Windows, Part III: Wood Frames

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In Part I of my series on windows, I covered efficient Low-E coatings, and in Part II, the NFRC label, which is helpful in comparing different windows. Today, I’ll begin discussing the options and advantages of various window frame materials beginning with wood. Other frame materials include aluminum, composite, fiberglass, and vinyl. The type of frame material used dictates the thickness, weight, durability, and thermal characteristics of the window. Since the sash and frame account for 10-30% of the total area of the window unit, the frame properties influence the total window performance.

Wood is the traditional choice for window frames due to its ability to be milled easily and versatility to accept varying colors of paint over time (on both the interior and exterior). Wood may not be the most durable framing material because of its susceptibility to rot, but a well-built window will last for a long time if properly maintained. It also performs well thermally-speaking, with a U-factor of 0.3 – 0.5.

A Wood clad window is another option where the exterior of the frame is clad with vinyl or aluminum to weather the elements better than exposed wood.

If you want to be assured that the wood used comes from well-managed forests, look for those made using sustainably-harvested wood, like from the following manufacturers who typically service both residential and commercial markets:

  • Minnesota-based Andersen Windows & Doors recently received its chain-of-custody certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a third-party non-profit organization that verifies wood products come from sustainably-managed forests.
  • The Bella Vista division of Loewen will soon offer windows framed with sustainably certiifed Accoya┬« wood. The wood undergoes a non-toxic modification which gives it a 50 year guaranteed life, dimensional stability, and insect resistance. Bella Vista makes custom designed, hand-finished windows.
  • The H Window Company, located in Ashland, WI, custom builds quality wood-clad windows available in 5 colors.
  • J.S. Benson Woodworking & Design, of Brattleboro, VT, makes custom, true-divided light windows using sustainably-harvested mahogany.

Source: The Efficient Windows Collaborative

Tag(s): Green Building, Greening the Home, Greening the Office, The Great Green Outdoors

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