hardware options available for your windows and doors, and differ by brand and model. We will make sure that your hardware requirements are taken into consideration as a part of your project.

Window Screens

Window screens are primarily designed to let in fresh air and keep most everything else out. The most common materials used for screens are aluminum and fiberglass.

Aluminum Window Screens

Aluminum screens come natural or with an applied charcoal color. Charcoal is much less visible and preferable where views are important.

Fiberglass Window Screens

Fiberglass screens are available in light gray as well as charcoal. Charcoal offers better views and superior appearance. Fiberglass screens do not dent like aluminum when hit or pushed. Made from extremely fine fibers of glass, fiberglass won't corrode and is very strong and durable. For these reasons, fiberglass window screens today far outsell aluminum screens.

Window Screen Placement

With most windows or doors, screens are placed on the exterior side so that you can open and close the window from the inside of your home. The exception is for casement and awning windows. These have the screens on the interior side of the window so that the window can be cranked open for ventilation. An advantage of this positioning is that the screens generally stay cleaner longer than exterior screens.

Retractable Sliding Door Screens

Several manufacturers offer sliding door screens that roll into a pocket when not in use. These screens virtually disappear when you don't need them. They usually have a built-in dampening system for smooth, easy retraction-they won't slam shut if accidentally released. They stay clean longer because the screen is protected from dirt, dust and weather when not in use.